What causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose Veins are caused by venous insufficiency or venous reflux, which occurs when your veins become enlarged, dilated, and overfilled with blood. Often painful, varicose veins typically appear dilated, swollen and raised, and have a bluish-purple or red color. Any vein may become varicose, but the veins in the legs and feet are most commonly affected, due to the fact that standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body. Leg veins are also located furthest from the heart and gravity makes it harder for the blood to flow upwards towards the heart.
Once a vein has become varicose, it will never return to normal and should be treated by an experienced vascular surgeon who specializes in vein disease. When left untreated, severe varicose veins can ultimately lead to chronic leg pain, fatigue and swelling, eczema-type symptoms, skin thickening and discoloration, bleeding, infections, and even ulcerations (open sores) that won’t heal until the veins are treated.
How are Varicose Veins treated?
After a prescribed period of conservative treatment, during which time the patient wears medical-grade compression hose while frequently elevating the legs, Dr. Craig Schwartz, one of Kansas City’s “original” vein doctors, performs an in-office endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) on the diseased vein. During treatment, laser energy, via a tiny laser fiber, is used to heat the affected vein, which then seals or “closes” it. The blood is then re-routed through healthier veins, thus restoring normal blood circulation and eliminating the source of the painful, bulging leg veins. Dr. Schwartz may also use the micro-incisional resection, or phlebectomy procedure, to remove the visible superficial bulging veins, or ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy to treat any diseased tributary branches that are just below the skin’s surface and not visible to the naked eye.
Can Varicose Veins reappear after treatment?
Many of our patients often ask whether or not their varicose veins may reappear after treatment. Although permanent closure rates hover around 98 % or higher over 5 years, there is always a small chance that new varicose veins may develop. Since this recurrence rate is so low, it is much more likely that different veins that were properly working at the time of treatment subsequently become varicose, requiring additional treatment. This is called “de novo” varicose veins or “disease progression”.
It is also likely that varicose veins may reappear after treatment if the patient was not initially diagnosed or treated properly, making it absolutely necessary that varicose vein patients see a surgeon who is trained and experienced in disease of the vascular system. For example, Dr. Schwartz has treated patients who experienced recurrent varicose veins after having ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy or topical sclerotherapy or laser treatment only, leaving the underlying source of the varicose veins untreated. Some “vein specialists” only offer treatment for the superficial, visible veins when, in fact, the diseased vein causing the superficial varicose veins lies deep within the venous system, and can only be closed using ablation. If a patient presents with symptoms of varicose veins (including visible, bulging veins, swelling, leg heaviness, pain after standing long periods of time, discoloration), the doctor or a vascular ultrasound technologist should perform a proper venous health diagnostic using a duplex ultrasound. Without it, the doctor will have no way to identify, or properly treat, the exact source for the varicose veins.
Trusting your vein care to a vascular surgeon, truly trained and experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of vein disease, will greatly improve the likelihood that new varicose veins will not appear in the treated leg. Although heredity, subsequent pregnancies and hormones are often the greatest indicators of whether or not someone will develop future varicose veins, maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, leg elevation, an ideal body weight, and use of compression stockings, particularly for those who sit or stand for long periods of time, will also reduce your risk for future developments.
At Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz, Dr. Craig Schwartz, a triple-board certified vascular surgeon who has performed more than 12,000 vein procedures, personally diagnoses and treats all our varicose vein patients. In addition to his impressive surgical credentials, Dr. Schwartz pursued further certification in the areas of Ultrasound diagnostic testing, both as an RVT (Registered Vascular Technician) and an RPVI (Registered Physician Vascular Interpretation), ensuring our vein patients experience and knowledge not only in vein treatment, but also the proper diagnosis of venous insufficiency.
If you think you may have Varicose Veins, schedule your free vein screening* with Dr. Schwartz by filling out the form on this page or by calling his practice at (913) 828-2099. Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz is located in Leawood, KS and proudly also serves Overland Park, Johnson County and the entire Kansas City metro area.
* Initial free vein screening will include a visual evaluation and subsequent discussion with Dr. Schwartz. However, if patient presents with symptoms of vein disease (not just spider veins), a diagnostic test, such as a venous ultrasound/duplex examination, that is considered medically necessary per the physician’s determination, will be billed as a separate charge, and $450 will be billed to your insurance provider. Pending your carrier’s response, you may be ultimately responsible for some portion or ALL of this charge, which may include deductibles, co-insurance and/or co-pays. If your insurance company denies this charge, your patient responsibility portion may be partially discounted if you proceed with vein disease treatment through our office.
** This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician.