Varicose veins tend to display themselves as twisted, swollen, purple cords right beneath your skin’s surface. Mainly attacking the lower limbs, they are as a result of weakened valves and veins in the legs. When the valves malfunction, blood collects in the foot which causes pressure in the veins. This pressure is what makes the veins weak, large, and twisted.
Typically, they mostly occur as superficial varicose veins where though they might be visibly swollen; they’re not painful and are quite harmless. However, they can become inflamed which hinders circulation and makes the tender to touch plus giving you a case of itchy skin, swollen ankles, and aching in the affected areas.
While superficial varicose veins attack the surface network of veins, your internal venous system might also become varicose. These are what are referred to as deep varicose veins and are not visible. However, they can cause aching and inflammation throughout the foot. Blood clots also tend to form in these sites.
Varicose veins are generally regarded as hereditary family traits and are a relatively common condition. However, they are twice more likely to occur in women than in men, and about 23% of Americans are affected by this condition.
In the past, the routine treatment of varicose veins employed a method known as stripping. Stripping was a surgical procedure that involved removing the veins through incisions. Since then, minimally invasive treatment options have replaced surgery as the primary method of varicose veins treatment. These options incorporate the use of a laser, injections, and radiofrequency energy as part of their treatment procedure. The type, size, and location of your varicose veins are what are going to determine the approach to be taken.
How to Treat Varicose Veins
Making adjustments to your lifestyle can significantly alleviate the effects of varicose veins. Try these tips:
- Involve yourself in physical activities more often to get your legs moving. This will not only improve your muscle tone but also help blood move through your veins.
- Reduce weight if you are obese or overweight. It will help ease the pressure on your veins by improving the blood flow.
- Do not stand or sit for lengthy periods without taking rests. In helps to raise your feet, or propped up when resting.
- If you can, do not wear high heels for extended periods. Lower heeled shoes are a better alternative because they help tone your calf muscles which make it easier for the blood to move through the veins.
- Wear loose clothes especially around your waist, thighs, and legs.
- Consider compression stockings. Compression stockings work by applying pressure on the veins which prevent the backward flow of blood.
Minimally Invasive Treatments
If you have tried making adjustments in your lifestyle and you see no changes or even worse, the condition gets worse; it might be time to see your physician. Types of minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins:
Surface Therapy (Laser-Based)
A laser can be applied on the skin’s surface to treat reticular veins, spider veins, and small varicose veins. Lasers work by radiating light of a particular wavelength which heats and damages the vein without affecting the neighboring tissue. Your physician should give you protective eyewear as a safety measure against stray laser beams. This method is preferred by people who do not like anything to do with needles. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt; on the contrary, you might feel a strong pinching feeling when the laser is applied. Numbing creams and gels will help you get through this.
Laser treatment will typically last between 15 and twenty minutes, and you won’t require bandages. However, you may expect to see some bruising and swelling and feel an itch where the laser beam was focused. Additionally, some people have reported temporary changes in skin color of the treated areas. Because of this, compression stockings might be recommended for the next couple of days. Symptoms normally improve within a week or two of the treatment. Surface laser therapy is mostly recommended to people whose veins are too narrow to inject or are not very fond of needles.
Also known as injection therapy, it involves the introduction of a chemical irritant into the affected vein through injection. The irritant, which is either foam or liquid, works by making the vein inflame which causes it to stick together and seal shut. You will still have a normal function circulatory system around that area because other blood vessels will compensate for this loss. The irritant most commonly used for Sclerotherapy is called sodium tetradecyl sulfate.
Sclerotherapy treatment usually takes a couple of sessions with each lasting anywhere between 15 minutes and one hour. No anesthesia is normally required though the treatment can be slightly painful and result in temporary bruising and swelling. You might also need to put on compression stockings and bandages for a week or two. Because blood no longer flows through the vein, the vein will gradually fade.
This method is used for treating deep varicose veins and employs the use of laser and radiofrequency to locate and deal with the vein. Also referred to as endovenous techniques, internal therapy uses ultrasound to locate the troublesome vein and inserts a catheter into the vein. The catheter then emits radiofrequency energy which shrinks and closes the vein. As with all the other treatments, the neighboring veins will maintain a healthy circulation. Similarly, you can expect some pain and inflammation in the treated region. Compression stockings are still recommended for up to two weeks. The surface veins that are attached to the treated vein will typically shrink after the procedure. If not, a touch-up Sclerotherapy procedure may be performed.
Minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins are not only convenient but also offer long-term success rates. The choice of technique will be reliant on your inherent traits or your doctor’s experience with one or the other technique.