What are varicose veins and what causes them?Varicose veins are enlarged sometimes twisted veins on the surface of the skin. They are found most commonly in the lower legs, ankles and feet. Varicose veins usually are not serious by themselves, but they often lead to other more serious health problems. Varicose veins are caused by weakening of the valves and veins in your legs. The body has over 60,000 miles of veins! Normally, oneway valves keep blood that is pushed up the leg by muscles from flowing back down the legs toward the feet. When these valves do not work as they should, blood does not get out of your legs, and the venous pressure builds up. Under normal circumstances it is normal to have low pressure in the venous system and high pressure in the arterial system. Varicose veins are a sign that the venous pressure is increasing in the lower legs. The veins then may become weak, enlarged, and twisted. There is a hereditary component to varicose veins as it often runs in families. Aging, multiple births and occupational hazards also can contribute to increased risk of venous disease. Being overweight or having a job where you must stand for long periods of time increases pressure on leg veins. This can lead to varicose veins.
What are the symptoms?Varicose veins look bluish, are often swollen, and twisted under the skin. Some people do not have any symptoms or recognize the symptoms due to its gradual natural history of development.
Mild symptoms may include:
- Heaviness, burning, aching, tiredness, or pain in your legs.
- Symptoms may be worse after you stand or sit for long periods of time.
- Swelling in your feet and ankles.
- Itching over the vein.
More serious symptoms include:
- Leg swelling.
- Swelling and calf pain after you sit or stand for long periods of time.
- Skin changes, such as:
- Color changes.
- Dry, thinned skin.
- Open sores, or you may bleed after a minor injury.
How are they treated?
Quick, effective outpatient visits treat the root cause, not just the symptoms.
DiagnosisWe treat vein issues using a stepwise approach. We start by identifying the problem with an ultrasound study of the legs. Once the bad veins are identified, we discuss the various treatment options and tell you which ones we think are the best for you.
TreatmentVaricose veins and their underlying cause are quite treatable. We offer patients a variety of varicose vein treatment procedures that seal off veins with unhealthy valves. Blood circulation then returns to the veins with properly working valves, and closed veins are eventually absorbed back into the body.
The Vein Center of Arizona offers patients a wide variety of treatment options:
Comprehensive Treatment Plan
Developing a comprehensive treatment plan follows a thorough assessment. The assessment will normally consist of a review of your venous symptoms, a visual inspection of your problems and a thorough review of your history. The assessment completed by Dr. Paul Larson, supplemented by the diagnostic ultrasound if indicated by a registered vascular technologist will aid in the process.
Before seeking out a surgical or non-surgical treatment for varicose veins and other uncomfortable vein disorders, doctors may recommend conservative management techniques for patients. Conservative treatments may be required by an insurance company before other treatments can be considered.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Radiofrequency ablation (or RFA) is a procedure used to reduce pain. An electrical current produced by a radio wave is used to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, thereby decreasing pain signals from that specific area.
Endovenous Laser Treatment
Endovenous Laser Treatment for the elimination of unhealthy varicose veins is the gold-standard for minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins. EVLT uses laser energy, which is a highly concentrated beam of light. They work by delivering this light energy to the tissue that is targeted with extreme precision, so as not to damage the surrounding tissue.
Sclerotherapy is the primary treatment for spider veins and small superficial varicose veins that usually appear on the legs. They less commonly appear on other parts of the body. Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a chemical solution into a targeted spider vein or a reticular vein through a very fine needle.
Foam sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive technique for men and women to eliminate unsightly varicose veins and spider veins. The procedure involves injecting a foam sclerosant in a blood vessel to close it. The blood reroutes itself through healthy veins, restoring more normal blood flow.
Also known as ambulatory phlebectomy, this is a procedure that can be performed in the office and is commonly performed at the time of endovenous ablation. The procedure is intended to remove larger bulging varicose veins near the skin surface.