Misperception Blog Series: Vein Therapy Is for Older Patients Only
Did you know that people of any age can suffer from venous insufficiency and varicose veins? If you didn’t, you’re not alone; there is a widespread misperception that vein therapy is for young patients only. Thankfully, John D. Horowitz, MD, FACS – one of the top vascular doctors in Orlando and founder of the Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center – is ready to set the record straight in the latest in our Misperception Blog Series: Vein Therapy Is for Older Patients Only.
First off, let’s be clear that vein therapy is not for older patients only. Read on to find out why.
Is Vein Care a Serious Issue?
Dr. Horowitz says that millions of Americans have been told by their well-meaning physicians that their venous insufficiency is not a significant issue and that they should just live with the problem or wear compression stockings for the foreseeable future. Most likely, this regrettable advice was based on the fact that for years the only treatment available involved surgical scalpels and general anesthesia. There were inherent risks with both, and the outcomes were sometimes not very good.
But today, the truth is that modern vein therapy has made the almost barbaric “stripping and ligation” vascular surgery technique a thing of the past. In its place are innovative and minimally-invasive procedures. The difference is that instead of approaching the leg with a scalpel in hand, vascular surgeons now use tiny needles, guided by ultrasound machines for accuracy, to reach the varicose veins through percutaneous access. That means better results, fewer negative outcomes, fast recovery times, and impressive cosmetic outcomes. What’s more, these new techniques can be performed in an outpatient setting, using only local anesthesia and oral sedation.
Why Younger People – and Even Athletes – Can Be at Risk
Of course, more advanced age certainly is a factor that can increase the risk of developing varicose veins. As with all our bodily systems as we age, our veins and their valves just don’t perform as well as they once did. So what happens when a vein isn’t doing as good a job as it should? The vein’s valves start to let blood flow backward. But despite the dangers for our older population, people of all ages actually can develop varicose veins.
And did you know that even if you are an otherwise healthy young person who stays in shape and does indeed exercise regularly, you still can get varicose veins? Even world-class athletes can get varicose veins. Oftentimes, varicose veins develop in athletes who put heavy strains on their legs for long periods, such as weightlifters, skiers, and backpackers, for example. Another group of athletes who may suffer from varicose veins are those that perform repetitive motions with their legs for extended periods, such as tennis players, cyclists, and runners, especially marathoners and iron man participants. But remember that even the occasional athlete can develop varicose veins from moderate participation in these activities.
Another younger age group at risk for varicose veins is pregnant women. Pregnancy means varicose veins can pop up suddenly, and, already existing varicose veins, can worsen. This is because of the hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, especially the increase in progesterone. These hormonal changes make the blood vessel walls relax as well as cause an increase in total blood volume. And, of course, the weight of the baby causes greater stress on the legs. But keep in mind this Bonus Misperception: A woman should wait until after her childbearing years to treat her varicose veins. Well, that’s just not true, and it’s not good advice. Be sure to seek treatment for varicose veins whenever they are discovered, preferably before pregnancy if possible.
Older People Shouldn’t Have to Put up with Venous Insufficiency
While it is important to let people know that varicose veins are not solely the domain of the elderly, it is important to say a few words concerning the condition in seniors. For any patient of any age, it is a basic human right to have a quality of life that is as high as possible. No one should ever be told that they must put up with varicose veins simply because they come with the territory, so to speak. There are many high-quality vascular treatments that can bring relief of varicose vein symptoms and, therefore, raise the older patient’s quality of life to where it should be. The following are two simple and minimally-invasive varicose vein procedures that can alleviate symptoms while causing virtually no downtime:
- EVLT (Endovenous Laser Treatment) is a minimally-invasive alternative that uses an ultrasound to pinpoint exactly where to place a small catheter. Heat is then transferred through the tip of the tube, which collapses and seals off the vein. Blood is automatically redistributed through other veins. EVLT is normally performed on an outpatient basis with the patient only under local anesthesia. After the procedure, the patient wears a compression stocking for a week or two but is able to walk immediately and typically can resume normal activities the next day.
- UGS (Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy) is another minimally-invasive procedure. UGS also uses ultrasound technology for precision, in this case, to guide a tiny needle to the varicose vein. A foam sclerosant solution is injected, creating a chemical reaction and causing the vein to painlessly collapse and seal off, with the rest of the patient’s body unaffected. Again, blood is automatically redistributed. Typically, it takes two or three such treatments to eliminate the varicose vein and the result is cosmetically superb. As with EVLT, there is very little down time.
Visit the Vein Experts
Because these minimally-invasive procedures are performed in our office rather than a hospital, they are perfect for anyone of any age suffering from varicose veins. So no matter what your age, if you are dealing with varicose veins, contact vascular doctor in Orlando, Dr. Horowitz at the Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center, to set up a consultation to determine which varicose vein treatment is right for you. You’ll be glad you did.