Vein Care - Varicose Veins

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It is estimated that over 80 million people suffer from venous disease in the United States alone, and that 4.6 million work days are lost each year. So this is obviously not just a cosmetic issue. Typical symptoms include aching legs especially after long periods of standing, leg swelling, restless legs, and occasionally cramping. Symptoms usually improve with leg elevation and may improve with walking or exercise. Visible signs may include bulging veins, unsightly spider veins, skin discoloration, or even ulceration.

Why do some people develop varicose veins and others do not?  Good question.  The most common cause of venous problems is heredity.  If one of your parents or grandparents suffered with this problem, there is a better than even chance that you will also. Other contributing factors include prior deep or superficial vein clots, multiple pregnancies, obesity, occupations requiring prolonged standing on hard surfaces, and the wearing of high heeled shoes. Quite often the underlying cause is the poor function of valves inside the vein. When functioning properly these small valves should allow blood to flow up toward your heart, but not in the opposite direction toward your feet. This causes increased pressure in the veins of your legs which in turn results in the symptoms as well as the physical findings.

How do we fix the problem?  Good support stockings of at least 20-30mmHg will certainly help with symptoms, but they are not always comfortable and practical to wear and do nothing to treat the underlying problem. The goal of effective therapy is to correct the elevated venous pressures or (venous hypertension).  That’s where ablation comes in using chemicals, laser, or radiofrequency. In this country, laser and radiofrequency are the most popular methods. In our vein center, we offer all three modalities but prefer either laser or radiofrequency. The procedure is done in the office under minimal sedation (you will be awake or may dose off briefly) along with local anesthetic. Most procedures last around an hour and you can usually expect to return to work the next day. You are asked to remove your bandage and ace wrap 48 hours after the procedure and then wear your stockings during the day for 2 weeks. We ask that you avoid strenuous exercise and hot tubs for an additional 2 weeks. You will be given a prescription for an anti-inflammatory agent to take for 10 days post procedure.  Any additional discomfort can be managed with only Ibuprofen.

Your initial office visit will include an interview and physical exam followed by an ultrasound examination of your lower extremities. The development of ultrasound techniques to evaluate leg veins has made the science of treating venous disease what it is today. After the ultrasound exam a recommendation will be made as to the best way to treat your individual problem based on the ultrasound findings. All procedures as well as physical and ultrasound exams are performed by Dr. Barr.