Varicose veins are recognized as the blue, enlarged veins seen near the surface of the skin. These superficial veins work with deeper veins in aiding blood flow. Blood normally moves from the superficial to the deep veins with a series of valves to keep the flow going in one direction. But when the valves weaken, the blood flow reverses, moving back to the superficial veins. With time, pressure on the superficial veins increases and they engorge with blood. Varicose veins can be painful and can make legs feel swollen, achy, itchy, or heavy. Legs also may tire easily or get cramps or sores. Left untreated, varicose veins can result in chronic swelling and leg ulcers.
Signs and Symptoms
Varicose veins are recognized often as the blue, enlarged veins seen near the surface of the skin. These superficial veins work with deeper veins in aiding blood flow. Blood normally moves from the superficial to the deep veins with a series of valves to keep the flow going in one direction. But when the valves weaken, the blood flow reverses, moving back to the superficial veins. With time, pressure on these veins increases and they engorge with blood. Signs and symptoms you may experience include:
- Aching pain, especially after long periods of standing or sitting
- Throbbing or cramping in the thigh or calf
- A feeling of heaviness in the leg(s)
- Swelling in the lower leg or ankle
- Itching in the affected limb
Left untreated, vein disease often progresses.
- Endoluminal vein surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which your vascular surgeon inserts a needle into the affected vein and closes the weak area using high frequency doses of light.
- In a mini-incisional varicectomy, all the prominent varicosities are removed through several tiny (2.0-mm) incisions. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and intravenous sedation on an outpatient basis. Patients can usually resume normal activities within 3-6 days depending on the extent of their varicose vein problem.
Other Treatment Options
At our Chevy Chase and Lafayette Centre locations, you will benefit from comprehensive treatment in a single visit. Importantly, you will have the personal attention, care and oversight of our experienced board-certified vascular surgeons who are part of the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. Misaki Kiguchi, MD, is a board-certified vascular specialist and Maria Litzendorf, MD, is a board-certified vascular specialist, both with a special interest and experience in treating vein disorders. As part of your evaluation and treatment plan, you’ll receive:
- A comprehensive assessment through an ultrasound performed by a registered vascular technologist
- One-on-one examination and consultation to discuss your specific condition and a proposed treatment plan that may include one or more of the following options.
- Treatment Options:
- Compression therapy—Prescription-strength hose for extra support and pressure to eliminate symptoms
- Sclerotherapy—Chemical injections into the spider and varicose veins
- Radiofrequency ablation—Heat, administered through a small catheter, to eliminate damaged veins
- Follow-up appointments and post-procedure ultrasound
Risk and Prevention
Varicose veins generally run in the family. Pregnancy and weight gain also can lead to this problem. But there are ways to prevent varicose veins or to relieve the pressure. If you suffer from or are worried about varicose veins, try these tips:
- Change positions often when standing or sitting.
- Keep legs propped up while sitting and don't cross your legs.
- Sleep with the foot of the bed elevated, with your feet higher than your head.
- Avoid high heels and clothes that are tight around the waist and hips.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Stretch your calves by going up on your toes.
- Wear support stockings or pantyhose.
- Exercise regularly. Walking is especially good.
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