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Varicose veins - Treatment
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Varicose veins

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Cardiovascular System



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:

  • Sclerotherapy. 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.

  • Laser surgeries. 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.

  • Catheter-assisted procedures. 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.

  • Vein stripping. 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.

  • Ambulatory 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.

  • Endoscopic vein surgery. 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:

  • Exercise. 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.

  • Control your weight. Shedding excess pounds takes unnecessary pressure off your veins.

  • Watch what you wear. 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 circulation.

  • Elevate your legs. 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.

  • Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. Make a point of changing your position frequently to encourage blood flow.

  • Don't sit with your legs crossed. This position can aggravate circulatory problems.


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