Varicose veins are common, affecting as many as 3 in 10 adults — more women than men. And more than 70% of Americans experience some type of vein disease. Varicose veins are the red-to-purplish, twisted and bulging veins that most often appear in the legs, primarily because walking and standing put a lot of pressure on the veins in the lower body.
Usually, they’re more of a cosmetic than a medical problem — they look unsightly, but they don’t impair circulation. However, they can lead to chronic venous insufficiency and deep vein thrombosis, two medical conditions that need to be treated.
At Dallas Vein Institute, located in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Dev Batra, an interventional radiologist, uses endovenous radiofrequency ablation to treat and eliminate varicose veins, restoring both your vascular health and the attractive appearance of your legs. Here’s what he wants you to know about your vein health.
Your arteries carry oxygenated blood from your heart to all the organs and tissues in your body. From there, it travels back in the veins to the heart. To ensure that blood flows upwards from the legs (instead of being pulled down by gravity), the veins contain one-way valves that close as soon as the blood is pumped through.
Sometimes, though, a valve becomes damaged or malfunctions. In these cases, blood can flow backward and pool behind the valve, causing the vein to bulge. When it reaches the point where the blood has difficulty flowing back up to the heart, it’s referred to as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Some 40% of United States adults have CVI. It occurs more frequently in people over 50, and, again, more often in women.
If CVI isn’t treated, the pressure and swelling in the vein increase to the point that tiny blood vessels known as capillaries burst. This may lead to local tissue inflammation and ulcers (open sores on the skin). Ulcers can sometimes cause infections, and if it isn’t controlled, it can spread to nearby tissues leading to cellulitis, a serious medical condition.
People who have varicose veins are more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This potentially life-threatening condition occurs when a blood clot develops in one of your deep veins. If the clot breaks free, it can travel to the heart and lungs or to the brain, causing a stroke.
If you have no symptoms or discomfort from varicose veins, you may require no treatment. Many people, though, are bothered by the sight of the ropy, discolored veins and choose to have them removed. Treatment is also necessary if you have pain or if there are complications such as ulcers or swelling in the legs.
There are a couple of common treatments for varicose veins.
Our team injects a chemical or foam into small-to-medium sized varicose veins. In response, the veins scar and collapse. The body reroutes the blood to healthy veins. Sometimes this procedure needs to be performed more than once.
Microphlebectomy is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure to remove bulging varicose veins near the skin’s surface. Our team makes a series of small incisions — typically no more than 1-3mm long — and the diseased veins are removed in small segments through those incisions. The incisions are so small that you generally don’t even need sutures.
Endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive treatment that uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to heat and cauterize damaged or weakened veins. The outpatient procedure only takes about 45-60 minutes.
Dr. Batra makes a small incision in your leg and uses vascular ultrasound to guide a catheter to the vein being treated. Next, he threads an RF fiber through the catheter and into the vein. Once in place, he turns on the device and slowly moves the fiber through the vein. The heat closes and seals the vein, at which point Dr. Batra removes the fiber and catheter. You probably won’t even need a stitch to close the incision.
You’ll have to wear compression stockings continuously for several weeks to help the treated vein remain closed while promoting healthy circulation. You’ll also need to walk around for 30-40 minutes every day, including the day of your treatment to improve circulation. Over time, the unsightly veins disappear completely.
Are you bothered by varicose veins, either cosmetically or medically? Do you want to learn more about endovenous ablation? Dallas Vein Institute can help. Give us a call at 972-646-8346 or request an appointment online.