As an avid golfer, I really look forward to the days when weather and work allow me to get out and spend some time working on my short game. I sympathize with my patients with varicose veins, when the pain and that heavy feeling prevent them from comfortably standing and walking, or even just sitting as they ride to the next hole. Varicose veins affect both men and women and, without treatment, can not only interfere with the activities you love, but can be a health risk that may lead to serious complications.
Varicose veins are caused by any number of factors, including age, obesity, prolonged standing or sitting, family history, pregnancy and hormonal influences. What happens is that one or more of your veins are not working properly — not moving the blood back up the leg towards the heart, the way they’re supposed to, and so the blood flows backward (or refluxes). Then you get venous pooling in the legs, and pressure builds up, leading to venous hypertension. The blood needs to go somewhere, though, and so the body starts forcing it out through side branches and channels, and as those branches come to the surface, they start bulging out. That’s when you see them on the surface — those big, dilated, ugly veins.
One of the problems with varicose veins, however, is that you can’t always see from the surface that they’re there. Those dilated veins, that skin thickening or discoloration, as well as any ankle or leg swelling may be visible, but non-visible symptoms can include pain, heaviness, itching, throbbing, cramping, burning or restlessness, and should not be ignored. Varicose veins are usually progressive, meaning that, in most cases, they will get worse with time. They will never get better, or go away on their own, and can lead to serious health problems like chronic swelling, ulcerations and even blood clots. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you need to seek treatment immediately.
Anyone who has undergone the old-fashioned vein stripping treatment for varicose veins will tell you, it was awful: brutal, traumatic and painful. You had to go to the hospital, have a general anesthetic (where you were put completely under) and had to be laid up for weeks afterward. Thankfully, none of that is necessary anymore. Today there are medically advanced, minimally invasive, outpatient procedures for the treatment of varicose veins. In the comfort of our office, with only local anesthesia, we use a specially designed laser to seal shut the abnormal, refluxing vein and re-route the blood through healthier veins, restoring normal circulation. This is by far one of the most comfortable treatments available, giving rapid relief of symptoms with none of the lengthy bedrest required before. Any dilated surface veins may then resolve themselves on their own, or can be eliminated through sclerotherapy or micro-resection, both of which are also minimally invasive, outpatient treatments performed in our office.
Because varicose veins are caused by a significant underlying venous problem, and can lead to long-term complications, treatment is considered medically necessary and is covered by most insurance plans.
As Arnold Palmer once said, “The road to success is always under construction.” Don’t let varicose vein symptoms interfere with your game or any other part of your life. Call my office today to schedule a complimentary vein consultation, at (913) 451-VEIN (8346).