Varicose Veins Treatment + How Veins Shrink: A Closer Look

varicose veins on legs

Table of Contents

  • Varicose Vein Symptoms
  • Treating Varicose Veins
  • How Varicose Veins Shrink After Treatment
  • Visit a Vein Specialist

Varicose veins are bulging, twisted veins that appear on your leg. Superficial veins in your legs become varicose because of increased pressure in the lower half of your body. The pressure affects the valves that prevent blood flow from your legs to your heart. Your blood pools in the veins, making them look enlarged, twisted, and discolored. 

If you have enlarged, twisted blue veins on your legs, you’re not alone. About 23% of adults in America have varicose veins. Varicose veins affect 22 million women and 11 million men between 40 and 80 years of age. They are more commonly seen in older women.

For many people, varicose veins are an unsightly cosmetic concern. Others may feel some pain or discomfort in their legs. Sometimes, varicose veins can cause serious complications. Of the total number of people with varicose veins, approximately 2 million can develop complications such as chronic venous insufficiency and leg ulcers.

If you are concerned about varicose veins, treatments are available that can resolve both health issues and cosmetic appearance. 

Varicose Vein Symptoms

Varicose veins look like twisted, bulging cords on your legs. They have a bluish or purple color. They are often painless, but some may have these symptoms:

  • Pain or ache 
  • Heaviness
  • Burning, throbbing, or soreness 
  • Cramping 
  • Swelling
  • Worsened pain after prolonged sitting or standing 
  • Itching around a varicose vein
  • Skin discoloration around a varicose vein

Treating Varicose Veins

People look for varicose vein treatments to get rid of painful symptoms and for cosmetic purposes. Several types of treatment for varicose veins are available. They are used to close the central vein causing the problem, resolve the pressure on the surrounding veins, and relieve pain and soreness. 

Most varicose vein treatments are simple, minimally invasive, quick, and almost painless. These are the procedures used for treating varicose veins: 

1. Endovenous Laser Ablation

This procedure is also called endovenous laser treatment. It uses targeted heat energy from a powerful laser to seal your damaged vein. The laser is attached to a catheter, which your vein doctor will insert into your varicose vein using ultrasound. The heat of the laser irritates the inner lining of your vein and causes it to collapse. The collapsed vein then shrinks and disappears over time. Your blood flow then redirects into healthier veins. 

2. Endovenous radiofrequency ablation

Endovenous radiofrequency ablation treatment is a heat treatment like endovenous laser ablation. It uses the power of radiofrequency energy to heat the damaged varicose vein and seal it shut. Instead of a laser, your vein specialist will insert a radiofrequency catheter into the varicose vein to shut it. This will reroute your blood into healthier veins. The damaged vein eventually disappears and is reabsorbed by the body.

3. Microfoam Injection

This varicose vein treatment uses a microfoam agent known as polidocanol or sotradecol. The microfoam is injected into your varicose vein through a catheter guided by ultrasound. The microfoam irritates the vein walls and closes the vein. Your blood then is rerouted through the surrounding veins.

4. Cyanoacrylate 

Cyanoacrylate or VenaSeal is a varicose vein treatment that uses medical glue to close the affected vein. The glue is injected into your vein using a catheter guided by ultrasound. As the glue enters your affected vein, it collapses the vein’s walls, which are then sealed shut. The vein hardens, shrinks, and slowly disappears with time. Your blood flows through healthy veins, and your circulation returns to normal.

5. Endovenous Mechanochemical Ablation

For this treatment, a chemical called a sclerosant is injected into your varicose vein using a rotating catheter. The sclerosant irritates the walls of your varicose vein, which closes it. The damaged vein shrinks and disappears eventually, restoring healthy blood flow.

6. Phlebectomy 

Phlebectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to remove varicose veins from your legs. Your vein specialist and their team perform this treatment in the office under local anesthesia.

How Varicose Veins Shrink After Treatment

To remove varicose veins, your vein doctor targets the main vein affected, such as the greater saphenous vein of the leg. Varicose vein treatments cause the main vein to scar down, collapse, and close. 

Once the main vein shuts down, the blood can’t flow backward. The blood gets redirected into healthier veins and relieves the pressure on the leg veins. The blood stops pooling in the attached, superficial veins or the varicose veins, which visibly bulge from the skin. These bulging varicose veins shrink. Because they are no longer distended, the valves of the affected veins start working correctly, restoring healthy circulation. The varicose veins shrink back to their normal size after the selected treatment.

Often, varicose vein treatments effectively get rid of unsightly veins and painful symptoms. Sometimes, the varicose veins may not shrink back to normal size after the treatment, even though the symptoms go away. The veins can still be seen bulging from the skin. 

In such cases, you may want to undergo another treatment procedure to remove the visible veins. Your vein specialist will suggest techniques like microfoam injection and phlebectomy to remove the varicose veins. These procedures remove varicose veins that remain even after treatment. The treatment removes unwanted bulging veins and improves the appearance of your legs. 

Visit a Vein Specialist

Varicose veins treatments can ease your painful symptoms and make your legs look healthier. Treating varicose veins can also help you keep complications such as leg ulcers and blood clotting at bay. The available treatments are almost pain-free and don’t require complicated surgery.

If you have varicose veins, you may want to get rid of them for health or cosmetic reasons. It is best to consult a vein specialist to learn about what treatment is ideal for you. Find a vein specialist nearest to you with our convenient vein specialist locator tool. Get in touch with a healthcare professional in your locality and visit them to get your varicose veins treated.

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