Do you have bulging, blue, unsightly veins in your legs? Known as varicose veins, these veins are not just ugly -- they can often cause itching, pain and aches in the legs. Many people who ignore their varicose veins for years finally seek treatment when they start experiencing these symptoms. If you're one of those people who have recently decided to seek treatment, it helps to know what to expect.
Your doctor should be able to diagnose you with varicose veins just by looking at then, but in order to determine the severity of the veins, he or she may need to administer some extra tests. An ultrasound, which is a painless test that involves using sound waves to create images, will allow your doctor to see the insides of your veins and assess the severity of the condition. Your doctor may also place pressure on the veins and see how long it takes them to refill with blood -- this procedure might be a little uncomfortable, but should not cause pain.
If your case is determined to be mild to moderate, your doctor will likely try nonsurgical treatment methods first. This will involve elevating your legs for a certain period of time each day in order to encourage blood to drain back to your heart. Over time, this can reduce swelling in your veins. You will likely be told to wear compression socks, which keep blood from pooling in your veins. Spending less time on your feet, and wearing supportive shoes when you must stand or walk for long periods, will also help.
If your varicose veins are more severe, or if they do not respond to the non-surgical treatments above, your doctor may recommend undergoing surgery to repair them. There are several types of surgery that may be used:
Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a special chemical is injected into your veins. This causes the vein to die; eventually your body re-absorbs the dead vein tissue, and the vein will disappear. People with only a few varicose veins often benefit the most from this treatment.
Vein stripping involves making a small incision in the groin area and sending a special suction tool down the primary vein that travels down your leg. As your doctor encounters varicose vein branches emerging from this main vein, they are sucked out. This method is usually preferred for very severe cases.
Laser ablation involves inserting a laser tool into the main vein in your leg, and using it to kill any varicose veins that stem from that main vein. Laser ablation is best used for milder cases of varicose veins.
Your doctor can help you decide which surgical method is best for you, depending on your overall health and the severity of your varicose veins. Visit a clinic, such as the Cedar Surgical Associates PC, for more information.