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Treatments for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen veins often seen on the legs and around the feet of people affected by them. It is caused by faulty valves in the lower extremities that allow the blood to pool making the veins swell and bulge. This condition affects an estimated 23% of adults in the US.

The swelling in the veins can be painful and make the legs ache or otherwise experience discomfort. As a result, many with varicose veins opt for treatment to relieve the pain and swelling through lifestyle changes and sometimes surgical procedures are needed. In some cases, a varicose vein can rupture and require immediate treatment.

If the varicose veins are mild and only cause slight discomfort they can often be treated with lifestyle changes and the use of compression stockings.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Swelling

Often the first line of treatment for varicose veins is making changes in the patient’s lifestyle. Changes in diet, losing weight, and mild exercise reduce the amount of pain and swelling in the lower legs.

Other things that may help include:

  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods
  • Get moderate exercise daily to improve circulation
  • Wear low-heeled shoes or flats to encourage blood flow to the area
  • When seated prop feet and legs up with a footstool
  • Use compression stockings to reduce swelling

When lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure to remove or close off the vein causing the trouble. This can be one or several procedures meant to eliminate the problem and keep it from recurring.

Surgical Treatments for Varicose Veins

It is often necessary to remove the faulty vein or close them off so they don’t cause further problems. This may be concerning to the patient, but the blood can easily reroute itself through nearby healthy veins without any issues.

Some procedures that have proven to be effective include:

Laser Surgery

This treatment involves applying heat from a laser to a vein causing it to close off and be absorbed by the body. This is often recommended for small veins that require no further intervention. This is a popular treatment method for tiny veins.

Microsclerotherapy

This treatment method is often used for treating spider veins. It involves injecting a chemical into the small veins with a very fine, thin needle. The chemical reaction inside the vein creates scarring that closes it off permanently. There is a variation of this for larger veins using the same procedure but with a larger amount of chemical solution and a larger gauge needle.

Vein Stripping

This is a procedure that is slightly more invasive and used only for the most severe cases. This procedure involves cutting and tying the vein, closing it off and then removing it completely. Since it is more along the lines of traditional surgery, you will be given anesthesia medication so you sleep during the procedure. Recovery time is roughly 1 to 4 weeks and side effects can include pain, swelling, blood clots, and infection. These are mostly rare but they do happen so it is important to note.

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