Varicose Veins—Not Just a Cosmetic Problem

Varicose Veins—Not Just a Cosmetic Problem

By Dr. David Lawrence, FACS, Linn County LIVING WELL Magazine

Varicose veins are a frequent and distressing problem that affects millions of people each year. However, these bulging and unsightly veins are more than just a cosmetic problem. Varicose veins can cause a variety of symptoms such as pain, fatigue, aching, itching, burning, and heaviness. In more advanced cases, pigmentation of the skin, infection, inflammation, ulcers, and even bleeding can occur. Many people experience these symptoms daily but are unaware that they are caused by varicose veins and a vein disorder called venous insufficiency. Vascular surgeons at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa are now helping patients understand this condition and their treatment options.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

Veins carry blood back toward the heart. Unlike arteries, veins are soft and compressible. Varicose veins occur when the valves that carry blood from the legs toward the heart no longer function properly. When these valves leak, the blood begins to pool in the lower portion of the leg. The pressure within the veins increase and over time the normally small and inconspicuous vein branches enlarge to form bulging varicosities that can look like large twisted cords. If left untreated, deep, non-healing ulcers can form as the increased pressure in the veins breaks down the overlying skin.

Minimally Invasive Treatment

In the past, varicose veins have been treated with vein stripping—a surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia and is performed at an outpatient surgery center or hospital. Stripping can often be painful and recovery afterward is regularly associated with significant bruising throughout the entire leg.

Today, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa vascular surgeons use a technique called VenefitTM Targeted Endovenous Therapy for the treatment of venous insufficiency. This minimally invasive procedure uses radiofrequency energy to provide an even and uniform heat to contract the collagen in the vein walls, causing them to collapse and seal. Once a leg vein is closed, blood flow is redirected to healthy veins.

The VenefitTM procedure is easily performed right in the office with minimal discomfort. Most patients notice a significant improvement in their symptoms within two to three days and full recovery within one week.

In about one third of patients, painful varicose veins can persist despite a successful VenefitTM procedure. These varicose veins can either be treated with sclerotheraphy (injections of concentrated salt solution) or removed entirely through tiny incisions. Many people also have small spider veins called telangiectasias. These are generally not painful, but also can be easily treated in the doctor’s office. Overall success is obtained in 95-98% of patients.

Is it Right for Me?

If you suffer from any of the symptoms described, or think that you may have a problem with venous insufficiency or varicose veins, don’t wait for the problem to grow. Ask your primary care physician about seeing one of the board certified vascular surgeons at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa. You can also call Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa directly and ask to see a vein specialist about the VenefitTM procedure. They can schedule a screening consultation to help determine what treatment option is right for you. In many cases, the VenefitTM procedure is covered by private insurance carriers and Medicare. Call today for an appointment.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 319-362-5118 or visit Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa—Surgical Specialists is located at 830 4th Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids.