Your goal this year is to get rid of those bulging, purple veins in your legs so you're comfortable wearing shorts this summer. Varicose veins are easy to treat, especially if you do it early when the veins are still small. Most treatments leave little sign that you had anything done. Here is what causes your varicose veins and the various options you have for getting then removed.
Faulty Veins Cause Your Problem
Blood vessels move blood throughout your body and they are made so the blood only flows one way. Tiny valves in the veins keep the blood moving in one direction. In blood vessels where the valve isn't working properly, the blood can slow down and stop in the vessel. As the blood pools in the vein, the vein stretches and enlarges. This creates the bulging, purple veins which stand out on your legs.
Besides the appearance, these blood vessels can restrict the circulation in your legs, causing:
- swollen feet and ankles
- a burning sensation over the area of a varicose vein
- pain and fatigue in your legs
The faulty blood vessels cannot be repaired, so treatment focuses on removing the affected veins. When treated early, the body will absorb the blood vessels and leave no trace. If you wait until the vein is large, the removal of it can leave scar tissue that may not go away. There are a number of treatments that are done as an outpatient in a vascular doctor's office or clinic.
With this treatment, a substance is injected into the affected vein. This irritates the tissue in the vessel walls, causing it to collapse and shrink. The blood clots in the vein and your body eventually absorbs all of the tissue. This technique is used on smaller varicose veins and leaves no scar or evidence of the old blood vessel.
Laser Varicose Vein Treatment
This treatment is used on small to medium sizes varicose veins. A small incision is made over the vein into which a tube with a laser at the end is inserted. Depending on the type of laser used, light or heat from it is focused on the vessel wall. This causes the blood vessel to shrink and the blood to clot. Your body then absorbs the tissue. The incision will heal naturally and eventually fade until it's not noticeable.
Varicose Vein Surgery
For blood vessels too large to be removed by your body absorbing it, the vein must be removed surgically. There are two surgical procedures used to remove large varicose veins:
Vein stripping - An incision is made over the varicose vein. A plastic or metal rod is threaded into the vein and down through its entire length. Smaller incisions are made over the vein so it can be tied to the rod. The rod is then pulled out of your leg, along with the varicose vein secured to it. The incisions can leave faint scars on your leg.
For very large varicose veins, several large incisions are made over the vein so it can be removed in pieces. These incisions will likely leave scars on your legs where the varicose vein was removed.