What are Varicose Veins?
Veins are blood vessels that bring blood back towards the heart. Unlike arteries which have blood pumped through by the heart, veins depend on valves to make sure blood moves in one direction. Varicose veins are enlarged veins with diseased valves that flow the wrong direction and “reflux”. They can appear as discolored, twisted blood vessels near the skin surface on the thighs and calves. Varicose veins are usually caused by Superficial Venous Insufficiency (SVI). However, they can also be caused by more serious conditions like deep venous insufficiency, pelvic congestion syndrome, or even blockages from cancer. Unlike most vein clinics, AMIR offers evaluation and treatment of all these conditions.
Healthy valves (LEFT) prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. Diseased valves (RIGHT) cause blood to reflux and pool in the legs.
What is Superficial Venous Insufficiency?
Our legs have two types of veins, deep and superficial. Deep veins run alongside our arteries deep in the leg and are usually surrounded by muscles. As we walk and move, the deep veins get squeezed like a tube of toothpaste which helps bring the blood back to the heart. Superficial veins are near the skin surface and depend only on valves to bring the blood back to the heart. Valves often become diseased or damaged with aging and hormone changes such as in pregnancy and childbirth. This leads to reflux and the formation of varicose veins.
What problems can Varicose Veins cause?
Along with the cosmetic problems associated with abnormal, bulging veins in the leg, varicose veins can cause serious medical issues. Varicose veins can lead to swelling and pain in the legs which is worse with prolonged standing or walking. Pain can be felt as aching, cramping, heaviness, or even restlessness. In more serious cases, varicose veins can cause skin changes with redness, darkening, and itchiness. In the most severe cases, superficial venous insufficiency can cause ulcers and nonhealing wounds. Varicose veins can also lead to blood clots, inflammation, and infection.
Why Should Varicose Veins Be Treated?
- Relieve Symptoms: You may have symptoms such as itching, restless legs, aching, cramps, heaviness and tired legs. Though you may consider varicose veins as a mere cosmetic condition, its symptoms can significantly affect your daily life.
- Prevent Complications: Varicose veins can worsen over time and progress to more serious issues. Getting treatment early can prevent serious complications such as blood clots, skin changes, and venous ulcers.
- Improved Quality of Life: Bulging veins can be embarrassing and make you anxious or less confident about your appearance. Many people try to cover them up and limit participation in physical, sports and outdoor activities. Treatment can help you regain confidence and lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
How are varicose veins treated?
Different minimally invasive technologies are used to shut down the abnormal refluxing superficial veins. The venous drainage is then rerouted to healthy veins in the leg including the deep venous system. This can usually stop all of the serious symptoms of varicose veins described above.
ClosureFast™ is a procedure to treat venous reflux in the superficial venous system, often the underlying cause of painful varicose veins. The treatment aims to reduce or stop the backward flow of blood.
During the procedure, a small catheter delivers heat to the vein wall which shrinks and seals the vein close. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will reroute itself to other healthy veins.
VenaSeal is a treatment for venous reflux disease, a condition in which the valves stop working properly and allow blood to flow backward and pool in the lower leg veins.
Symptoms associated with venous reflux disease include
- Varicose veins
- Heaviness or tiredness
- Open skin sores
If venous reflux disease is left untreated, symptoms can worsen over time.
The VenaSeal™ system improves blood flow by sealing–or closing–the diseased vein using a a specially formulated medical adhesive.
Sclerotherapy is a common treatment for varicose veins. A sclerosing/irritant solution is injected into the target site where the varicose veins are present. The sclerosing solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel causing the vein to swell and stick together. Over time, the venous blemishes turn into scar tissue and may disappear. The number of veins treated in one session is decided by the size and location of the veins. There is usually a two-week interval between the first and second treatments and then a 1-month period to assess response.
At AMIR we use Asclera® (polidocanol) an FDA-approved treatment for sclerotherapy of:
- Uncomplicated spider veins (very small varicose veins ≤ 1 mm in diameter)
- Uncomplicated small varicose veins (1 to 3 mm in diameter) known as reticular veins
Your provider injects Asclera® into the vein. Over a period of weeks, the treated veins collapse and become less visible. Over time, the body naturally resorbs the treated vein.
The experts at Advanced Midwest Interventional Radiology use minimally invasive procedures to treat a wide range of conditions including varicose veins. We strongly believe in patient-centered care and use state-of-the-art technology. For all appointments and inquiries, please call or Click here to request an appointment online.