For many individuals, a varicose vein issue signals primarily a cosmetic problem that erodes self-confidence. However, for others, these abnormal vessels cause pain, other discomfort, and significant complications. Fortunately, vein specialists now offer a number of varicose vein treatment options.
Why Varicose Veins Cause Pain
A varicose vein develops because of a problem with a one-way valve in a vein. The valve’s job is to keep blood returning from the extremities to the heart from succumbing to gravity and falling backward. When a valve malfunctions due to injury, aging, or other cause, blood pools behind it. It can stretch the vein’s walls, causing them to bulge. The result is often a varicose vein.
The Mayo Clinic notes that the signs patients most frequently notice include:
- •Ropelike, bulging blue or purple vessels
- •An aching or heavy sensation in the affected leg
- •Lower leg throbbing, muscle cramping, burning, and swelling
- •Pain that gets worse after extended periods standing or sitting
- •Itching around a vein
- •Bleeding from a vein
- •Red skin discoloration and a painful cord in a vein
- •Skin ulcers or inflammation near an ankle
Adult varicose vein patients also carry an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. A DVT is a potentially serious complication that can result in breakaway blood clots.
Vein Treatment Options
Vein specialists offer two types of treatment for varicose vessels. Conservative measures include self-care steps such as shedding excess pounds, avoiding tight clothing, increasing physical activity, and avoiding extended periods sitting or standing. Compression stockings squeeze the legs to help blood move more efficiently.
When these initial steps fail to bring relief from pain or other discomfort, physicians offer several options that eliminate targeted abnormal veins, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. They normally perform these therapies on an outpatient basis:
- •Laser removal: The vein specialist inserts a tiny laser into the targeted vein under ultrasound guidance. Firing the laser causes the vein to fade.
- •Ablation: Chemical ablation guided by ultrasound is particularly useful for deeper veins. The injected chemical causes walls of the vein to stick to each other, closing the vein.
- •Sclerotherapy: Often associated with spider veins, sclerotherapy is useful for some varicose vessels. A chemical foam is appropriate for larger veins. It irritates the walls of the vein, closing them. The vessel eventually resorbs.
- •Microphlebectomy: Also called an ambulatory phlebectomy, this procedure utilizes small surgical hooks to remove veins through tiny cuts. Patients require only local anesthesia to numb the skin.
At an initial consultation, a vein specialist will perform a physical exam, review the patient’s medical history, discuss symptoms, and order any required imaging in order to recommend the best treatment option. While these convenient vein treatment options can eliminate varicose vein pain, they cannot prevent new abnormal blood vessels from forming.