Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)‑ What are varicose veins?
‑ What causes varicose veins?
‑ How common are varicose veins?
‑ How do I know if I have vein disease?
‑ Can vein disease be prevented?
‑ What can happen if varicose veins aren't treated?
‑ How successful is endovenous laser therapy?
‑ Who should not be treated?
‑ If the vein is closed by the treatment, where does the blood go?
‑ Is the loss of the vein a problem?
‑ What are the complications of vein treatment?
‑ What should I do after the procedure?
‑ What should I expect after the procedure?
‑ How can I get more information on varicose veins?
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are the large, "rope-like" veins which are often one-quarter inch or larger in diameter.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins occur when veins are not properly returning blood from the lower leg to the heart. All veins have valves that open to allow the How of blood to the heart and close to prevent back flow (otherwise know as "reflux") of blond to the foot. When valves fail to function properly, blood leaks through and flows down the leg in the wrong direction. The blood overfills and distends the superficial veins under the skin, resulting in the bulging seen in varicose veins.
The walls and valves of veins are thin and elastic, and can stretch due to a variety of conditions including pregnancy, heredity and age. When varicose veins become severe, it is referred to as chronic venous insufficiency. Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include aching pain, easy leg fatigue and leg heaviness, all of which worsen as the day progresses. Left untreated, chronic venous insufficiency can cause ulcerations which can be very difficult to treat.
How common are varicose veins?
Approximately half of the population has some form of venous disease, and varicose veins affect about one out of two people age 50 and older, and 15-25% of all adults.
How do I know if I have vein disease?
Fortunately, most vein disease can be seen by looking at the size and color of the vein at the skin surface. In some cases, however, the diseased vein may be deeper in the body and not visible through the skin. As a result, plaing close attention to other symptoms is important in diagnosing vein disease. Many patients with vein disease experience cramping, aching, burning, itching, sorness or "tired" or "restless" legs, especially in the calf muscles. If you experience these symptoms, your physician can quickly and easily perform a test to determine if you have vein disease.
Can vein disease be prevented?
Generally no. If you have a family history of vein disease, there is nothing you can do to change your genes. Being overweight can accelerate the progression of vein disease, and long periods of standing can also add to the problem. Diet and footwear are generally believed to be irrelevant in the formation of vein disease.
What can happen if varicose veins aren't treated?
Varicose veins generally worsen over time. Initially, slight pain and restlessness in the diseased leg will be felt. If untreated, this pain will increase and result in limitations in walking and cramps during sleeping. Eventually, varicose veins can lead to open sores on the foot, blood clots and tissue loss.
How successful is endovenous laser therapy?
Clinical results have been published which document the success of endovenous laser treatment in 98%. Like any medical treatment, however, endovenous laser therapy has certain risks which your physician will explain to you as they apply to your individual case.
Who should not be treated?
Patients should wait at least three months after pregnancy or major surgery before being treated for vein disease. Patients who have suppressed immune systems, persons with deep vein thrombosis or incompetence and patients who cannot ambulate for other reasons are not good candidates for treatment.
If the vein is closed by the treatment, where does the blood go?
Because there are many veins in the leg, the blood that would have flowed through the closed vein simply flows through other healthy veins after the procedure. The loss of the diseased vein is not a problem for the circulatory system.
Is the loss of the vein a problem?
No. Because there are many veins in the leg, the blood that would have flowed through the closed vein simply flows through other healthy veins after the laser therapy.
What are the complications of vein treatment?
Fortunately, sclerotherapy and endovenous laser therapies have rarely been associated with any serious complications when properly performed. Common minor complications of these procedures include bruising, mild itching, tenderness and tightness in the treated leg for up to two weeks after the treatment.
What should I do after the procedure?
After endovenous laser therapy, a gauze pad and tape will be placed over the puncture site and a compression stocking or compression bandage will be placed on your leg. You are encouraged to immediately walk following the procedure and resume normal activities. However, during the two weeks following your procedure you should avoid swimming, vigorous gym workouts, hot baths or excessive sun. Your physician will provide customized instructions for you to observe following your endovenous laser therapy, including how long to wear a compression stocking. If you have any questions, ask your physician.
What should I expect after the procedure?
You should expect to see some bruising along the treatment site as the vein disappears, which is normal and should gradually go away within a month. You also may feel some tenderness, tingling, itching or tightness in your treated leg during the two weeks following the procedure. If you experience significant pain, or have bleeding of the treated leg, contact your physician promptly.
How can I get more information on varicose veins?
More information on the causes and treatments of varicose veins can be found at www.veins.nu. As always, for information on your specific condition, ask your physician.