Why Treating Varicose Veins May Not Involve Surgery

Leg veins, like the entire human venous system, are important to overall health because they carry deoxygenated blood to the heart where it is pumped to the lungs and oxygenated. However, the process can break down if valves in veins fail to close properly. Faulty valves allow blood to collect in veins. Over time, they become larger and appear on the skin as ugly, bluish bulges. In severe cases the condition is also painful. At one time treating varicose veins always involved surgery. While some patients still need surgery, an out-patient procedure called sclerotherapy works well for many.

Patients Usually Need Medical Treatment

Although doctors are not sure why some people get varicose veins, they do know it is common among those who sit or stand for hours, are obese, or have a family history of the condition. Some people control or avoid varicose veins by getting enough exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and even wearing support stockings. However, severe cases that cause leg pain, rashes, or skin ulcers nearly always require a medical procedure.

An Outpatient Procedure Works for Many Patients

A procedure called sclerotherapy resolves varicose veins for many patients and can be done on an out-patient basis. A surgeon injects a chemical into veins, causing them to collapse. Patients’ legs are tightly bandaged afterward, but they are still able to walk within an hour. They continue to wear compression stockings and get regular exercise, to reduce swelling.

Some Patients Require Surgery

Severe varicose veins may require surgery and brief hospitalization. In this procedure the surgeon identifies and removes the veins. Patients’ legs are then bandaged and they are encouraged to walk around. They are given pain medication and generally stay in the hospital for one or two days. Most patients are out of work for a week or two, but the procedure completely reverses the condition for 80% of them.

The unsightly, bulging veins that appear on many people’s legs are called varicose veins and can get worse without treatment. A medical procedure is usually required to relieve symptoms like leg pain, rashes, and discoloration. Some patients are good candidates for an outpatient procedure while others need varicose vein surgery.

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