Why It’s Important to Treat Varicose Veins
Patients come to us with varying presentations of varicose veins. Most patients notice a steady deterioration of worsening pain and discomfort as gravity causes more and more reflux as the months and years pass. Some patients will see progression of symptoms to more severe complications of varicose veins.
If left untreated, varicose veins can cause blood leaking through capillaries into the tissues of the leg. The patient will experience painful swelling and inflammation as parts of their skin become dark and discolored. This is known as hyperpigmentation.
Venous reflux can lead to a continual low grade inflammatory process in the subcutaneous tissues of the leg.. The patient might feel that their legs are becoming increasingly tender with thickening of the skin of the lower leg. Lipodermatosclerosis is the term used to define the stiffening or hardening of the leg tissues.
• Venous Leg Ulcer
Venous reflux can lead to tissue fragility of the lower leg and minor injury can cause the skin to break open. A venous leg ulcer ensues and becomes difficult to heal as the elevated venous pressures retard healing. Furthermore, ongoing venous reflux can cause these ulcers to recur frequently.. Venous leg ulcers tend to get larger over time, leading to increasing discomfort and irritation in the legs.
• Spontaneous Bleeding
Varicose veins tend to break down the walls of the skin over time as the elevated pressures damage the skin. This brings the varicose veins closer to the surface of the skin. In some cases, the slightest scratch or scrape can lead to excess blood loss. While the bleeding is usually painless, patients may experience significant blood loss if the condition goes untreated.
• Superficial Thrombophlebitis
Superficial thrombophlebitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the veins just beneath the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are subject to these clotting episodes as the flow becomes sluggish and irregular. Phlebitis causes pain and tenderness which takes quite a while to resolve.
Deep Vein Thrombosis is the most serious condition related to varicose veins because clots in the deep veins can break loose and travel to the heart or lungs. Superficial phlebitis noted above leads to DVT in over 10% of cases. Blood thinning medication is necessary in the treatment of DVT.
Who to See For Varicose Veins
Patients with varicose veins should seek a licensed specialist in their area for an initial evaluation. Vascular surgeons are best able to best determine the severity of the case in question and whether or not additional treatment methods are necessary. The term “vascular specialist” is used by some physicians who take weekend courses to learn vein care. Vein or vascular specialists do NOT have the same training and experience that vascular surgeons possess. Furthermore, some franchised vein centers incentivize their doctors to treat a target number of veins per month. You should be aware that these franchised centers may not have your best interests at heart.
Treating varicose veins all depends on the severity of the condition. In most cases, the refluxing vein is sealed using endovenous ablation, or removed using micro-phlebectomy, or injected using sclerotherapy. Many of these treatments are covered by your insurance payer and are office procedures allowing immediate return to normal activity.