Misperception Blog Series: Varicose Veins are the Only Treatable Manifestation of Venous Insufficiency
In this installment of the Misperception Blog Series, John D. Horowitz, MD, FACS, addresses the fallacy that varicose veins are the only treatable manifestation of venous insufficiency. The condition, also known as chronic venous insufficiency or chronic venous stasis, occurs when there is a problem within the venous system regarding the return flow of blood to the heart. Dr. Horowitz, founder and head of Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center and one of the best vascular surgeons in Orlando, explains that symptomatic venous insufficiency can appear in a multitude of forms.
While painful varicose veins is the most obvious, lower extremity swelling (edema), fatigue, sensations of throbbing or heaviness in the legs, cramping in the lower extremities, generalized aching or pain, which may worsen when you stand and improve when you raise your legs, weakness in the legs, tightness in the calves, skin color, particularly in the ankles, and quality changes, itchiness or skin irritation, ulceration, and restless leg syndrome are all commonly associated with venous insufficiency.
Of course, all of these symptoms can be alleviated to varying degrees given the appropriate treatment of the venous reflux that is causing them in these patients. After undergoing treatment, patients will see significant improvement both in their symptoms and their quality of life.
A vein specialist may suggest various self-care techniques for cases that are milder, including the wearing of compression stockings to decrease any swelling. Additionally, he or she may recommend that you do not sit or stand for long periods, if at all possible. This is because movement helps the blood’s flow. Furthermore, your physician may advise you to lose weight, as the extra pounds put more stress on veins that already are experiencing a diminished ability to do their job adequately.
Another option is swimming pool therapy, especially in warmer weather, which helps to promote venous return by doing raises or walking in the shallow end of the pool. This promotes vasoconstriction to counterbalance the vasodilation from the Florida heat and also counterbalances the gravity’s effect of body weight.
For more severe varicose vein conditions, there are several treatment options, including sclerotherapy, in which a concentrated saline solution, or other solution, is injected into the varicose vein, which then hardens, seals shut, and is, ultimately, absorbed into the body.
Another treatment option is ablation, a process in which thermal energy is utilized to close off and destroy the varicose vein. With endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), a Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center specialty, the laser, guided by an ultrasound machine, allows for the application of heat with pinpoint accuracy. This treatment, like sclerotherapy, is minimally invasive and virtually painless.
Both sclerotherapy and EVLT can be performed on an outpatient basis with the patient able to walk immediately afterward and returning to normal daily activities the following day.
It certainly is a shame that in too many cases the misconceptions concerning varicose vein care are held by patients and medical professionals alike, preventing millions of patients from seeking care or being referred for care, and causing a great deal of unnecessary suffering.
Technological advances have allowed minimally invasive vein therapies to flourish. So, if you are suffering from symptoms of venous insufficiency, contact Dr. Horowitz, one of the best vascular surgeons in Orlando, today. You can call us at 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547.