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Frequently asked questions
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are vessels that have become enlarged due to the accumulation of blood. In normal vein anatomy, blood flows down the legs in arteries, and then it flows back up to the heart in veins. The upward flow of blood is directed through valves, which close to keep blood from pooling. With varicose veins, these valves stop functioning properly. This may occur for a number of reasons, such as pregnancy or physical trauma.
How do I know if I have varicose veins?
Varicose veins tend to develop on the ankles or legs.. Their telltale appearance includes bulging and discoloration. They may feel "ropey" beneath the skin, and may sometimes itch, throb, or burn. Generalized swelling and cramping or achiness may also occur. Elevating the legs may reduce discomfort, whereas standing or walking for prolonged periods may make discomfort worse.
How are varicose veins treated?
Depending on the severity of varicose veins, a number of treatment options may exist. Patients may try to minimize discomfort by wearing compression stockings or elevating their legs at night. Other lifestyle modifications to improve comfort include moving around more frequently, as sitting or standing for long periods of time allows the blood to pull in the abnormal veins. Often, professional care is also necessary. Treatments may include phlebectomy, endovenous therapy that heats the vein, sclerotherapy, or radiofrequency. The goal of most treatments is vein closure and the redirection of blood flow.
Does vein treatment hurt?
Patients report only mild discomfort during our treatment procedures.
Are there side effects to vein treatment?
The most common side effects of vein treatments include swelling and bruising. Long term discomfort and scarring, however, are not common.
Is down time necessary after vein treatment?
Right after vein treatment, patients are encouraged to resume walking to promote circulation. More strenuous exercise may be resumed after 7 to 10 days.
What happens to the vein after treatment?
After vein therapy, the treated vessel closes and blood then flows through a nearby healthy vein. This does not place extra stress on that vein. Also, the fibrous tissue from the treated vein gradually incorporates into surrounding layers of the skin.
Is anesthesia required to treat varicose veins?
Patients are able to tolerate varicose vein treatments with local anesthetic only. This method of care enables patients to obtain treatment conveniently, and to resume normal activities right away.
How quickly will symptoms improve after vein treatment?
Most patients experience a noticeable improvement in comfort and other symptoms over the two weeks following treatment.
What is endovenous laser therapy?
Endovenous laser therapy uses laser light to treat the problematic vein. The outpatient treatment, which takes less than an hour, is made more comfortable with local anesthetic. Veins are treated with a tiny laser fiber that is guided by ultrasound. The laser seals veins, effectively stopping the backup of blood.
What is radiofrequency ablation of varicose veins?
Radiofrequency is the technology behind Venefit. This procedure is comparable to endovenous laser therapy. It involves the placement of an ultrasound-guided probe into the vein. Local anesthesia numbs the vessel, creating a comfortable experience. Radiofrequency energy then heats the entire length of the vein, causing clotting to occur. The vein closes as a result of this clotting, and reflux ends. Treatment is completed in less than an hour.
What is the difference between EVLT and Venefit?
Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) heats the walls of targeted veins with laser energy. Venefit delivers radiofrequency. It is thought that tissue recovery and integrity is better supported through radiofrequency energy than laser therapy. However, both are very effective at achieving the desired outcome.
What is venous reflux disease?
Venous reflux disease may be the underlying cause of varicose veins in some patients. This condition occurs when the valve in a vein no longer functions as it should. Because the diseased valve does not close adequately, it allows blood to pool where it shouldn't. In addition to varicose veins themselves, venous reflux disease may cause symptoms such as generalized pain or aching, swelling, restlessness, fatigue and a "heavy" sensation in the legs.
Is it safe to close a vein?
There are no problems associated with closing problematic veins. The blood that should have flowed through the varicose vein simply redirects to a nearby vein.
Are there risks of complications from vein treatment?
In one study that took place in March 2009, more than 2,000 cases were followed and no serious complications were reported by study participants. A very small percentage of patients treated for problematic veins experienced transient numbness, or paresthesia. An even smaller percentage experience DVT or superficial clotting. There are more risks to NOT getting treatment for venous insufficiency than undergoing a clinically tested procedure.
Is there a risk to laser treatment?
Lasers are routinely used in medicine and extremely safe in experienced hands. During treatment, we provide protective eyewear to keep the eyes safe from laser light.
Why do varicose veins affect the legs?
Gravity is the reason that problematic veins are most commonly seen in the lower extremities. Blood has to travel the longest distance from the heart to the feet, and the vessels at the bottom of the body are naturally under more pressure. If vein walls become weak, blood cannot push its way back up to the heart as it should.
Is there a short-term treatment for varicose veins?
There are a few habits that may provide short-term relief. They can be remembered as ESE, which stands for Exercise, Stockings, and Elevation. These habits do not resolve problematic veins; they will still be there. Untreated veins can still worsen over time.
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a proven treatment that is commonly used to resolve small varicose veins. It is also the treatment of choice for many patients with spider veins. Sclerotherapy is a treatment that closes veins with a FDA approved medication specially formulated to ablate the inner wall of the vein. Over time, the vein closes and disappears.
What is ClosureFast?
Venefit is also known as ClosureFast, or endovenous radiofrequency ablation. This treatment is appropriate for the treatment of saphenous veins with venous reflux. ClosureRFS is a radiofrequency treatment that has been cleared for use on incompetent perforator veins. These in-office treatments are performed with local anesthetic.
How long must compression stockings be worn after vein treatment?
To support the desired outcome, compression garments should be worn for 3 to 7 days after sclerotherapy. After endovenous ablation, garments should be worn for 2-4 weeks.
How do arteries differ from veins?
Arteries send oxygen-rich blood from the heart out into the body. Veins return blood to the heart for re-oxygenation.
Are there different types of veins?
Yes. The venous system is complex. Deep veins are located near the bones. They carry blood directly to the heart. There are also veins that lie in superficial layers of tissue. These veins get less support from muscles and bones. Connecting the superficial veins to deeper veins are perforator veins.
Are the blue veins I see on my skin varicose veins?
A blue vein does not necessarily indicate that you have a varicose vein. People who have fair skin may naturally have more visible veins. A varicose vein may not appear any specific color, but may be more noticeable because of its raised, ropey look.
Is pregnancy a factor in the development of varicose veins?
Varicose veins are not directly caused by pregnancy. However, existing problems may be exacerbated during pregnancy. Circulation naturally increases during this time. If a vessel has already become weak, the increase in venous activity may cause it to bulge. The pressure of the growing fetus on the pelvic area may also inhibit blood flow. Finally, hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy have been identified as a contributing factor in vessel dilation. If veins do not minimize after childbirth, a consultation with a vein specialist should be scheduled.
What is a venous stasis ulcer?
This condition describes an ulcer on the skin that results from venous reflux. A venous stasis ulcer tends to have clear borders, but an irregular shape. The skin around the lesion may appear thick, dark, or red. These ulcers usually develop on the inner part of the calf.
Are varicose veins the reason my legs throb and ache after long periods of standing?
Many people look at throbbing and aching as symptoms of varicose veins. However, this is not always the case. If you experience these symptoms, you may minimize them by moving your position more frequently. Do not stand or sit for too long. You can also shift your weight from one leg to the other, and elevate your legs when possible. Lastly, you may wear compression stockings to promote comfort. We also encourage a professional consultation and examination to rule out any serious medical conditions.
Is vein treatment covered by insurance?
Insurance coverage is typically available for varicose veins that require medical intervention. Factors that confirm medical necessity include ulceration or bleeding. If venous reflux can be identified with diagnostic imaging, we may be able to prove medical necessity and obtain insurance coverage for treatment. Treatment for spider veins is typically not covered by insurance, as these veins are more of a cosmetic problem than a health concern.