Varicose Vein Treatment
Introduction to Varicose Veins Treatment
The following content is intended for physicians and other clinicians. If you are a potential patient seeking information on varicose veins, visit our patient section to learn about the causes, symptoms of, and treatment options for varicose veins and spider veins, including important information regarding insurance coverage for your leg vein therapy.
Prevalence of Varicose Veins
Nearly 40 percent of women and 25 percent of men suffer from lower extremity venous insufficiency and associated visible varicose veins. Most of these patients have long-standing leg symptoms which compromise their daily routines, with symptoms worsening during the day while they are working or simply living their lives. If left untreated, these symptoms can progress to a life-style limiting condition.
Varicose veins, and sometimes spider veins, are usually a symptom of venous hypertension secondary to superficial venous reflux, a disease that causes blood to flow backward in the veins, making them bulge and twist down the leg. This venous reflux, or incompetence, can develop into chronic venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency can occur throughout the venous system, but occurs most frequently in the great saphenous vein, small saphenous vein and other truncal veins of the superficial venous system.
Other symptoms of venous insufficiency may include:
- Leg heaviness and aching
- Pain and/or restless legs
The traditional treatment for venous reflux and varicose veins has been surgical ligation and stripping, an open surgical procedure that usually requires general anesthesia and can be associated with perioperative morbidity such as pain, bruising, scarring and nerve injury. Other treatments, such as high ligation alone or phlebectomy, treat only visible varicosities without addressing the source of the problem (venous hypertension from reflux within the superficial venous system) and have a high rate of recurrence. Now, there are newer, minimally-invasive endovenous ablation treatments that not only improve the appearance of varicose veins, but also provide relief from the accompanying symptoms.
Conservative treatment such as weight loss, leg elevation, or compression stockings may slow the progression of symptoms, but does not treat the underlying cause of the disease. As a result, varicose veins will usually become more pronounced over time. As the disease progresses, legs and feet may begin to swell and sensations of pain, heaviness, burning or tenderness may occur.