The primary symptoms of varicose veins are veins that appear dark purple or blue in color and appear to be twisting or bulging from your skin. Other symptoms can include an achy or heavy feeling in your legs, burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, swelling, worsened pain after sitting, itching, or skin discoloration.
If you notice any symptoms of varicose veins, it’s important to seek treatment. Luckily, with the newest varicose vein treatment options, you won’t have to endure painful, outdated procedures.
Varicose veins are caused by weak or damaged vein valves. This causes insufficient circulation and your blood begins to pool rather than recirculate. The most common risk factors for varicose veins include increasing age, gender, pregnancy, family history, obesity, and living a sedentary lifestyle.
The older you get, the weaker your veins become. General wear and tear can gradually lead to varicose veins. Women are more likely to develop varicose veins however; men aren’t completely immune from them. During pregnancy, due to increased volumes of blood, your circulatory system is under more stress. Obesity also puts added pressure on your blood flow along with a sedentary lifestyle. This is why it’s important to be active and maintain a healthy weight. If you have family members who suffer from varicose veins, you’re more likely to experience them yourself.
If you’re at risk for developing varicose veins, there are a few preventative measures you can take. First and foremost, it’s important to stay active. Sedentary lifestyles can contribute to the development of varicose veins and can worsen existing ones. If you’re overweight, talk to your doctor about how to lose weight in a healthy manner. The more you weigh, the harder it is for your veins and arteries to work. If varicose veins run in your family, but you have not yet developed them, you can wear preventative compression stockings to help your blood flow more efficiently. Important Note: If one of your parents has varicose veins you have a 40% risk of developing them as well, if both biological parents have them you have a 90% risk. Always talk to your doctor to learn more about your specific risk factors and take a more targeted approach to prevention.
While many people believe that varicose veins are merely a cosmetic concern, they’re far more dangerous than simple aesthetic issues. Varicose veins can lead to a number of problems when left untreated. Eventually, the pain will worsen, and you’ll start to notice more swelling and a constant aching feeling in your legs.
Complications of untreated varicose veins include continuing pain, fatigue, and swelling and these will not go away until you see a doctor. In serious cases, patients can develop edema (an excess of watery fluid collecting in the leg tissue), venous ulcers, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which are blood clots in the legs. The more serious your complications get, the greater likelihood that you experience life threatening problems. Your varicose veins will not get better on their own, regardless of massage therapy, compression stockings, or leading a more active lifestyle. You need treatments for varicose veins to get better. If you have other conditions, varicose veins can cause complications unique to the underlying condition. Leaving varicose veins untreated is simply not worth the risk.
If you notice any signs of varicose veins or feel any symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get your varicose veins treated, the better. If you have no visible signs of varicose veins but are dealing with pain or discomfort, we still recommend seeing a doctor who is experienced in venous disorders like the board-certified doctors at Illinois Vein Specialists. Pain without visible signs of venous damage could indicate DVT, which can result in pulmonary embolisms and lead to potentially fatal outcomes.
Medical professionals estimate that about 25-33% of the entire population has some sort of vein disease, whether they realize it or not. Of those that suffer from vein disease, only about 1 in 25 seek treatment. Considering the potential complications and fatality risks of untreated vein disease, that’s an alarming number. However, it’s understandable when you look at common misconceptions about varicose veins. As we mentioned, many people only believe that varicose veins are only cosmetic issues and if they aren’t bothered by them, they don’t need treatment. For those that know there are further complications with varicose veins, they might not realize that modern treatment options have eliminated painful procedures used in the past or they think that the treatment will be expensive.
However, neither of these misconceptions hold any truth.
Today, there are new varicose vein treatment options. Modern technology offers nearly pain-free treatment and many insurance providers cover varicose vein treatment options. There’s nothing holding you back from seeking varicose veins treatments. In the past many patients with varicose veins were treated using a dated procedure known as “vein stripping.” Unfortunately, vein stripping was extremely painful, had long periods of recovery, and was only successful about 50% of the time. Due to these problems, vein stripping is no longer part of the modern vein disease treatment. In fact, new technology has virtually eliminated the need for surgery in the treatment of surface varicose veins.
Thanks to the creation of the medical specialty Venous and Lymphatic Medicine, physicians are able to specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of vein disease. However, not all physicians are the same. There are only a few board-certified venous and lymphatic physicians that have mastered the specific medical technology needed for the new treatments for varicose veins. These procedures are non-invasive and aimed at minimizing discomfort and expediting recovery. The most popular varicose vein treatments available today include ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy and endovenous laser therapy (EVLT).
Sclerotherapy works to destroy problematic veins using a solution that’s injected at the site. This solution is called a sclerosant and works to scar the vein, eventually causing it to collapse. When this happens, your body will naturally reroute the blood to healthier veins and the affected vein slowly starts to disappear. Your body is essentially reabsorbing the vein back into your body. A board-certified physician will use an ultrasound to pinpoint the damaged veins so that treatment is accurately applied. While sclerotherapy is often used to treat very small varicose veins or spider veins, it’s extremely effective and virtually pain-free.
Endovenous laser therapy is the primary procedure used to treat and remove varicose veins today. It takes less than an hour to perform and only requires local analgesia at the treatment site. By delivering just the right wavelength of laser energy to the affected vein, the treated veins will close. Your body automatically routes the blood to other healthy veins. While you might feel some unfamiliar sensation, the procedure produces only a mild degree of pain or discomfort for most people. There is no downtime and you are encouraged to carry on with normal activities.
EVLT immediately reverses venous hypertension and begins the healing process from the moment the patient stands up after the procedure. As an added bonus, there can also be an improvement in cosmetic appearance.
When you arrive at Illinois Vein Specialists, our board-certified physicians will start the exam with a physical. By examining your legs, checking for swelling, and asking questions about your medical history, we develop a stronger understanding of your individual case. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any allergies and what your current medications are. If you’re pregnant, let your doctor know. Treatment can still be done on pregnant patients, but there are factors that need to be taken into consideration during the process. If you’re taking blood thinners or aspirin, you may be asked to discontinue use for a few days prior to your treatment.
Once we determine the severity of your venous disease, we’ll suggest a varicose vein new treatment that will best fit your circumstances. Since both procedures are non-invasive, you will be awake and coherent throughout the entire treatment. While it’s normal to feel slight pressure or discomfort, you will not be subjected to the pain that’s felt during vein stripping techniques.
After your procedure is completed, your physician may or may not wrap your legs with bandages to help control post-treatment swelling or bleeding. This usually depends on the intensity of varicose veins and whether or not you have one or multiple treated veins. Follow your doctor’s post-procedure treatment plan to ensure that your recovery is smooth and without problems.
If you’re suffering from vein disease, don’t hesitate—contact the board-certified physicians at Illinois Vein Specialists today.