Varicose veins are common, affecting some 3 in 10 adults, most of them women. These swollen, twisted, red-to-blue-colored veins most commonly form on the surface of the legs, feet, and especially the calves, as standing and walking place a great deal of pressure on the veins in those regions.
At Dallas Vein Institute in Dallas, Texas, vascular and interventional radiologist Dr. Dev Batra understands that although varicose veins are rarely a medical problem, they can be quite the eyesore. He’s committed to removing them with the latest technology — ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy. Here’s what he wants you to know about your veins and this innovative treatment.
Your heart pumps oxygenated blood to the tissues and organs of your body through a network of arteries and returns the deoxygenated blood to your heart through a system of veins.
Veins in your lower body, such as in your legs, have to push the blood “uphill,” or against gravity. They accomplish this, in part, by using one-way valves. The valves open, allowing the blood to pass, then they close, so the blood continues to move forward.
However, sometimes a valve becomes damaged or leaky. In these cases, the blood can flow backward along its path, pooling around the valve. It’s this blood that causes the veins to become engorged and twisted.
Aside from being unsightly, varicose veins can have many associated symptoms, which include:
Medically, varicose veins are not usually of concern, unless they’re located deep within the tissue. However, you still may want to have them removed so you don’t feel so self-conscious about the appearance of your legs.
Of the many different treatments for varicose veins, doctors will usually start with the most conservative.
Compression stockings range from over-the-counter varieties to those that require a prescription. All are designed to assist the muscles in your legs push blood back to the heart through graduated compression.
OTC pain medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help relieve occasional swelling and pain.
There are several medical procedures designed to close or remove the entire varicose vein:
Sclerotherapy is a common, minimally invasive procedure in which a chemical, usually a saline-based liquid called sodium tetradecyl sulfate (STD), is injected into the vein. This collapses the vein’s walls and causes internal clotting so the vein can no longer transport blood; the blood is rerouted to nearby, healthy veins.
The main issues using a liquid agent are that it can be difficult to distribute evenly inside the vein and difficult to precisely target the most effective treatment position.
Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy uses a combination of oxygen gas and a foam-sclerosant to target the optimal position for the injection. The gas, injected into the foam, functions as a marker for the ultrasound imaging. It allows Dr. Batra to see exactly where the foam goes within the vein so he can expertly target the proper area for collapse.
The foam allows for an even distribution of the sclerosant and rises against gravity to ensure optimal results. And because our team uses ultrasound rather than, say, X-ray guidance, there’s no radiation to worry about.
The procedure only takes about 30-60 minutes, after which our team may have you sit until any bleeding at the injection site stops. You won’t have to wear compression stockings afterward. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see the veins start to fade and disappear.
Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is especially effective for treating smaller veins, but Dr. Batra frequently combines this procedure with other treatments to remove even very large varicose veins or to enhance ulcer healing.
Are you tired of looking at veins you wish would just disappear? Well, you can do something about it. Give Dallas Vein Institute a call at 972-646-8346 to schedule an appointment, or book one online.