For more than 30 years, CVTSA board certified physicians have cared for people in our community. Our surgeons specialize in the body’s vascular system and routinely perform the most complex medical operations to restore normal blood throughout the body.
These same physicians care for your varicose veins and to do so, have created a special vascular center in order to provide you with a “boutique” experience which emphasizes patient comfort and personalized treatment.
When you come to the vascular center, you will be escorted through the treatment process by our specially trained nurses who monitor your every need. These same nurses will call you before and after your procedure to answer any questions you may have.
Varicose veins are bulging, twisted, unsightly, painful veins usually found in the legs and ankles. They occur when the valves in the leg veins become weakened and can no longer efficiently move blood against the flow of gravity up to the heart. When the valves fail, pressure builds and as blood pools inside the veins causing discomfort and swelling.
Varicose veins can occur when there is additional pressure on leg veins, such as in someone who is overweight or pregnant or works at a job that requires standing for long periods of time.
The force of gravity, the pressure of body weight, and the task of carrying blood from the bottom of the body up to the heart makes the legs the primary location for varicose veins.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose?
Some people experience a burning or itching sensation in the leg and may notice that their legs feel achy and heavy, particularly after standing or sitting for long periods of time. Still others do not experience painful symptoms but may notice changes in their skin around the area of the veins.
Why is it Important to Treat Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are a medical condition that can lead to skin ulcerations and bleeding if left untreated. Sometimes, varicose veins can also lead to blood clots.
How Are Varicose Veins Treated?
Before determining a course of treatment, our certified vascular technicians at the Vascular Laboratory will conduct an ultrasound examination of your leg. This allows our medical team to ensure that the cause of your discomfort is caused by varicose veins. Then, they can determine the best course of treatment for you. Treatment options include:
- Compression Stockings: Some patients wear compression stockings for a determined amount of time and find that their veins are no longer problematic. Generally, all patients should try this approach before turning to other treatments.
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): The physician, using ultrasound for guidance, will make a small puncture incision in the skin of the affected leg, and direct a tiny catheter powered by radiofrequency (RF) energy into the damaged vein. The Radiofrequency treatment will be performed under local anesthesia in the doctor’s office. You may have the option to take a prescribed sedative medication, which means you may not drive to and from the clinic. Once the radiofrequency catheter is positioned, a local anesthetic will be injected around the vein. The physician will then activate the catheter to deliver controlled heat to the vein wall causing the collagen in the wall to shrink and the vein to close. After your treatment, you will need to wear a special prescription Class II 20-30 mmHg compression stocking for a length of time prescribed by your physician. Usually there is a relatively short recovery period for the procedure.
Do Varicose Veins Serve any Useful Purpose?
In the vast majority of cases, varicose veins do not serve any useful function. In fact, they are dysfunctional veins. Removal of these veins may actually improve circulation. In extremely rare cases, when the deep veins of legs are blocked, varicose veins of legs may carry useful circulation and should not be removed.
Varicose veins usually enlarge and worsen over time. Severe varicose veins can cause he problems, including, severe venous insufficiency, blood clots, phlebitis, sores or skin ulcers, spontaneous bleeding, ongoing irritation, swelling and painful rashes of the legs.
What can be done to Prevent Varicose Veins?
Since the causes are still undetermined, prevention of varicose veins is debatable. However, maintaining a normal weight, walking, limiting the use of external female hormones, and wearing compression stockings may help limit the disease's progression.
Conservative measures such as walking, compression hose and leg elevation typically temporarily improve these symptoms.
Does Insurance Pay for the Treatment of Varicose Veins?
Most insurance companies consider treatment of varicose veins that are symptomatic medically necessary and will therefore pay for the treatment. Consult with your vein specialist to find out more regarding your specific case. Usually spider veins are considered cosmetic and typically not covered by insurance.
What can Happen to Varicose Veins if Left Untreated?
Varicose veins can be a serious disorder that restricts work and leisure activities for both men and women. Thrombosis (blood clots), spontaneous bleeding and skin ulcers are complications of varicose vein disease. Also, if varicose veins are left untreated, smaller veins may take on additional work which can be associated with worsening symptoms.
When is Varicose Vein Treatment not Advisable?
As with any medical procedure, there are those individuals who may not be fit to undergo certain vein treatments. Before deciding on any treatment options, make sure that you consult with your vein specialist in order to make sure that all potential issues have been raised. Patients should generally consider treatment when the veins are bothering them enough because of cosmetic concern, symptoms or complications due to the veins. There are contraindications to treatment. These include, but are not limited to inability to ambulate (walk), increased risk of developing blood clots, pregnancy, certain chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes), and significant medical illness. Check with your doctor before hand to make sure you are ready to undergo treatment.
What Happens after Varicose Vein Treatment?
Recovery periods may differ from treatment to treatment. The wearing Gradient Compression Support Stockings are a part of all our vein treatments. Our physicians and nurses will determine how long you should wear the compression stockings, which is generally based on the type of veins and treatment you had. Most physicians recommend that you walk a lot after treatment. Depending on your treatment, other instructions may be given.
Can the Varicose Veins Reoccur?
Varicose vein treatments are aimed at clearing the existing problem veins. As you age, it is common for other veins to develop varicosities. Most often these are new veins, although treated veins could re-open.
It is important to keep in mind that superficial venous disease and varicose veins is an inherited disorder that is chronic and progressive. Any treatment method is at best palliative, as venous insufficiency will generally develop in other veins as time passes. All of the current treatments have a certain degree of failure, but this may be minimized if the principles of performing a proper and thorough evaluation prior to treatment planning, determining the most effective treatment plan, and treating the reflux beginning with the proximal sources before the more distal are followed. The importance of minimizing sedentary behaviors, weight control, regular exercise, and the use of gradient compression therapy will also help to diminish the frequency and severity of recurrence.
If you have varicose veins that cause you discomfort or you feel are unsightly, they should be examined by a vascular physician. To schedule an appointment, please call us at 703-560-1200.
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