Varicose veins or spider veins lie just below the skin’s surface and appear as swollen, lumpy veins in shades of blue or purple. Conditions such as varicose veins are a fairly common occurrence when a person’s veins are weak or damaged, allowing blood to pool. Sometimes varicose veins will result in slight to mild pain symptoms, blood clots, and ulcers. An individual with varicose veins may experience a sensation of heaviness in the legs, frequent leg cramps, throbbing and achy legs. People having these kinds of symptoms should seek vein treatment.
According to studies cited by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), varicose and spider veins occur in over 60% of the adult population in the United States. About 25% of those with vein-related conditions are men, however, women are more likely to seek treatment at a vein clinic than men. Some of the medical procedures for correcting varicose veins, include:
Sclerotherapy – This method employs a liquid chemical that is injected into the vein producing enough irritation inside the vein to cause it to seal itself and after some time is reabsorbed into the body. Sclerotherapy is most effective on smaller spider veins as opposed to large varicose veins. The patient’s legs are wrapped with bandaging after each treatment to keep swelling to a minimum. The entire process to eradicate the spider veins takes several weeks with visits of four to six weeks in between.
Laser Surgery – Simple laser vein surgery is performed to treat spider veins and very small varicose veins. The laser is a concentrated beam of light that generates heat which damages the targeted vein resulting in scar tissue, which in turn, closes the vein. Once the closed vein loses its supply of blood it dies and fades away after one or two years.
Endovenous Ablation Therapy – For treating larger varicose veins the endovenous laser treatment surgery is performed.The laser fiber is funneled through a thin catheter into the vein. The process uses laser or radio waves to generate the heat used to close the veins. It is a less painful alternative to vein stripping and ligation, with a shorter recovery period.
Endoscopic Vein Surgery – This method is typically reserved for extreme cases where the varicose veins are producing ulcers. The surgeon will make a tiny cut in the skin near the vein to be removed. A tiny camera inserted via a catheter is navigated through the vein and varicose veins treatment using a small surgical instrument at the end if the catheter, the surgeon will close off the vein.
Often the first course of treatment for varicose and spider veins is that of lifestyle changes. This may include more exercise aimed to strengthen and improve muscle tone and less sitting or standing for prolonged time periods. Avoid crossing of one’s leg while sitting, and elevating the legs while sitting or sleeping. If obesity is a factor, consider a weight loss program, as it will reduce the pressure on the legs and improve blood flow.