Varicose veins are enlarged veins which are close to the skin’s surface. They are usually visible and can become painful particularly after prolonged standing or walking. Most commonly affected veins are those in the legs and feet due to the increased pressure, which affect valves in the veins, resulting in retrograde (downward) flow of the blood.
Downward direction of the blood flow (which is increased by the gravity) further damages valves, which fail to close properly, allowing pooling of the blood and stretching and thickening of the affected veins.
Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the problem and may include aching legs, ankle swelling, redness, dryness, itchiness of the affected area, cramps, skin discolouration, restless leg syndrome etc.
Conservative treatment includes regular rest in elevated position combined with gentle exercise, elastic stockings to support the weakened veins.
Radiofrequency vein ablation is minimally invasive interventional procedure that uses radiofrequency or laser to seal off varicose veins. Using ultrasound guidance a thin catheter is inserted through the skin into the vein (great saphenous vein).
When properly positioned, radiofrequency or laser energy is applied, heating up the vein and closing it off. Once the varicose vein is closed, other healthy veins will take over the function of that vein and establish normal blood flow.
Yes! Sclerotherapy is also an option for varicose veins. Lean more about sclerotherapy here.
Author: Dr John Vrazas