“Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is very common and often undiagnosed or dismissed,” says Firas Salti, MD,RphS, ABVLM Diplomate at McFarland Vein Clinic.
Symptoms can have a significant impact on the quality of life. If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you may benefit from medical treatment of varicose or spider veins.
- Chronic leg pain, burning, throbbing and aching
- Leg fatigue, tiredness or heaviness
- Restless leg syndrome
- Leg ulcers
- Recurrent leg cellulites, eczema or itching
- Leg swelling
- Leg cramps
“Leg veins have valves direct the blood back to the heart. Normal functioning valves keep the blood flowing upward against gravity,” says Dr. Salti. “In cases of varicose veins, the valves aren’t functioning properly allowing blood to go back down causing the veins to dilate and blood to pool. Subsequently the pressure in the affected vein increases leading to permanent changes and damage to the skin at the calves and ankles.”
Anyone is at risk of developing varicose veins over their lifetime. Varicose veins are three times more common in women than men. Risk factors include heredity, inactivity such as long periods of standing or sitting in one place, obesity and multiple pregnancies.
Vein diseases left untreated will always worsen and progress sometimes resulting in serious complications, including:
- Painful and potentially life threatening thrombophlebitis (clotting in large varicose veins)
- Recurrent skin infection in lower legs
- Permanent hyperpigmentations at the ankle level (darkening of the skin)
- Swelling in lower legs
- Leg skin ulcers
- Severe bleeding from superficial varicose or spider veins
- Chronic and painful inflammation
The McFarland Vein Clinic offers free vein screenings to help diagnose leg vein disease. Most health insurance companies cover medical treatment for symptomatic varicose and spider veins.
“Prevention and early intervention minimizes the risk of serious complication and the need for extensive procedures,” says Dr. Salti. “Fortunately, many safe and effective treatment options are now available for patients.”
Based on the medical condition of your veins, different treatment options may be offered. The goals of treatment are to improve symptoms, prevent complications, slow the progression of the disease and improve the appearance of the legs.
Conservative treatment of varicose veins includes elevating the ankles higher than the heart and exercising to strengthen the calf muscle.
“Compressive stocking therapy is a relatively inexpensive way to help relieve achiness and pain, especially for those that stand or sit a lot,” says Dr. Salti. “Stockings provide a gradient of pressure, highest at the ankle and decreasing as it moves up.”
Graduated compression stockings need to be fitted to get the right size and strength. These stockings are not the same as T.E.D. Hose.
“Most patients have a combination of varicose veins and spider veins. Different treatment methods may be best for each type of vein involved. Because of this, more than one treatment method will be required for most patients,” says Dr. Salti.
Endovenous laser ablation, ambulatory phlebectomy and sclerotherapy are outpatient procedures used to treat varicose and spider veins. The goal of these treatments is to get rid of the vein causing the problem.
“Laser ablation and phlebectomy are outpatient procedures that take approximately one hour. Current treatment options are less invasive and patients are able to walk immediately after treatment and return to their normal activities within a few days following the procedures,” says Dr. Salti.
The McFarland Vein Clinic offers free screenings by appointment in Ames and Ankeny. Free screenings are non-invasive, painless and risk free.
Thorough evaluation for leg veins requires and ultrasound and can be scheduled without a referral from your primary care provider.
To schedule a free vein screening call 515-956-4158 or 515-965-3560.
To learn more about causes and treatment of varicose veins, check out the following online resources: