Fortunately, treatment usually doesn't mean a hospital stay or a long,
uncomfortable recovery. Less invasive techniques generally allow
varicose veins to be dealt with on an outpatient basis. Self-help
measures — such as exercising, losing weight, not wearing tight clothes,
elevating your legs and avoiding long periods of standing or sitting —
can ease pain and prevent varicose veins from getting worse. Varicose
veins that develop during pregnancy generally improve without medical
treatment within three months after delivery.
If your varicose veins don't respond to self-help or if they're more
severe, your doctor may advise one of these treatments:
In this procedure, your doctor injects small- and medium-sized
varicose veins with a solution that scars those veins. The process
closes the veins, forcing your blood to reroute to healthier veins.
In a few weeks, treated varicose veins should fade. Although the
same vein may need to be injected more than once, sclerotherapy is
effective if done correctly. In addition, a new and improved type of
sclerotherapy, called microsclerotherapy, uses improved solutions
and injection techniques that increase the success rate for removal
of spider veins. Sclerotherapy doesn't require anesthesia and can be
done in your doctor's office.
Doctors are using laser procedures more commonly to close off
smaller varicose veins and spider veins, especially on the upper
body and the face. In the past, varicose veins in the legs didn't
respond consistently to laser treatments, and some doctors doubted
whether laser surgery actually worked. Now, however, new technology
in laser treatments can effectively treat varicose veins in the
legs. Laser surgery works by sending strong bursts of light onto the
vein that makes the vein slowly fade and disappear. No incisions or
needles are used.
This is one of the newer treatments for varicose veins. The doctor
inserts a thin tube (catheter) into an enlarged vein and heats the
tip of the catheter. As the catheter is pulled out, the heat
destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut. This
procedure is usually done for larger varicose veins. Other
catheter-assisted methods use a blade to destroy varicose veins or
radio waves to close them.
This procedure involves removing a long vein through small
incisions. This is an outpatient procedure for most people. Usually,
you're able to resume normal activities in two weeks or less.
Removing the vein won't affect circulation in your leg because veins
deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood.
phlebectomy. Your doctor removes smaller varicose veins
through a series of tiny skin punctures. Local anesthesia alone is
used in this outpatient procedure. Scarring is generally minimal.
You might need this operation only in an advanced case involving leg
ulcers. Your surgeon uses a thin video camera inserted in your leg
to visualize and close veins. Only small incisions are needed.
Current treatments for varicose veins and spider veins are highly
successful. However, it's possible that varicose veins can recur.
There's no way to always prevent varicose veins. But improving your
circulation and muscle tone can reduce the risk of developing varicose
veins or getting additional ones. To improve circulation and muscle
tone, follow these tips:
Get your legs moving. Walking is a great way to encourage blood
circulation in your legs. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate
activity level for you.
Shedding excess pounds takes unnecessary pressure off your veins.
Watch what you
Avoid high heels. Low-heeled shoes work calf muscles more, which is
better for your veins. Don't wear tight clothes around your calves
or groin. Tight panty-leg girdles, for instance, can restrict
To improve circulation, take three or four 10- to 15-minute breaks
daily to elevate your legs above the level of your heart. For
example, lie down with your legs resting on three or four pillows.
periods of sitting or standing.
Make a point of changing your position frequently to encourage blood
Don't sit with
your legs crossed.
This position can aggravate circulatory problems.
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