Varicose Veins And Your Health

Posted: February 18, 2013 | Revised: June 28, 2018


There is no doubt that varicose veins can be unattractive. Many women choose to have them treated simply because they want healthier looking legs. However, there are other very important reasons to seek treatment. Varicose vein disease occurs when one-way valves inside the veins fail, also known as venous reflux. This produces a back up, or congestion, of blood. As a result, pressure builds up and the diseased veins become enlarged, eventually bulging to the skin’s surface. When these larger veins fail, they are called varicose veins. Using the Widmer classification, chronic varicose vein disease progression may be classified into stages based on the associated skin changes.

Stage I – Varicose veins are present with associated swelling (edema). Leg pain, heaviness, aching, and cramping may also be present.

Stage II – Symptoms have become more pronounced and complications are present such as discoloration, dermatitis and hardening of the skin in some areas.

Stage III – The symptoms are similar to Stage II, but the complications are more dramatic with open sores (ulcerations) that have developed on the legs.
Vein disease may not always be visible, especially if associated with significant swelling and skin changes. During your initial evaluation, a diagnostic ultrasound vein mapping may be recommended to determine the cause and severity of your vein problems. The treatments to eliminate varicose veins and vein abnormalities have improved dramatically in recent years, compared to the traditional vein stripping. In our practice, we use state-of-the-art endovenous laser treatment (EVLT). EVLT eliminates the abnormal saphenous vein, which is the source of most varicose vein issues. Using ultrasound technology, a small laser fiber is inserted into the diseased vein. Once there, pulses of laser light cause the vein to close and seal shut. This eliminates the venous reflux.

We believe EVLT is the superior treatment because it results in less bruising, offers immediate symptoms relief, requires minimal downtime, leaves no scars or stitches and allows the patient to be treated without general anesthesia or hospitalization. In fact, many of our patients can return to work the same day. Another advantage is that the recurrence rate with EVLT is about seven to nine percent, compared to 30-35 percent with surgical stripping.

Wearing compression stockings for a period of time after treatment is necessary. That is one reason winter is a great time of year to have treatment. For healthier veins, watch your weight, exercise regularly, eat a diet high in fiber and low in salt and consider the use of compression stockings. Compression stockings are especially important for people in occupations that require significant standing.