Varicose Vein Treatment - Overview
Varicose veins disease is an inherited disorder affecting 30 to 50 percent of both men and women. A common misconception among the public is that the term “varicose veins” only refers to the ropy, protruding big veins in one’s leg. In fact, the term also pertains to the small and medium sized veins close to the surface, which we often refer to as spider veins and reticular veins, respectively.
The venous system consists of all the large, medium and small veins that originate from deep inside the legs and extending out to the skin surface. The venous system functions as a return system by allowing the body to fight gravity and push venous blood from the feet back toward the heart so it can be re-oxygenated and pumped back around the body via the arterial system. This process is made possible by small valves that line the inside of normal veins. When these valves are absent or dysfunctional, as in the case of vein disease, the blood is unable to flow back towards the heart resulting in congestion and pressure buildup.
Varicose vein disease is in fact a disorder caused by this congestion, which we call venous hypertension or high blood pressure in the veins. Veins subjected to this chronic pressure will over time start twisting and dilating, resulting in a “varicose vein.”
Venous blood is considered “dirty blood” since it is deoxygenated and full of metabolic waste products given off by normal body tissue. The more byproducts present in the blood, the more acidic the venous blood becomes. When acidic venous blood is allowed to pool in a vessel, as in the case of chronic venous insufficiency or varicose vein disease, the result is a varicose vein that is red, irritated, inflamed, and tender.
Varicose and Facial Veins
It's easy to feel alone or isolated if you suffer from varicose veins, but you actually have a very common condition-in fact, between 30 and 50 percent of American adults have varicose veins.
If you suffer from this condition, you might have large, protruding varicose veins around your legs, or you could have smaller varicose veins called spider veins on your legs or face. Either way, at the Sheen Vein Institute, we have the skills and experience to solve your problem.
To understand how we treat your varicose veins, you should first understand what causes the condition. Your legs' veins do the hard work of pushing your blood against gravity up to your heart, where it can take in more oxygen and recirculate.
The pressure of working against gravity takes a toll on your veins. Over time, the valves inside your veins can back up, and the blood that pools behind them makes your veins look red and feel swollen or sore.
Many people experience varicose veins in their legs, but you can also experience facial veins if the valves in your veins back up.
Non-Surgical Varicose Vein Treatment Options
In the past, treating varicose veins meant performing surgery. Fortunately, more modern techniques allow doctors to treat varicose veins-even those deep in the legs-without performing invasive procedures.
At Sheen Vein Institute, endovenous ablation laser therapy (ELT) is one key part of our varicose vein treatment. ELT has been FDA-approved since 2001, and while it can cause some temporary bruising or soreness, it doesn't cause scarring or long-term pain. It also has a very high success rate-98% of patients respond well to the treatment as performed by well-trained professionals.
We also offer ultrasound-guided foam scleropathy (UGFS). This treatment option involves injecting a foam-like drug into the veins and tracking its progress with ultrasound over the next few months. Patients should start to feel improvements after a month or so.
If you live in or near St. Louis and need varicose or facial vein treatment, visit our office to talk about any of the above options. We're here to help you look and feel your best, and we'll work closely with you to find the least invasive option that alleviates your pain.
Varicose Vein Diagnosis
Every person is different and every leg is different. An accurate diagnosis will tailor the best course of treatment based on the uniqueness of each individual.
An initial office consultation is comprehensive and takes approximately one hour. It includes a quick ultrasound scan to obtain a general overview of the internal workings of the leg to help determine the underlying problem responsible for the individual’s complaint that prompted the visit. The doctor will then consult with the patient to obtain a complete medical history including what symptoms the patient is experiencing. From the medical evaluation and the ultrasound results, the physician will determine whether the complaints are consistent with large or small/medium vein disease or some other medical condition.
For those suffering with large ropy-like veins or other deep vein issues, the next step is a procedure called “mapping,” a 45-minute ultrasound that goes from hip to ankle taking pictures and measurements of the leg. The mapping provides the information necessary for the doctor to document the patient’s vein issues and to determine the appropriate treatment protocol necessary for the individual. This information is then presented to the patient to help them understand their specific medical condition and what treatment is required.
Varicose Vein Symptoms
The symptoms of large varicose veins are most noticeably cosmetic. They are bulging, ropy and unsightly in appearance. These dilated, ropy veins, however, can also cause an assortment of symptoms ranging from mild aching and throbbing to an extremely uncomfortable sore spot caused by a blood clot in the ropy vein, often referred to as a superficial thrombophlebitis.
Genetics and heredity play a major role in the development of vein conditions. Factors that accentuate these inherited conditions include age, pregnancy and other life events such as leg trauma from surgery or accidents and long periods of standing or sitting.
Once a diagnosis and treatment plan has been determined, the staff will review insurance and cost issues involved in treatment. Patients receive a cost estimate at based on their specific medical insurance coverage. Most insurance plans will cover vein treatments provided that the patient’s medical condition meets the medical criteria established by the insurance carrier. The cost of treatment will depend on what treatments are authorized and how much treatment the individual requires. All insurance authorizations are obtained before any treatment can begin.