By: Samantha Kearney
Description of Disease
- large veins that can be seen under the surface of skin
- mild swelling of ankles and feet
- painful, achy, or heavy feeling legs
- itchy legs
- discolored skin in area surrounding the varicose vein
Varicose veins can be treated with lifestyle changes and medical procedures. Lifestyle changes are usually attempted first, but more severe symptoms are usually treated with medical procedures. LIfestyle changes include avoiding sitting or standing for long periods of time and avoiding crossing legs. Raising legs above the level of heart, increasing physical activity, and losing weight can also help. Tight clothes and high heels can worsen the symptoms of varicose veins. Compression stockings are usually recommended by a doctor to help alleviate symptoms. If these do not work, medical procedures are the next step. Medical procedures either remove the veins or close them. Sclerotherapy uses liquid chemicals to cause irritation and scarring inside a vein which causes the vein to close off. Microsclerotherapy is the same process, but is more commonly used for smaller spider veins. Laser surgery applies light from a laser to the vein which causes it to fade away. This is usually used for smaller veins, and it is beneficial because no cutting or injecting is necessary. During endovenous ablation therapy a doctor inserts a catheter into the vein and heats up the inside of the vein in order to close it off. Endoscopic vein surgery is similar except no heat is used. Instead, a thin tube and camera are inserted in the vein and then a surgical device at the end closes the vein off. Ambulatory phlebectomy is done to remove small veins near the surface of the skin. Vein stripping and ligation is usually used only for severe cases of varicose veins. This is when veins are tied shut and removed through small cuts in the skin.