Varicose Vein Removal
Evaluation For Varicose Vein Removal
Varicose vein removal is one of the specialties of our Austin Vein Center. Varicose veins are swollen, dark blue or purple blood vessels that you can obviously see and feel beneath the skin. They often look like twisted cords, and usually appear on the calves, inside of the legs, and ankles. As varicose veins continue to weaken under the constant strain, then often continue to get bigger and balloon outward. This tends to raise the skin surface and causing the skin to bulge and thin out or get discolored. Many of our patients in Austin suffer from varicose veins of the legs, with over 25 million Americans being afflicted by the condition. Worldwide, up to 40% of women and 25% of men develop varicose veins during their lifetime. Most patients seek vein care to to pain, swelling, or unsightly appearance of leg veins.
Veins are blood vessels that return blood to the heart once it has circulated through the body (as opposed to arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body). Healthy veins carry the non-oxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs so that the blood cells can be replenished with oxygen, allowing the refreshed blood to be reenter the circulation once again. Veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing in the proper direction (i.e. toward the heart).
If these vein valves stop functioning in the way that they are supposed to, blood begins to flow backwards and pool in the veins, raising the blood pressure in the veins themselves. This process leads to a vein disease called venous hypertension and venous reflux disease. The build-up of pressure within the diseased veins leads to the vein walls stretching and thinning. This process leads to the development of unsightly enlarged and bulging blue veins beneath the surface of the skin. Vein specialists refer to abnormal stretched and enlarged veins as varicose veins or varicosities.
Small dark blue or purple varicose veins in the range of 1 to 3 mm in diameter are sometimes referred to as reticular veins. Reticular veins have a unique and distinct appearance to them and are often surrounded by smaller spider veins. Reticular veins (also known as blue veins) can also be distinguished from more typical varicose veins by the fact that they are usually located within the skin, in comparison to the larger varicose veins which are always located beneath the skin and tend to bulge more than reticular veins.
Our varicose vein specialists consider the condition a “disease” since the valves within the veins are defective and the blood flow within these veins is backwards. The disease process does tend to spread to other areas of the legs over time, as the leg veins are connected to one another through a series of branch connections. These vein connections allow the venous hypertension to spread from diseased varicose veins to healthy vein segments. It is often described as a “domino effect” of more and more vein valves breaking as they are exposed to the elevated vein pressure from adjacent diseased veins. Therefore, varicose vein disease does tend to worsen over time and begins to involve larger and larger areas of the leg. The sooner the condition is treated, the easier it is to deal with medically. Patients with varicose veins and reticular veins often develop aching, throbbing, cramping, burning, itching and other symptoms that may indicate a need for medical attention. Other patients with varicose vein disease may remain without symptoms for years.
Risks Factors For Varicose Veins
While varicose veins can affect nearly anyone of any age, they tend to occur more often in patients possessing certain risk factors, including:
- Older age
- Family history of varicose veins
- Female gender
- Occupations that require excessive standing
- Hormone therapy
- Lack of physical activity
- Excessive sun exposure
Although the risk tends to increase with age, varicose vein are often seen at very young ages, even in the teenage years. The sooner that vein disease is diagnosed and treated, the easier it tends to be to treat. Vein disease always progressively worsens with time.
Diagnosing Varicose Veins
Our Austin vein specialists can usually diagnose varicose veins and any associated conditions after a physical examination of the affected area. Additional testing may also be required, such as a venous ultrasound or venous reflux study. These studies allow the physician to obtain an anatomical “road map” of your circulation. This allows for more precise and targeted treatment options.
When to Consider Varicose Vein Removal Treatments
If leg veins are leading to any symptoms, one should consider medical evaluation for varicose vein removal. Patients report a wide variety of symptoms including burning or aching pain, throbbing, itching, and pressure sensations. Leg or ankle swelling is also a prominent complaint in those with varicose vein disease. Both discomfort and swelling can be signs of significant underlying circulation issues such as venous reflux, which requires additional testing for diagnosis.
While many of those suffering with varicose veins may not have leg discomfort, many patients with varicose veins are bothered by their appearance. Cosmetic reasons alone are the most common reason patients seek treatment for varicose veins and spider veins.
Patients often report embarrassment and reluctance to wear shorts or skirts. The condition can lead to avoidance of social activities or sports or the eroding of one’s self-confidence. They can even be the root of psychological problems related to body perception, such as body dysmorphic disorder.
Long-standing varicose vein disease can lead to many different problems, some more serious than others. This includes chronic wounds or ulcers in the feet and ankles (e.g. venous stasis ulcers), chronic leg or foot swelling or edema, discoloration or darkening pigment changes in the skin, thinning of the skin or other severe skin disorders including stasis dermatitis, recurrent thrombophlebitis, and increased risk of skin infections such as cellulitis. The longer that the varicose vein disease is present, the higher the likelihood of developing these medical problems.
Pain or discomfort symptoms in the legs can also be signs of more serious underlying medical conditions in the veins. Both phlebitis/thrombophlebitis as well as deep venous thrombosis can lead to pain or swelling in the veins of the leg. These conditions are best diagnosed by a physical exam and vein ultrasound. If these problems exist, you may desire to be evaluated for varicose vein removal.
Removal of Varicose Veins
There are many reasons people seek treatment for varicose vein removal, including frequent discomfort, chronic swelling / edema, or skin damage. Many people with venous disease also seek cosmetic treatment to eliminate or reduce the appearance of unsightly varicose or spider veins on the legs. Sometimes patients seek out treatment for varicose vein removal to reduce their chances of developing more significant circulation problems down the road if their veins are left untreated.
There are several treatment options available to eliminate or reduce the appearance of varicose veins and relieve any symptom. These therapies may include self-care methods such as losing weight, keeping the legs elevated, using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, regular exercise, and wearing compression stockings.
More immediate and permanent relief of varicose veins is often achieved through interventional therapies. With advancements in technology, vein treatments can be administered with minimal discomfort and very fast recovery. Some of the more common and effective therapies include the use of thermal energy, chemical closure with medication injections, or micro-surgery.
- Sclerotherapy treats varicose veins by injecting a solution into the targeted veins that causes them to gradually disappear. The sclerosant solution used during the procedure irritates the vein lining and turns it into scar tissue that eventually absorbs as the veins fade away. Depending on the extent of your disease, it may require several treatment sessions to achieve the desired result. Some FDA approved sclerotherapy drugs for varicose vein removal include Polidocanol and Sotradecol.
- Endovenous Varithena Ablation is an FDA approved and patented medication that is designed exclusively for treating unsightly or painful varicose veins of the legs. It is particularly useful in the treatment of serpentine or tortuous leg veins. This medication is a microfoam that causes a chemical reaction in the vein wall at the site of injection that causes the vein to scar and close. The vein then gradually gets absorbed by the body.
- Radiofrequency Ablation of varicose veins (also known as VNUS ClosureFast Procedure or Venefit Procedure) involves placing a small catheter within the defective vein which delivers radiofrequency heat energy to the vein wall, causing it to seal shut instantly. It is typically performed in the office under local anesthesia and requires minimal recovery time.
- Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) of varicose veins is a minimally invasive laser procedure that treats varicose veins faster, safer and more effectively than surgical procedures, as it precisely targets the affected veins with a laser probe under ultrasound guidance. The laser heat energy delivered to the vein causes the vein walls to scar shut so that blood can no longer flow through them. Following laser vein therapy, the venous blood flow that once circulated through the varicose veins is diverted into healthy veins.
- Endovenous VenaSeal Closure of varicose veins involves injection of the vein with a medical “super glue” that is specifically formulated to close abnormal blood vessels. This therapy is extremely effective and does not require the use of compression stockings following treatment. VenaSeal is considered one of the least painful varicose vein procedures. Following this therapy you can return to all activities immediately, including regular exercise.
- Clarivein Procedure of varicose vein disease is a office-based catheter procedure that is used to treat leg varicose veins and venous reflux. It uses a modern catheter technology designed by Vascular Insights to deliver vein closure medications directly to the vein wall through a mechanical dispersion process. It requires a single IV site and no incisions.
- Micro-Phlebectomy is a very traditional way of dealing with varicose vein disease. This procedure is also referred to as ambulatory phlebectomy or pin phlebectomy. Although the more modern vein therapies listed above have replaced the need for micro-phlebectomy surgery for many patients, there are some anatomical reasons why phlebectomy is still the best option in certain circumstances. Phlebectomy involves physical removal of the veins through small punctures in the skin. Although nesthesia is necessary, it can still often be performed in our vein center rather than in a hospital or surgery center.
To determine which varicose vein removal treatment option is best for your particular vein condition, call for a free no-obligation consultation with our Vein Specialists. For more information regarding the treatment options listed, please refer to the other pages of our website.
» Click here to view varicose vein before and after photos.
Preventing Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are often hereditary. While there is no surefire way to prevent varicose veins from developing, there are certainly lifestyle changes that can be made in order to reduce your risk of developing further problems with this condition. This may include:
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet high in fiber and low in salt
- Elevating the legs
- Avoiding sitting or standing in one position for too long
- Wear support stockings when on your feet for prolonged periods of time
Our Austin varicose veins doctors will provide you with more information as to how you can reduce your risk of varicose veins and maintain strong vascular health. If you are interested in learning more about the varicose vein treatments that Austin Varicose Vein & Spider Vein Specialists offers, contact us today. We proudly provide varicose vein therapy to all qualified patients living in Austin, Cedar Park, Lakeway, Pflugerville, and Round Rock.
Contact us at one of our Vein Center locations in Austin or Round Rock / Cedar Park Texas to schedule your physician consultation with our board-certified Vein Specialist:
Austin Vein Specialists
12319 N. Mopac Expwy, Suite 250
Austin, TX 78758
Round Rock Vein Specialists
170 Deep Wood Dr #102
Round Rock, TX 78681