Varicose veins, although not a serious health risk, can be embarrassing and unsightly for many men and women. The enlarged red or blue veins appear on thighs, calves, or face, and can make those who suffer feel self-conscious, especially when he or she takes a trip to the beach or camping! Fortunately, there are many treatment options that are safe and minimally invasive. Here are the top three treatments for varicose veins. Which one is right for you?
Laser Surgery – Laser surgery is similar to sclerotherapy in that the goal of the procedure is to cause damage to the varicose vein so it will form scar tissue and close. A simple laser treatment is usually an outpatient procedure. Physicians direct a laser onto the vein; the heat damages the vein, leading to scar tissue. Laser surgery is often used in conjunction with other types of varicose vein treatments.
Is it for you? Simple laser surgery is non-invasive and works best with small varicose veins. The treatments take longer – often 6 to 12 sessions total – and take longer to fully disappear (up to a year in some cases.) The bonus of simple laser surgery is that the down time after treatment is minimal; most patients return to their daily routine immediately after treatment.
Sclerotherapy – In this type of varicose vein treatment, physicians inject a special solution directly into the vein, causing it to scar and collapse. Blood that normally would go through these veins are redirected into other veins, and the unsightly, dark vein disappears within a few weeks through reabsorption into the tissue surrounding it. The procedure is relatively painless (except for the sting of a small needle) and can be done in a comfortable office setting. Full results can be seen in three to six weeks, although it may take several months for large veins to disappear completely.
Is it for you? Sclerotherapy is typically used on small spider veins that appear in legs or arms, and for cosmetic reasons. The outpatient procedure is very safe, and is the treatment of choice for small varicose veins. Some of the side effects are mild inflammation, air bubbles, darkened skin or bruising, and small skin sores. Your doctor will ask you to wear compression stockings for about three weeks after the treatment, avoid sun exposure and halt strenuous exercise for a few weeks after.
Endovenous Ablation – This procedure, although minimally invasive, is a bit more complicated than the first two varicose vein treatments on our list. Endovenous ablation basically closes a large, long varicose vein by using heat energy to seal it shut from the inside. Local anesthesia is administered, and then a thin catheter is inserted in an entry point (usually close to the knee.) Lasers or radio frequency energy is administered to the vein to seal it shut.
Is it for you? Of the procedures to get rid of varicose veins, endovenous ablation is perhaps the most complicated and has the most down time and complications. The procedure is outpatient, but patients must wear compression stockings for about a week after the procedure. Pain and bruising are common, but can be treated with over-the-counter non-aspirin pain relievers. Walking is encouraged, but strenuous exercise (like running or cardiovascular workouts) are discouraged for a few weeks after. Only one large vein can be treated at a time, so for numerous large veins, subsequent treatments are necessary.
Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She's also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. Amanda loves healthy living, coffee, fashion, Twitter, makeup, nail polish, and cats (not always in that order.) Her work has been published on family.com and blogher.com. For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda's blog, It's Blogworthy (http://itsblogworthy.com) or follow her on Twitter and Google+.