More than half the population over the age of 50 is affected by the common, and often embarrassing, condition of varicose veins. These veins can affect the appearance of your legs and even cause more serious complications if left unaddressed.
Varicose veins typically are caused by abnormal function of the small valves inside the veins, which can lead to blood pooling in the legs and causing bulging veins and leg swelling, as well as leg heaviness and pain. Sometimes blood clots can form and damage the veins further.
Years ago, the only treatments for large varicose leg veins involved surgery whereby incisions were made and the veins were “stripped” out. This procedure was understandably painful and involved some risk. Fortunately, his surgery is now essentially obsolete. Vein treatments have come a long way in recent years, and now, most leg vein issues can be resolved with quick and simple in-office procedures.
Let’s dive into some of these office-based treatments that are essentially painless and require little to no recovery:
- Laser treatment: A small laser fiber is guided by ultrasound into the varicose vein, causing the vein to collapse, and blood is then redirected into the healthy veins deeper inside the leg.
- Sclerotherapy: Medication is injected into the spider veins to make them disappear.
- Microphlebectomy: Larger varicose veins that aren’t candidates for the above options may ultimately require removal through a few tiny microincisions in the office with local anesthetic.
People sometimes delay treating their leg veins because they dread having to go to a cold, uncomfortable medical facility. Patients often will see a physician who only treats veins part-time as a small part of his or her medical practice. For patients to receive comprehensive vein care, it’s important to seek out a practice that is 100 percent dedicated to venous treatments.
Dr. Keith Thompson is a vein specialist, board-certified vascular surgeon and owner of the Vein Institute of South Mississippi. Reach him at (601) 336-8368.