A step-by-step guide for your vein treatment options.
Nearly 25 percent of the general U.S. population is affected by varicose veins, caused by chronic superficial venous insufficiency, and, women make up more than 75-80 percent of this number. The Varicose Vein Center at Inland Imaging offers complimentary screening exams to assess the vein health of your legs. Upon completion of the exam, further tests may be recommended.
Your treatment options will vary depending on your diagnosis. The Varicose Vein Center specializes in providing you with a unique treatment designed for your vein problems.
The most common vein problem is spider veins. These broken capillaries, properly named telangiectasias, are small red, blue or purple web-like veins on the surface of the skin and cause some people to be self-conscious. Spider veins are small, thin dilated veins that lie close to the surface of the skin. Although spider veins do not pose health risks, they can cause significant discomfort, particularly in the legs after prolonged standing.
The primary factors contributing to the development of spider veins, include heredity, pregnancy, hormones, weight gain, and prolonged standing or sitting. Spider veins typically occur more frequently in women.
Many patients complain of pain, described as an aching or cramping in the legs. Other common symptoms include tiredness, restlessness, burning, throbbing, tingling, or heaviness in the legs.
Learn more about the treatment for spider veins.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency or CVI is a medical condition where the veins cannot pump enough oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. As functional valves are required to provide for efficient blood return from the lower extremities, CVI often occurs in the veins of the legs. Itching is sometimes a symptom, along with discoloration and swelling. The skin may react with thickening and chronic swelling of the legs and ankles. Prolonged CVI may result in ulcers. Women make up the largest demographic for this problem, but men also suffer from damaged leg vein valves and develop this condition.
The Varicose Vein Center utilizes duplex ultrasound for the detection of CVI.
Healthy veins return blood to the heart so it can be re-oxygenated. One-way valves within the veins ensure that the blood flows in one direction, towards the heart. When valves fail or leak, the blood flows backwards, causing blood to pool in the veins. The increased pressure from the pooling stretches the vein, causing enlarged, twisted blood vessels. The resulting bumpy, rope like veins are varicose veins. It normally takes years for symptoms of varicose veins to develop. While varicose veins are commonly inherited, anyone can get them. Hormonal changes brought on by puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can trigger the onset of varicose veins.
Varicose Vein Symptoms
Varicose veins can cause swelling in the legs and feet, create a sense of fatigue in leg muscles, and cause leg throbbing or cramping. Often, the skin surrounding the varicose veins frequently itches and burns.
Left untreated, severe varicose veins can compromise the nutrition of the skin and lead to eczema, inflammation or even ulceration of the lower leg. Ulcerations are difficult to treat and can become easily infected and painful. Many of these symptoms and complications can be prevented by early treatment of varicose veins.
Designing Your Treatment
Vein disorders are not always visible and therefore modern diagnostic techniques are important tools in determining the cause and severity of your problem. Depending upon the results of your screening examination, you may have additional tests recommended such as a diagnostic ultrasound to identify the extent of your vein damage. The ultrasound examination is used by our provider to look at the blood flow in your leg veins.
With today’s advances in medical technology, there are many options for treatment for your condition. These may include sclerotherapy, vein ablation, or surgery. Treatment is customized based upon your individual needs and will depend on the extent of the vein problem, your overall health, and your risk factors. Most often, treating your condition will require a combination of available treatments.
There are two FDA approved methods of sealing the offending large veins that contribute to the visible varicosities: Laser (VenaCure EVLT™) or radiofrequency (Venefit™) energy. The two methods, which essentially seal the vein shut with heat energy, are equally effective—about 97 percent—your physician will guide you in knowing which one is the best choice for you. Each procedure is done in the office under local anesthesia and typically takes about an hour. Following the procedure, a support stocking is worn on the treated leg.
VenaCure EVLT™ Procedure
Endovenous Laser Treatment for the elimination of varicose veins is quickly becoming the gold -standard in the treatment of varicose veins. Endovenous Laser Treatment uses laser energy, which is simply a highly concentrated beam of light. Medical lasers work by delivering this light energy to the targeted tissue with extreme precision, so as not to affect the surrounding tissue. Lasers have proven their safety and effectiveness through years of use in all types of medical procedures, from eye surgery to dermatology. In the hands of a skilled physician, lasers offer far less risk for complications than conventional surgery.
In EndoVenous Laser Treatment, a thin fiber is inserted into the damaged vein through a very small entry point in the skin. A laser light is emitted through jacketed fiber which prevents any contact between the fiber and the vein wall. This prevents much of the pain and bruising that is often associated with the more conventional method of ligation and stripping. As the fiber is pulled back through the vein, it delivers just the right amount of focused energy. The targeted tissue reacts with the light energy, causing the vein to close and seal shut. The veins that are closed are superficial veins that handle less than five percent of the body's blood flow. The blood is automatically routed to other, healthy veins.
The procedure is minimally invasive and requires no general anesthesia. Only local anesthetic is used to numb the area where the physician is working. Some patients may experience temporary soreness or some slight swelling, which can be treated effectively with over-the-counter, non-aspirin pain relievers and typically subsides within the first five days.
For a descriptive step-by-step list, download the Laser Treatment Pathway PDF.
The Venefit™ procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. Using ultrasound, your physician will position the closure catheter into the damaged vein through a small opening in the skin. The tiny catheter powered by radio-frequency (RF) energy delivers heat to the vein wall. As the thermal energy is delivered, the vein wall shrinks and the vein is sealed closed. Once the damaged vein is closed, blood is re-routed to other healthy veins. Following the procedure, a simple bandage is placed over the insertion site, and additional compression may be provided to aid healing.
The VenaSeal™ closure system is the only non-tumescent, non-thermal, non-sclerosant procedure that uses a proprietary medical adhesive delivered endovenously to close the vein. This unique approach eliminates the risk of thermal nerve injury when treating the small saphenous vein, which is a risk sometimes associated with certain thermal-based procedures. Clinical studies have demonstrated that the procedure is safe and effective. The procedure is administered without the use of tumescent anesthesia, avoiding patient discomfort associated with multiple needle sticks.
Microambulatory phlebectomy is a procedure in which large surface varicose veins are removed through very small incisions that do not require stitches. It is usually performed in conjunction with endovenous ablation or another sclerotherapy. Skin incisions as small as 1mm are used to access varicose veins with a phlebectomy hook. This hook is inserted into the micro-incision in the leg and a section of the vein is hooked and then removed through the incision. With this procedure, a compression stocking is worn continuously for 72 hours and then daily for an additional two to three weeks. This minimizes swelling and discomfort and allows for proper healing to produce the best result possible.
Sclerotherapy Spider Vein Treatment
Most spider veins are treated with a technique called sclerotherapy. A very fine needle is used to inject a solution (sclerosant) directly into the veins. This solution causes the lining of the veins to swell and eventually seal off the blood vessel, preventing blood flow. Each vein may require more than one injection. Some results may be seen immediately; some results may take weeks or even months.
Following the sclerotherapy for your spider veins, the leg must be supported to allow the vein walls to stick together. This is accomplished by using compression bandages or graduated support stockings. These stockings appear just like tall socks and have no discomfort.