If your once smooth and comfortable legs are starting to show varicose veins, you may feel more than the embarrassment of their appearance when you wear shorts or skirts. Varicose veins can cause physical discomfort like aching and itching at the vein site. Contact Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, VA to discuss how venous ablation can get rid of uncomfortable and unsightly varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Blood is always pumping through our bodies, carried from the heart by arteries and back to the heart by veins. Each vein has a valve that keeps blood flowing in the right direction. When this valve stops performing correctly, blood can pool in these veins, causing them to bulge and become darker because of the oxygen-depleted blood trapped in the vein.
There are many factors that can contribute to these valves not functioning properly. You can be genetically predisposed to varicose veins, inheriting them from your family. Varicose veins develop most frequently on the legs because the valves have the added pressure of fighting gravity to get blood back to the heart.
Causes of Pressure
The most common cause of varicose veins is pressure on the valve. There are many situations that can cause this kind of pressure and increase the likelihood of developing this condition. Situations of added pressure that can lead to varicose veins include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time
Anything that causes increased pressure on the veins to pump blood can cause them to stretch. This stretching may weaken the walls of the veins, making it more likely valves will become damaged, resulting in a bulging and uncomfortable varicose vein.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Each person’s experience is different, so while one person may not feel any discomfort, another can be constantly bothered by the uncomfortable symptoms of this condition. Most people experience some level of discomfort from varicose veins. Typical symptoms include:
- Change in skin color
- Sores on the legs
- Heavy feeling
- Swelling in the ankles and feet while standing
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to talk to your doctor. By performing a physical examination or a duplex ultrasound, your doctor can diagnose varicose veins. A duplex ultrasound checks blood flow and the structure of leg veins.
Once you’ve developed varicose veins, they won’t go away on their own. There are things you can do to ease your symptoms at home, but these only provide temporary relief of the symptoms and do nothing to remove the underlying issue. To provide temporary relief, you can:
- Elevate your legs while sitting
- Wear compression stockings
- Take anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications
If you find these solutions aren’t working for you and you want to permanently remove your varicose veins, talk to your vein specialist about venous ablation.
What Is Radiofrequency Venous Ablation?
Ablation is the process of using heat to damage specific tissue. During venous ablation, heat is used to close the problem vein, causing its collapse. This is a minimally invasive treatment done in our office, and it allows you to return to most of your normal activities immediately.
Ultrasound is used to pinpoint and visualize the vein to be treated. A small catheter is inserted through a tiny incision in the vein. This catheter will direct heat to the affected vein. Once in the right spot, an electrical current is passed through the vein, making contact with the wall. The heat produced by the radiofrequency destroys the vein completely.
What to Expect
You’ll have a consultation with your doctor to understand the cause and type of varicose veins you’re suffering from. If you’re considered a good candidate for venous ablation, you’ll be given a few preparation instructions.
Before Your Treatment
Once you’ve talked about any medications you’re taking with your doctor, they might ask you to stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or blood thinners a week before your appointment. There are also herbal supplements that may need to be paused before your session, like vitamin E and fish oil. You may also be asked to coordinate somebody to drive you home after your treatment session to ensure your comfort and safety on that first day.
During Your Appointment
Show up in loose and comfortable clothing. A numbing cream will be applied to the skin over the vein being treated to maximize your comfort during treatment. That area will then be cleaned and sterilized. A local anesthetic will be administered to the area where the catheter will enter the vein.
The vein will then be located using ultrasound technology so your doctor can see the vein and track its path. It’s time for the actual venous ablation to begin.
The Treatment Process
A small incision will be made so the catheter can enter the vein. You won’t feel the incision because the local anesthetic will numb the area completely. A fiber or electrode will be moved through the catheter and then exposed by pulling the catheter back. Energy will be sent through the fiber into the walls of the vein as the catheter is slowly pulled out.
Pressure will be applied to the incision site, and the skin will be covered with a bandage. You won’t need sutures: just the covering. These treatment appointments usually last an hour or less.
You will have a few aftercare instructions following your treatment. The first will be to wear gradient compression stockings. These stockings provide the greatest amount of pressure at the ankle, which gradually decreases towards the top of the stocking. These stockings reduce the likelihood of swelling or bruising.
You’ll need to avoid strenuous activity for a short while after treatment but are encouraged to walk around as much as you can. Staying active is an important part of the recovery process.
Driving After Treatment
One of the most common questions is whether a patient can drive immediately after venous ablation. It’s advised that you have someone drive you home from yourappointment. The next day, you should be able to resume driving as long as you’re in the car for only short distances.
Wait for the all-clear from your doctor before embarking on a long road trip or any air travel. Your doctor will give you specific aftercare and follow-up instructions. Each patient’s situation is different and may require different aftercare guidelines.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Only your doctor can determine if venous ablation is right for you. The selection for this treatment is multifaceted and requires understanding your primary concerns and the type of varicose veins you have.
If you’re suffering from the discomfort of varicose veins, talk through your symptoms with your doctor so you can find the right treatment for you.
Varicose veins aren’t the only unsightly veins that can appear as we get older. Many of us will develop spider veins that can appear as blue, purple or red lines, branches or webs. Luckily, there is a safe and effective solution to spider veins.
What Causes Spider Veins?
The same thing that causes varicose veins causes spider veins—a faulty valve. Backed up blood can cause dead-end veins visible under the skin on the legs. Spider veins can also appear on the face and are generally a result of a burst blood vessel.
Spider veins rarely cause any discomfort but are definitely a cosmetic issue people want to be addressed. They can appear in clusters anywhere on the legs, ankles, and feet and can sometimes be so bright they can be mistaken for a tattoo.
The most popular treatment to banish spider veins is sclerotherapy. This is a minimally invasive treatment that involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. This solution, usually a salt solution, irritates the lining of the vein, which causes it to collapse and stick together. The blood inside will clot and, eventually, the whole thing will turn into scar tissue and disappear from view.
The number of veins injected in one session will depend on the size and location of the veins and the overall health of the patient. These factors will determine how many treatment sessions will need to be scheduled.
What to Expect
When you arrive for your appointment, a numbing cream will be placed on the area to be injected. An injection will be made with a very fine needle into the targeted veins. Depending on the number of veins to be treated and the size of the area, your appointment could last between 15 and 30 minutes.
Afterward, you’ll be encouraged to walk around because this makes sure the solution is properly dispersed. You’ll also wear compression stockings for a certain amount of time, depending on your doctor’s instructions. Immediately following your appointment you’ll need to avoid:
- Hot baths, whirlpools, and saunas
- Direct sunlight
- Strenuous activity
- Aerobic activity
- Hot compresses
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Because spider veins are so visible under the skin, many people who suffer from them are bothered by them. Only your doctor can determine if sclerotherapy is right for you, but most adults in good health are good candidates. Your doctor will go over your health history to determine if this is the right treatment for you.
If you have a history of blood clots, your candidacy will be determined on a case-by-case basis. It will depend on your current overall health, the treatment area, and the reason for the previous blood clotting issue.
There are various treatments for both spider and varicose veins. Which treatment is right for you can only be determined during a consultation with your doctor or vein specialist. If you’re suffering from discomfort or embarrassment as a result of varicose veins or spider veins, your doctor may recommend one of many innovative and effective options.
Varithena is a minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins that involves just a simple injection of a microfoam that causes the vein to collapse. The vein turns into scar tissue, and its blood is rerouted to healthy, nearby veins.
Often considered a hybrid treatment, the ClariVein catheter features a rotating head that releases a solution into the vein much like in sclerotherapy. The rotating tip also removes the lining of the vein as the solution is released, so the results are much better than with one treatment alone.
It’s Time for an Appointment
If you’re tired of the discomfort or embarrassment of your varicose veins or simple want to be rid of the spider veins that keep you from being comfortable in certain clothing, it’s time to talk to a specialist.
with one of our experienced and knowledgeable specialists. We want you to be comfortable in your skin!