Veins carry blood from the various parts of the body to the heart and utilize valves to direct the flow of blood. With age, problems can develop in the veins and valves that lead to a variety of health issues. The formation of varicose veins is one of the more common vein issues. In fact, about one third of men and women will develop varicose veins with varying presentations.
Varicose veins are dilated, elongated, and twisted blood vessels that are unable to control blood flow as they should. They are formed when the tiny valves located inside the vein weakens and prevent blood from passing through easily. This causes blood to accumulate and the vein to swell. As veins continue to grow and become enlarged they often can cause uncomfortable symptoms which include:
- Common symptoms
Often varicose veins can be seen on the surface of the skin, but they are not always visible.
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing varicose veins including a family history, age, being overweight or individuals whose job requires standing for prolonged periods of time.
There are several treatment options available for varicose vein sufferers depending on the size, severity and location of the vein. Some varicose vein treatment may be considered cosmetic and not covered through insurance, while others may be deemed medically necessary. Insurance coverage often depends on the severity of the varicose veins and the associated symptoms.
While conservative measures such as elevation when at rest and regular exercise may help people with mild symptoms, people with significant symptoms may need to seek treatment, which varies from patient to patient. Traditional treatment options include:
Compression Therapy – Compression therapy is the least invasive treatment to support veins. Socks are worn typically throughout the entire day. The compression stockings support the veins by preventing the pooling of blood in the veins.
Endovenous Laser Treatment – Sometimes referred to as Laser Treatment. This is a procedure performed in the office. A laser fiber is directly inserted into the vein under local anesthesia. When the laser is activated, the energy causes the vein wall to collapse. Blood that would pool in this vein is redirected to normal veins.
Phlebectomy – Sometimes called Microphlebectomy or Ambulatory Phlebectomy. Ropey, bulging varicose veins are removed through a series of small incisions. This procedure can be done in the office or the operating room.
Sclerotherapy – A medication is directly injected into the vein. The medication irritates the lining of the vein causing it to scar and collapse. This works best on small varicose veins and spider veins. Several sessions are typically needed.
In some cases, the vein may not be easy to access or ineligible for one of these treatment options due to a variety of factors. Varithena® is a minimally invasive, nonsurgical injectable foam that provides a treatment option for patients suffering from varicose veins that were hard to access with other treatment methods. The procedure can be done at your doctor’s office and does not require incisions or general anesthesia. During the procedure, the physician injects Varithena® either by using a catheter to access the desired area or by injecting the foam directly into the affected vein. Once injected, the foam will begin to fill and treat the vein until the vein collapses and the foam then deactivates. Once the vein collapses, the blood flow is redirected to other, healthy neighboring veins. After the procedure, patients may resume some activities but should avoid heavy exercise for about a week. The most common side effects following treatment with Varithena® are leg pain or discomfort, injection site bruising or pain, and in rare instances, blood clots in leg veins.
Varithena® can be used to treat several types of varicose veins including:
- Tortuous (twisted) veins
- Veins above and below the knee
- Veins with small, medium, and large diameters
- Veins previously treated with other methods
Varithena® may not be appropriate to treat all varicose veins. Consult with a DMG Vascular Surgeon to determine what treatment option is best for you by calling 630−545−7565 or visit www.dupagemedicalgroup.com/services/vascular-surgery/.