Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen, or twisted veins commonly seen in the legs. They occur when valves in the legs veins are damaged and can’t pump blood back to the heart. This causes blood to pool in the veins, leading them to become engorged and bluish-purple in color.
Varicose veins are often painless, and they’re not considered a serious problem. Common reasons people choose to have their varicose veins removed are to get rid of the damaged veins and improve the appearance of their legs.
Some people may have more noticeable symptoms, like discomfort, pain, swelling, burning, or itching around the affected area. And if left untreated, complications can ultimately affect your varicose veins prognosis.
Varicose Vein Removal
Varicose vein removal used to include painful surgical procedures like vein stripping. However, vein doctors now use the following minimally invasive treatments:
Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatment (EVLT)
EVLT is the gold standard for varicose vein removal. During EVLT, the vein specialist makes a small cut in the skin and inserts an ultrasound-guided catheter with an attached laser into the affected vein.
The laser heats up and delivers targeted energy to the vein. The heat energy shrinks the walls of the vein and seals it shut. Once the varicose vein is closed, the blood flows through surrounding healthy veins, and the varicose vein eventually fades away.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Similar to EVLT, RFA uses targeted heat energy to close the varicose vein. But RFA uses high-frequency radio waves instead of laser energy to accomplish the same goal.
During this procedure, the vein specialist makes a small cut and inserts a catheter with a radiofrequency device into the vein. The heat energy seals the vein, which redirects the blood to healthy veins. The varicose vein is then absorbed by the body and disappears over time.
This is a quick procedure that uses a chemical glue — cyanoacrylate — to close the varicose vein. Most vein doctors use the VenaSeal system for this procedure. The process involves inserting a catheter into the affected vein to inject the cyanoacrylate. The glue then seals the vein shut.
Microfoam sclerotherapy is a simple, quick, and pain-free vein removal treatment. A microfoam agent is injected into the affected vein, which then damages the vein walls and closes the vein. The body processes and flushes out the microfoam agent, and the varicose veins disappear over time.
Phlebectomy involves using a small scalpel or needle to remove varicose veins under the surface of the leg. It is less invasive and less painful than outdated surgical procedures like vein stripping.
5 Things to Know About Varicose Veins Prognosis and Treatment
Here are 5 things you should know about varicose veins prognosis and treatment:
1. Complications of Varicose Veins
Even if you have painful symptoms, the prognosis for varicose veins is usually good because they’re easily treatable. If varicose vein symptoms are not treated, they can lead to severe complications, such as:
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Edema or swelling in the legs
- Venous ulcers
- Superficial blood clots
- Bleeding from the varicose veins
- Increased risk of deep vein thrombosis
- Skin infections
- Skin darkening or pigmentation
2. What to Expect During Varicose Vein Removal
If you opt for varicose vein removal, you’ll need to visit a vein specialist. They will recommend one of the treatments listed above depending on the severity of your condition.
Doctors generally use minimally invasive, nearly painless procedures like EVLT or VenaSeal because they’re quick and simple. They can easily be performed at the doctor’s office or clinic and don’t require anesthesia.
On average, vein treatment can take up to an hour. You may feel a slight stinging or burning sensation in the treated area, but this is normal.
3. What to Expect After Varicose Vein Removal
After your treatment, you should be able to return to your normal activities on the same day. You may be asked to wear gradient compression stockings for up to two weeks post-treatment. These will minimize swelling, improve blood circulation, and help you recover quickly.
You may experience the following side effects after treatment:
- Mild pain
- Tightness or pulling
- Skin pigmentation or discoloration
Your vein doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain medication to ease these symptoms. Consult your vein specialist if you have severe side effects.
About a month after your treatment, you’ll have to visit your doctor for a follow-up ultrasound to make sure the procedure was successful. You may continue to experience some swelling and discomfort.
Six months after treatment, the side effects will gradually disappear. By this time, your damaged varicose vein will fade away and be absorbed by your body, restoring normal blood flow.
If your side effects worsen or new side effects appear, talk to your vein doctor.
4. What to Avoid After Treatment
After treatment, you’ll be able to get back to your routine rather quickly. However, it’s important to follow your vein specialist’s advice.
Here are some things you may be asked to avoid after varicose vein removal:
- Vigorous exercise
- Lifting heavy objects
- Sitting or standing in one position for long durations
- Heat and sunlight exposure
- Air Travel
These activities can increase the pressure in your legs and affect your recovery.
5. Aftercare and Preventive Measures
Varicose vein procedures only treat your existing varicose veins. Once the vein is sealed, it won’t trouble you again. However, new varicose veins may develop in your legs.
Here are some steps that serve as both aftercare and preventive measures:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise and stretch regularly
- Walk for 10 to 20 minutes three times a day to improve circulation and prevent swelling
- Elevate your legs when you sit
- Avoid crossing your legs when you sit
- Wear gradient compression stockings to prevent swelling
When You Should Consider Varicose Vein Removal
Varicose veins are often harmless, but they can become a concern for some. When varicose vein symptoms start to interfere with your daily life, it’s time to think about treatment. If the symptoms become unbearable, find a vein doctor and ask them about varicose vein removal as soon as possible.
Consult a Vein Specialist for Varicose Vein Removal
Finding a vein specialist just got easier with My Vein Treatment’s vein specialist locator tool. Choose from a large directory of vein specialists across the US and find the one nearest you. Schedule an appointment, and say goodbye to your varicose veins.
1.AHA Journals — Circulation: “Varicose veins.”
2.Harvard Health Publishing: “Varicose veins: Clues to a deeper problem?”
3.Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Venous ulcers.”
4.UK NHS: “Phlebitis (superficial thrombophlebitis).”