Treatment of varicose veins used to involve lengthy and painful surgery. (No thank you, right?) We’re very happy to offer comfortable, in-office treatment of varicose veins that allows most people to quickly return to normal activities.
If you’re bothered, or even just slightly peeved, by varicose veins, contact our Lloyd District office to schedule a consultation. At your first visit, you’ll probably have an ultrasound of your legs to see how well your deep veins are functioning to return blood to the heart. In most cases you’ll meet with our vein clinician, Dr. Richard Hamilton, after your ultrasound to go over the results and decide on next steps.
Vein ablation could be an option for you if the underlying cause of your varicose veins is related to venous reflux disease. That’s a fancy way of saying that some damaged vein valves deep in your leg are no longer able to assist in the healthy return of blood back to your heart. The initial ultrasound will help us determine whether this is the case for you.
The vein ablation procedure is performed right in our office. Using ultrasound again, the physician will position a thin catheter in the diseased vein through a small opening in the skin. The tiny catheter uses radiofrequency energy to deliver heat to the vein wall. As the heat is delivered, the vein wall shrinks and the vein is sealed closed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood reroutes itself naturally to other healthier veins.
Admittedly, none of that sounds super fun, but we promise it’s not so bad. Our patients generally report feeling little or no pain during or after the procedure and minimal to no bruising, scarring or swelling.
Sclero-what? Let us explain… The principle of sclerotherapy is similar to vein ablation. The goal is to encourage the damaged vein to close so blood flow is rerouted through healthier veins—but instead of using heat in a vein deep in your leg, we are injecting a solution in a vein close to the surface. The solution causes scar tissue to form, which eventually blocks the vein forcing blood to reroute. Just like with vein ablation, the collapsed vein treated with sclerotherapy is reabsorbed into your tissue and eventually fades. We may suggest sclerotherapy to remove large, bulging veins near the skin surface. If you have underlying venous reflux disease, the sclerotherapy may be done in conjunction with vein ablation.
(Fleb-ek-tomy) Depending on the nature and location of your varicose veins, your clinician may also recommend phlebectomy—either alone or together with another treatment. Like sclerotherapy, phlebectomy is used for varicose or spider veins that are close to the skin’s surface. In phlebectomy, your clinician makes tiny incisions through which to extract the bulging veins. The incisions are covered with small bandages and compression. As with ablation and sclerotherapy, your body then naturally reroutes the blood supply through healthier veins.
You’ll be walking right after any of the procedures we offer and most patients are back to normal activities within a day or so. We’ll recommend compression stockings for about two weeks to aid in healing (they’re not as seductive as Mrs. Robinson’s, but, hey, recovery is pretty sexy, too). We may ask you to refrain from extended standing and strenuous activity for a short time. Many patients notice relief of symptoms like pain, leg heaviness and fatigue right away. The full benefits of the procedure may take up to six weeks, depending on which treatment is performed and we’ll be here for you every (increasingly comfortable) step of the way.
Perhaps the most difficult part of these procedures (after you get the pronunciations down) is working with your insurance company to get them covered. If you’re seeking approval from your insurance company to pay for treatment of varicose veins, sometimes you will need to try what they call ‘conservative therapy’ for a period of time to see if that improves your symptoms first. This can involve wearing compression stockings (hot, hot, hot!) for up to three months. Before you decide it’s all too complicated, know that you won’t be going it alone. Our financial counselor will help you understand your insurance company’s requirements for any of the treatments we offer.Learn more about varicose veins