Veins carry blood from different parts of the body to the heart. Veins have valves inside them that restrict the flow of blood in only one direction. When these valves get damaged for any reason, the blood will not be able to flow to the heart and gets blocked there, causing enlargement of veins.
The condition of veins enlargement due to the blockage of blood is called varicose veins. The area may look purple in color due to the spreading of blood to nearby tissues. Enlargement of veins under the skin is also seen in most people. The first line of treatment for varicose veins is to change the lifestyle habits that might be causing the problem and wearing tight stockings as advised by your doctor. If there is severe pain, skin problems, and blood clots in the body, your vascular surgeon may recommend surgery.
Factors that decide the type of treatment for varicose veins symptoms
- Your age and overall health.
- Your lifestyle including your workout routine, smoking and alcohol drinking habits.
- The location of varicose veins and the symptoms
- Whether you are getting a medical condition addressed or you want to just cover up the superficial varicose veins
- The expertise of your doctor in treating varicose veins – helps him/her determine the right procedure for you.
Treatment of varicose veins in few sentences
The aim of any treatment method of varicose veins is to block the vein that is damaged and reroute the blood through other veins. The damaged vein is either blocked somehow or it is removed. Now let’s look at various methods how this is achieved.
- Sclerotherapy: A solution is injected into the vein that has damaged valves. This scars the vein and blocks the flow of blood through it. As a result, blood finds alternative routes to reach the heart. This is an out-patient (day care) procedure done at doctor’s office/clinic and doesn’t require any hospitalization. You will have to see your doctor multiple times with a gap of 4 to 6 weeks to complete the treatment sessions. Post that, you will be required to wear compression stockings for few weeks after each session.
Micro-sclerotherapy is the very same procedure with the only difference being, a smaller needle will be used to inject the solution to block the vein(s).
- Laser therapy for treatment of varicose veins’ symptoms: Veins are closed with the energy from laser. Small bursts of laser light are focused on the damaged veins that will cause them to close. The benefit of laser treatment for varicose veins is that, there is no pricking or cutting/incision involved in this treatment. Most often laser treatment is done for smaller varicose veins.
- Endovenous Ablation Therapy: In this treatment method, you will first be given local anesthesia. A small incision will be made in a place through which a thin tube will be inserted into your body. The tube emits radio waves or laser (energy of some kind) that will close the vein. Later the area will be wrapped in bandage and then you will be allowed to go home after a couple of hours.
- Endoscopic Vein Surgery: A small incision is made through which a thin tube with camera at it’s end is inserted into the vein. Once the end of the vein is reached, your doctor shuts it off (closes the vein). This procedure is typically done when there are skin ulcers caused due to varicose veins. Recovery takes about 10 to 14 days after which you will be able to return to your normal life activities.
Now, let’s look at some procedures in which the damaged vein is removed surgically.
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy: This procedure is done when the vein is closer to the skin surface. Local anesthesia is given and after the area goes numb, a small incision/cut is made and the vein is removed. This is a day care / out-patient procedure, after which you will be able to go home.
- Vein Stripping and Ligation: This is a little more complex procedure done in serious cases. Full body anesthesia is given before the procedure. Incisions will be made on the skin, veins will be tied and removed. If possible, a vein called Saphenous vein (a long vein that exists from ankle to the groin) will be left in place just in case, if you may end up going for a heart bypass in the future.
This procedure may require hospitalization for a day or two after which you will be allowed to go home. Recovery time is typically 4 weeks.
Post operative expectations after varicocele vein treatment
Just like any surgery, bruising, inflammation may be seen in the area of surgery. Recovery will be normal unless if the veins are removed. Complications of the surgery include blood clots, pain, infection, and scarring at the surgical site.
You will need to follow your doctor’s advice including taking medication, wearing stockings or bandages for a couple of weeks. Once recovered, you will need to take care of yourself with a healthy lifestyle including regular workouts, eating healthy. With respect to legs, you will need to raise your feet while sitting, make sure you don’t cross your legs, or wear tight clothes that can affect the blood flow.
If you see any unusual complications (other than what your doctor has mentioned during discharge), you should contact your vascular surgeon immediately.