Have you ever experienced bulging veins in your legs (not varicose)? Veins and Arteries carry blood to and from the heart in the human body. The deoxygenated blood moves back to the heart through veins. Veins have valves that help in moving blood from different parts of the body to the heart. Sometimes, the valves inside the veins malfunction, and instead of sending the blood back to the heart, they push back the blood in the reverse direction. This results in the bulging of the veins that receive the blood flow in reverse. This phenomenon is called ‘Venous Reflux’.
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During the treatment of varicose veins, the veins that have malfunctioning valves are disconnected and the veins are ablated (closed) so that the blood does not flow through the malfunctioning valves and reach the heart through other vein pathways. Most commonly, varicose veins occur in the legs.
What causes recurrence of varicose veins?
If the treatment was not done completely
Surgical treatment of varicose veins involves cutting off the blood flow to the damaged veins and providing an alternative route. When the damaged veins stop receiving blood back from malfunctioning valves, it shrinks and disappears eventually. In some cases, the damaged veins may be removed completely.
When treating varicose veins, the treatment has to be extensive. That is, all the malfunctioning valves and veins must be treated. This can happen in multiple sessions. But, if the doctor happens to leave/miss any of the damaged valves and veins without correcting them, varicose veins will come back for obvious reasons. A duplex ultrasound test will be done to identify all the veins through which the blood is flowing in the legs.
Venous insufficiency, a long term progressive condition
Some patients may have varicose veins through the genes that run in the family. In such cases, varicose veins may only represent the initial phase of venous insufficiency, a long-term progressive condition for which there is no complete cure. An expert doctor can make up a treatment plan to treat the symptoms of the problem and also plan to reduce the recurrence of varicose veins.
Deep vein thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is an obstructive disease. People suffering from deep vein thrombosis can expect varicose veins to return even after successful treatment. Such people must be in constant contact with their vascular disease specialist for further courses of action/treatment.
Pregnancy and being overweight
Even if you are successfully treated, varicose veins can return if you do not maintain healthy weight or become pregnant. You will need to be in touch with your vascular surgeon and/or gynecologist and take constant advice to prevent recurrence. Maintaining healthy weight is also very important. You will be advised to start working out at least 30 minutes every day.
Recurrence of varicose veins also depends on the way the body heals
After surgery, the body tries to heal itself. In this process, new veins may form or the closed veins may open up. When the new veins are formed and if they are connected to the malfunctioning valves, the bulging of veins can happen again. Similarly, if the closed veins are reopened, the blood flows back into them and results in bulging.
Treatment of (recurring) varicose veins
Many doctors and patients prefer minimally invasive procedures to treat varicose veins. They include:
- Laser therapy – an energy beam using laser is focused on the defective veins which will make them fade and go away.
- Sclerotherapy – A chemical is injected into small and medium-sized varicose veins which will make them collapse and go away eventually.
- RF ablation (Radio Frequency Ablation) – Uses high-frequency radio waves that seal and shut off the varicose veins.
- Phlebectomy or ‘vein stripping’ – As the name suggests, this procedure involves removing the vein. This can be combined with other procedures depending on the case and the doctor’s decision. This surgery may be performed as an outpatient procedure.
How can you prevent varicose veins from recurring?
You will need to go to an expert vascular surgeon for treating your varicose veins. An inexperienced or incompetent specialist may leave out (unknowingly) some of the malfunctioning valves and veins that can result in recurrence of varicose veins.
Laser Vein Clinic, Chennai, hosts highly specialized and experienced vascular surgeons who can take care of every minute detail during the treatment of varicose veins. Typical recurrence of varicose veins in patients is around 3 – 5 years and in some cases, it may be even 8 years. Our expert doctors are always approachable post treatment for any medical advice and can help you in preventing or postponing the recurrence of varicose veins.