3 Minimally Invasive Treatment Solutions for Varicose Veins

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3 Minimally Invasive Treatment Solutions for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a common circulatory system disorder, affecting about three in 10 adults. While it’s usually more of a cosmetic than a medical issue, varicose veins — bulging, squiggly, red, or purple lines on the legs and ankles — can still be painful and cause skin rashes. They can also set you up for more serious stages of vein disease, so it’s best to get them treated.

At Advanced Surgical Associates of Northern Minnesota, board-certified general surgeon Dr. John Bollins and his staff see many patients with varicose veins at their three offices in Minnesota. Since untreated varicose veins often lead to more serious complications, they offer three minimally invasive treatment options that help both the medical and cosmetic problems these veins present.

Chronic venous insufficiency: the start of it all

Blood is circulated through your body using two components of your circulatory system. Arteries take the oxygen-rich blood from your heart and deliver it to all the body's tissues. The deoxygenated blood heads back to the lungs and heart through the veins.

The problem is that veins have the unenviable task of moving the blood against the downward pull of gravity. As a result, the body has developed workarounds to ensure everything goes where it's supposed to.

First, the calf and thigh muscles contract, squeezing the veins and forcing the blood to move forward and upward. Second, the veins contain tiny one-way valves. When the blood flows through, the valves remain open, but they snap shut as soon as it passes, preventing backflow.

The vein walls and the valves can sustain damage, often from high blood pressure and fatty plaques that narrow the conduits. The valves can't close fully once the blood is passed so that it can flow back along its track and pool around the damaged area. If the vein is close to the skin's surface, the engorged vein protrudes, creating the ropy, colored squiggles of varicose veins. This condition is chronic venous insufficiency because the flow is insufficient to meet the body's needs.

Any vein in the body can become varicose, but they most often develop in the legs and feet, especially in the calves. That's because walking and standing — and even your body's weight — increases pressure on the veins in the lower body.

Symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Burning or throbbing feeling
  • Muscle cramps, especially at night
  • Aching, heavy legs
  • Thin, dry, and itchy skin over the affected vein

The symptoms usually worsen when you’ve been standing for long periods, especially if you’re pregnant or overweight; walking or elevating your legs may help.

Not treating varicose veins puts you at greater risk for more advanced vein disease, including clots, skin changes, non-healing wounds, and infections.

Three minimally invasive treatment solutions for varicose veins

If you have varicose veins, don’t worry. Advanced Surgical Associates of Northern Minnesota has three good treatment options that can help.

1. Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into the affected vein that irritates its lining, causing it to collapse. Your lymphatic system flushes out the debris from your body over time, and blood is rerouted to a nearby healthy vein.

The procedure requires no anesthesia or special preparation. While you may feel a tingling or burning sensation when the solution is injected, you may feel nothing.

You’ll probably need to wear compression stockings for a couple of weeks after the procedure to prevent clots from forming, and you’ll also need to stay active for the same reason. Most people need additional sessions to collapse the vein entirely.

Studies suggest that sclerotherapy is effective in 60-80% of cases.

2. Venous ablation

Ablation uses either laser-generated heat or radiofrequency energy to close the vein. The rest of the process is the same as sclerotherapy. Studies indicate ablation is 99% effective.

3. VenaSeal®

VenaSeal uses a medical-grade adhesive delivered into the vein through a narrow catheter. When the doctor applies light pressure, the vein walls stick together, and the blood flow stops. The adhesive remains in the vein, so, unlike the other procedures, the diseased vein isn't eliminated even though your varicose veins disappear.

Do you have varicose veins on your legs and ankles? Even if they're not bothering you, getting them treated is important, and Advanced Surgical Associates of Northern Minnesota can help. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Bollins, call us at our Hibbing, Duluth, or Ely, Minnesota, office or book online.