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If you experience leg or calf pain after standing or sitting or taking even a short walk, you may have varicose veins. If you are suffering from leg discomfort, there are procedures that can help.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
- Leg pain or swelling
- Burning or itching skin
- Heavy, tired or restless legs
- Skin discolorations
- Open ulcers on legs
- Restless legs syndrome
- Leg cramps
- Blood clots
Varicose Veins may be a Symptom of Disease
An estimated 10–15% of men and 20–25% of women suffer from symptomatic venous insufficiency, the underlying cause of varicose veins. Varicose veins are often mistakenly thought to be only a cosmetic condition when, in fact, they are sometimes a symptom of larger problem.
Am I at Risk for Varicose Veins?
Risk factors for varicose veins include:
- Heredity - Having family members who have varicose veins may raise your risk for the condition. About half of all people who have varicose veins have a family history of them.
- Gender: Women, especially those that have had multiple pregnancies, are three times more likely than men to develop venous disorders.
- Profession: Professions that require long periods of sitting or standing increase one’s risk for venous disease.
- Age: While older people are at a higher risk for venous disease, it can start as early as childhood.
What Treatments are Available for Varicose Veins?
Endovenous Thermal Ablation
Endovenous thermal ablation is a minimally invasive procedure where a catheter is inserted into the diseased vein by way of a small (2–3 mm) incision. Heat is applied to the vein walls causing it to close. Your body then naturally re-routes the blood through other healthy veins. The procedure is done under local anesthetic and is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare. Patients often return to their normal activities the same day.
The VNUS Closure® procedure is a minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins. The procedure is designed for patients with superficial venous reflux; a condition that develops when the valves that usually keep blood flowing out of your legs become damaged or diseased, causing blood to pool in your legs.
Common symptoms include:
- Leg heaviness and fatigue
- Varicose veins
Many major health insurers cover the Closure procedure. Frye Regional’s Vein Center staff can discuss coverage at the time of consultation.
Spider veins are a result of dilated venous capillaries that fill with blood and become visible. These are not considered harmful and are often treated for cosmetic reasons.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into the spider vein, which causes the vein wall to seal shut, therefore stopping the blood flow. The vein will turn to scar tissue and fade away over a period of weeks.
When to Consult a Physician
Legs can become swollen for a variety of reasons. It is important to talk with a doctor to identify the source of your symptoms. Overlooking a correct diagnosis can lead to therapies that are ineffective. Furthermore, conservative treatments often do not address the underlying problem.
Key facts to consider are:
- Compression stockings only offer temporary relief for vein symptoms
- Varicose veins are usually a symptom of an underlying vein disease
- Diseases that affect the veins usually progress over time and may worsen is left untreated
Todd Piercy, MD, is a vascular surgeon certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Piercy uses the latest techniques and technologies to diagnose and treat patients at Frye Regional's Vein Center.
Frye Regional Vein Center
420 N Center St
Hickory, NC 28601
Fax: (828) 315-5830
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