Varicose Veins | Fort Worth, TX
Varicose veins, those enlarged, curly purple veins on your legs are an unfortunate accompaniment of aging and of pregnancy. They sometimes are painful, but they always are unsightly. At Southwest Vein & Leg Center of Fort Worth, we have various treatments to get rid of your varicose veins.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Our arteries send oxygenated blood out from the heart throughout the body to the tissues. The veins are the return highways, carrying deoxygenated blood back to the heart. In the legs, the veins have a serious fight against gravity. Plus, standing increases pressure in the veins of our legs and feet.
As we age, our veins and surrounding tissues can weaken. This can allow blood to push out the vein walls and pool. This makes the veins curly and enlarged. Those close to the skin surface can even push up the skin, leaving a path not unlike a mole burrowing under a lawn.
In most cases, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic issue, making a person avoid wearing shorts or bathing suits to keep their varicose veins covered. Other people have painful varicose veins, and sometimes these can lead to more serious health issues.
What Causes Varicose Veins to Form?
In our legs and feet, our veins have an uphill battle. When we’re young, our muscles and surrounding support tissues help push the blood upward by squeezing the veins when we move our legs and feet. But as we age, these tissues weaken and don’t provide the same support.
The veins themselves are to blame, as well. The vein walls weaken with age; this allows blood to push the wall outward creating a meandering pattern in the vein. Also, the veins have valves throughout their length that are intended to prevent backflow. These can fail or become leaky. This also allows blood to pool and widen the veins.
Varicose veins are usually purple because the blood in the vein has no more oxygen. This contrasts to the bright crimson of oxygenated blood.
See What Our Patients Are Saying:
“This place goes above and beyond to make sure you are happy. They are always so nice when I call to schedule an appointment – all the way to the person who performs the laser treatments. They are professional and courteous. Way better than other vein clinics. And how could I forgot to mention the pricing, very reasonable!” -Nicole T.
How Do They Develop?
Aging and pregnancy are the two main culprits behind varicose veins.
- Aging – As we age, our vein walls lose some of their elasticity. This not only allows them to stretch, but it also means they won’t move the blood as effectively. Our muscles that help push the blood weaken, as well.
- Pregnancy – Some women develop varicose veins in pregnancy. This is because pregnancy increases the volume of blood in the body, but decreases the flow of blood from the legs to the pelvis. While this is good for the developing fetus, it’s bad for the appearance of the legs when varicose veins form. Varicose veins in pregnant women usually improve on their own from 3-12 months after delivery.
Other risk factors for varicose veins:
- Sex – Women are more likely to develop varicose veins due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, premenstruation, or menopause.
- Family History – There is a genetic factor to the development of varicose veins.
- Obesity – The added weight of obesity places more pressure on the veins in the legs and feet.
- Occupations – Jobs that require prolonged standing or sitting inhibit blood flow in the legs and feet, enabling varicose vein development.
What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Visual symptoms are pretty universal — varicose veins are dark purple or blue. They appear twisted and bulging, as if you have a purple cord on your leg. Not all varicose veins will cause pain, but they may. These are the symptoms of those cases:
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, and swelling in the legs
- Increased pain after sitting or standing for a long period
- Achy or heavy feeling in the legs
- Bleeding varicose veins
- Itching around a vein
- A raised, cordlike appearance that pushes the skin outward
- Hardening of the vein, color changes, skin ulceration near the ankle, which is a sign of a serious form of vascular disease
Actual Patient Review:
Are They Dangerous?
Most varicose veins are simply a cosmetic nuisance. They can often be improved with exercise, elevation of the legs, or wearing compression stockings. But sometimes complications can arise from varicose veins. They are rare, but require medical attention.
- Ulcers – Skin near varicose veins can form painful ulcers due to the long-term fluid buildup. This usually occurs near the ankles. A sign an ulcer is developing is a discolored spot on the skin.
- Blood clots – If there are signs of swelling in the legs, there could be a blood clot in a deep vein in the leg. This requires immediate medical attention.
- Bleeding – Varicose veins near the skin surface may burst. If this happens, medical attention is required.
How Are They Treated?
At Southwest Vein & Leg Center, our first treatment options for varicose veins are usually lifestyle changes: incorporating exercise, weight loss, elevating your legs whenever possible, avoiding long periods of sitting or standing, and the use of compression stockings.
If these treatments aren’t successful, these are our various varicose vein treatments. In most of these treatments, the varicose vein is closed off and left in the leg or foot. The body instantly re-routes the blood to healthier adjacent veins, and the body begins to absorb and dispose of the now-unused, closed-off vein. Total absorption of the vein may take a few weeks to a few months. These are the treatment options:
Sclerotherapy – Smaller varicose veins may be treated with sclerotherapy. The vein is injected with a sclerosant solution. This solution irritates the vein wall, causing the wall to collapse, closing off the vein. Sometimes veins may need more than one treatment.
Foam sclerotherapy – In foam sclerotherapy, gas is mixed with the sclerosant agent. The bubbles in the foam push the blood out of the way, making the sclerosant solution more efficient in reacting with the vein wall.
Laser Treatment – Lasers can be used on smaller varicose veins. The laser is set to the wavelength of the color of the vein. The laser energy is then directed onto the vein and the vein absorbs the energy. This instantly converts to heat and damages the vein wall, closing it off.
Endovenous laser ablation – This minimally invasive procedure inserts a catheter into the varicose vein. The catheter has a thin laser fiber and it is inserted using ultrasound guidance to the top of the vein. The laser fiber is then turned on and slowly pulled down the vein. The laser energy damages the vein, closing it off.
Vein stripping or ligation – Prior to catheters and laser options, ligation was the only treatment for large varicose veins. This is a surgical procedure where the vein is tied off and then removed in pieces through small incisions.
Endoscopic vein surgery – In cases with advanced leg ulcers, endoscopic vein surgery may be necessary. A tiny video camera is inserted into the leg to provide visual guidance, and then the varicose veins are closed and removed.
Is The Treatment Painful?
Local anesthetic is used in all of these procedures, so there isn’t any pain. Recovery is not difficult and any pain can usually be managed with over-the-counter options. Compression stockings will need to be worn after your treatment for at least one week.
Can I Drive After My Treatment?
With some of our varicose vein treatments, such as foam sclerotherapy, you can drive yourself home afterwards. With endovenous laser ablation you cannot. We will tell you what you will be able to do during your consultation.
Will Insurance Cover My Varicose Vein Treatment?
Most insurance companies will not cover varicose vein treatment done for cosmetic reasons. However, if the vein treatment is medically necessary, the procedure will usually be covered. You’ll need to check with your insurance provider.