Varicose veins affect approximately 40 percent of the adult population and develop when deoxygenated blood isn't flowing normally through the veins in the legs. Usually blood flows from a series of superficial veins (those that lie beneath the skin), into deeper veins in the legs, then up to the heart. Tiny valves in the veins open as the blood flows toward the heart, then close to prevent the blood flowing back. Varicose veins bulge and rise above to the skin surface.
When these valves don't close properly, blood fails to flow as it should from the superficial veins to the deeper veins. Pressure then builds up and blood pools in the superficial veins causing varicose veins. More than 30 million Americans suffer from venous disease which includes varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency which is a more serious form of venous disease. Varicose veins are more common in women but we treat a fair amount of men as well.
Varicose veins are dark blue or purple in color and appear twisted and bulging and look like cords on the legs. People with varicose veins often experience an achy or heavy feeling in the legs. Other symptoms include pain or discomfort in the legs after sitting or standing for a long time. Itching around one or more of the veins also is associated with varicose veins.
Let me stress that varicose veins are not just a vanity issue. They can lead to other more serious problems such as blood pooling in the vein which can result in a clot. If a clot in a superficial vein grows, it can move into a deep vein which is known as deep vein thrombosis. This clot can break loose and move suddenly through the bloodstream to the lung where it can cause a pulmonary embolism which is a life-threatening blockage.
Varicose veins sometimes are the first stage of a more serious, progressive condition. They may progress to swelling in the legs which can cause darkening of the skin by the ankle. These patients can develop painful leg ulcers which are considered the final stage of venous disease. These ulcers usually occur on the inner leg above the ankle.
Endovenous ablation has been used for more than 10 years and is a treatment for closing the main superficial vein associated with varicose veins. Our team utilizes a method called the Venefit Targeted Endovenous Therapy which is a minimally invasive treatment. This is an alternative to traditional vein stripping which is a method of pulling out the main superficial vein.
The Venefit therapy is an outpatient procedure that includes inserting a tiny catheter which is powered by radiofrequency energy that delivers heat to the vein wall. As the thermal energy is delivered, the vein wall shrinks and the vein is sealed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will re-route itself to other healthy veins.
Studies show that endovenous ablation results in lower rates of pain, bruising and complications. Patients typically resume normal activities within a few days. Additionally, most insurance plans will cover this treatment,
Patients are encouraged to start walking immediately after the procedure, but they should avoid any strenuous exercises involving the legs—such as weight training—for one to two weeks. This enables adequate time for healing and for the treated veins to remain closed. Patients can expect some bruising and mild discomfort in the treated leg for one to two weeks.
Within a week, patients may start to notice a difference in their varicose veins but complete results can take weeks or months. Sometimes patients may require additional procedures depending on the severity of their varicose veins.
Usually a post-operative ultrasound will be conducted following the procedure to check the veins. It’s important to know that varicose veins are the result of a progressive disease, we treat the problematic veins, it’s still up to the individual patient, their genetics, and their lifestyle which dictates whether other varicose veins will develop over time.
If you are experiencing the symptoms and discomfort associated with varicose veins, and would like to make an appointment with Kristofer A. Bagdasarian, MD, FACS, or his colleague Khubaib Y. Mapara, MD, please call 860-582-1220. Drs Bagdasarian and Mapara see patients in their offices at Bristol Hospital located at 25 Newell Road, Suite D28. To learn more about vascular disease and our surgeons, please visit https://www.bristolhospital.org/Services/Vascular-Surgery. Drs. Bagdasarian and Mapara are members of the medical staff of the Bristol Hospital Multi-Specialty Group, and the Saint Francis Medical Group.