Varicose veins are large, swollen, twisted, dark blue blood vessels that protrude from the surface of the skin, usually appearing on the legs. According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, approximately one-third of men and women ages 18 to 64 suffer with this condition.
Aesthetically unappealing as they are, varicose veins are a cosmetic concern for many people who have them. They can also cause a range of symptoms in the legs, including tension, heaviness, aching, itching, and swelling.
Fortunately for women and men who suffer with varicose veins, we now have advanced diagnostic technology and minimally-invasive procedures to treat this condition. At South Texas Vein Institute, our doctors have focused their practice on the treatment of varicose veins, spider veins, and reticular (blue) veins. We perform state-of-the-art, minimally-invasive procedures for safe, effective varicose vein removal with minimal patient downtime.
Advances in Varicose Vein Diagnostic Technology
Doctors providing vein care today have diagnostic tools that are far superior to what doctors had in the past. Our vein surgeons can use duplex ultrasound to view the circulatory system in the legs. This method provides a sharp, two-dimensional picture that shows the doctor the condition of the exact affected vein and aids in determining the best treatment to employ.
State-of-the-Art Varicose Vein Removal Techniques
In the past, varicose veins were removed by literally stripping them out through an incision at the groin. Vein stripping is very seldom used as a treatment in the present day. Today we have cutting-edge, minimally-invasive procedures to effectively remove damaged and diseased veins with less trauma, faster recovery, and excellent medical and cosmetic results.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
This technique uses radiofrequency energy to collapse the affected vein, after which it is reabsorbed by the body. It is a minimally-invasive, painless procedure, performed on an out-patient basis. RFA results in nearly imperceptible scarring and rapid patient recovery.
In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision near the knee and inserts a thin catheter into the vein. Before the catheter is inserted, the vein is injected with anesthesia mixed with fluid to make treatment painless and to press the blood out of the vein. The entire inside of the vein (known as the lumen) is heated with radio waves, which shrinks the collagen in the blood vessel walls and causes the vein to collapse.
Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)
Endovenous laser ablation is an image-guided, minimally-invasive procedure for varicose vein removal that uses laser energy to heat and close varicose veins. It is the latest method for treating major varicose veins that were treated with stripping surgery in the past.
The surgeon uses ultrasound to visualize the affected vein and inserts a small laser fiber through a tiny incision directly into the vein. Local anesthetic is injected to numb the vein, the laser is activated, and the fiber is slowly removed. The laser heats the lining of the vein, causing it to collapse, shrink, and eventually disappear, with minimal discomfort for the patient.
Normal activity can be resumed immediately after the procedure, although patients are instructed to avoid rigorous activity. Walking is encouraged immediately after treatment.
ELVeS® Laser Treatment
ELVeS® stands for Endo Laser Vein System. This is a nonsurgical, minimally-invasive treatment option for varicose vein removal. This procedure is less invasive, more reliable, and safer than other varicose vein treatments.
In ELVeS® laser treatment, a thin fiber is inserted into the varicose vein. Laser energy is transmitted to the vein. It reacts with water in the vein tissue to permanently occlude the vein. ELVeS® treatment can correct both the unsightly appearance and the uncomfortable symptoms associated with varicose veins.
Laser varicose vein treatment with ELVeS® provides a positive patient experience for several important reasons:
- Short treatment time
- Quick return to normal activities
- Less post-surgical pain, bruising, and swelling
- Excellent medical and cosmetic results
Sclerotherapy is a commonly performed procedure for treating spider veins and smaller varicose veins. It is performed by injecting a sclerosant (special chemical) into the varicose vein to damage and scar its inside lining. This causes the vein to close, after which it is eventually reabsorbed by the body.
This is an in-office procedure that can be performed in approximately 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how large the varicose veins are and how many veins are to be treated. The leg is elevated during the procedure to drain the blood.
After the chemical solution is injected into the vein, pressure is applied to prevent the blood from returning when the patient stands. Compression stockings may be required for a few days up to a week following the procedure to maintain the necessary pressure.
A newer technique allows sclerotherapy to be used for treating larger varicose veins that previously would have needed surgical treatment. In this minimally-invasive procedure, the doctor injects the chemicals into the vein with a catheter, assisted by duplex ultrasound.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins of the legs become weakened. When functioning normally, these are one-way valves that keep the blood flowing upward from the legs toward the heart.
When valves in the leg veins malfunction, blood pools and pressure builds up in the veins. This causes the veins to become large, twisted, protruding, and weakened. A number of factors can contribute to the development of varicose veins, including
- Hormonal changes
- Prolonged sitting or standing
Benefits of Varicose Vein Removal
Treatment for varicose veins has advanced significantly from the older, traditional method of vein stripping surgery. Vein stripping procedures of the past were highly invasive with a long recovery and a limited success rate. New, minimally-invasive varicose vein removal techniques are generally painless, much more effective, and require minimal downtime.
Now that advances in technology have brought us safe, effective, nonsurgical techniques, varicose vein removal can provide several important benefits.
More Confidence in Your Appearance
Few people would disagree that varicose veins are unsightly. Dark, twisted, swollen, protruding veins can detract from the appearance of your legs and make you want to hide them under clothing.
Varicose vein removal can let you go back to wearing shorts, swimsuits, and skirts without worrying about the appearance of your legs. Successfully treating varicose veins can restore the look of your legs and do wonders for your self confidence.
Less Pain and Discomfort
Varicose veins are not only cosmetically unappealing – they can also cause pain and discomfort. Women and men with this condition experience a range of symptoms, including:
Advanced treatments can greatly reduce pain, discomfort, and symptoms associated with varicose veins. Our surgeon will use ultrasound to map and diagnose all your veins to treat varicose veins at the source, not only those that are visible under the surface of the skin.
Better Rest at Night
Night cramps, restless leg syndrome, and pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins can interfere with your rest and affect your quality of life. Vein disease is one of the probable causes of restless leg syndrome. If you suffer with this condition, treating your varicose veins may help you sleep better at night.
Aching, swollen varicose veins can make it difficult to move around and interfere with your activities. People with severe varicose veins may become immobilized by their condition and less active. Varicose vein removal treats the source of the swelling so you can get back to a more active lifestyle and better quality of life.
Which Varicose Vein Treatment Removal Treatment Is Best for You?
People suffering with varicose veins have better treatment options today. Advanced varicose vein removal techniques are safer, less invasive, and more effective than ever before.
At South Texas Vein Institute, we offer cutting-edge, minimally-invasive varicose vein treatments, including:
- Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
- Endovenous Laser Ablation
We also provide conservative treatment services to our patients. Conservative treatment for varicose veins may include:
- Compression hose
- Weight loss
- Walking or other exercise for the legs
- Elevating the legs above the hips
- Avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time
The most appropriate varicose vein removal procedure for you may depend on a number of factors, including:
- Size and severity of varicose veins
- Medical history
- Existing health conditions
- Cosmetic goals
To find out which varicose vein treatment is right for you, schedule a consultation in our state-of-the-art facility. After an in-depth review of your medical history, medications, and symptoms, our surgeon will conduct a thorough examination of your veins using advanced diagnostic techniques and tailor a varicose vein treatment plan specifically for you.
- Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health: Prevalence of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency in men and women in the general population: Edinburgh Vein Study