Got Varicose Veins? Check Out The Latest Treatment Options

Health & Medical Blog

Your mother had bad varicose veins, those twisted, bulging blue veins that she was always self-conscious about, and now you are developing them as well. Not only are they unsightly, but in some cases, they can be a health concern. Fortunately, treatment for varicose veins has come a long way since your mother's day and age. Learn what options exist if you and your doctor decide treatment is a good idea.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are swollen, dark blue, twisted veins near the skin's surface, most commonly on the legs and arms. There are valves in the veins that normally prevent blood from flowing backward on its way toward the heart. However, with age or other factors, these valves may lose functionality, allowing blood to collect in the extremities, causing the veins to become weak, swollen and twisted.

Age and heredity are factors in the development of varicose veins. They are more common in women and people who are overweight. Also, pregnancy and standing for long periods each day can increase blood pressure in your legs and lead to varicose vein development.

Home Remedies

Doctors typically recommend conservative measures to control the pain and lessen the appearance of varicose veins. Avoid long periods of sitting or standing, if possible. Get plenty of exercise, especially walking. Elevate your legs often to prevent blood from building up in the veins, and invest in a quality pair of compression stockings, which can lessen the symptoms and help keep them from getting worse.

Latest Therapies

In the past, when conservative approaches weren't enough, surgical "stripping" of the veins was the only option. Over the past couple of decades, new techniques have been developed that are less invasive and more effective. These include endovenous laser treatment and radiofrequency ablation

  • Endovenous laser treatment (ELT) - With this technique, your doctor inserts a laser fiber into the vein through a catheter, while watching its progress on an ultrasound screen. The heat produced by the laser damages the walls of the veins, causing scar tissue. This scar tissue impedes blood flow and the vein disappears over time. Unlike stripping the vein, which requires general anesthesia, ELT requires only local anesthesia. You can usually go back to normal activities almost immediately, although you'll need to wear compression hose for a week or so afterward. According to WebMD,  the procedure is effective in 94% of cases.
  • Radiofrequency ablation - This minimally invasive procedure is very similar to ELT, except radiofrequency energy is delivered through a catheter into the vein rather than a laser. The damaged vein occludes blood flow and the vein disappears. The procedure is 97% effective,  and recovery is quick.

If you are considering either of these procedures, ensure that your doctor has experience using them. Also, check with your insurance provider to make sure the procedure is covered.


12 November 2014

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