If you’re suffering from varicose veins, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that 23% of the adult population in the USA have the condition, which is also more common in women than men. Unfortunately, the chances of developing varicose veins increases with age, and heredity is also thought to play a major role in their development.
Before the advancement of modern vein treatments, the only treatment options were invasive surgery or compression therapy. While compression therapy is still in use today, the good news is that patients no longer have to go under the knife and endure painful surgery and weeks of recovery to remove the swollen veins. Instead, this dated treatment has been replaced with minimally invasive pain-free treatments that typically take place in an out-patient setting. But before we discuss the top vein treatments available let’s take a closer look at the definition of varicose veins and how they differ from spider veins.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins can appear anywhere on the body although it’s more common to find them in the legs. They have a bulging twisted appearance which is both unsightly and can cause discomfort. While varicose veins are a medical condition, they’re not regarded as dangerous, although in some cases, they can lead to serious problems if they’re ignored.
While in years gone by, varicose veins were considered a ‘cosmetic issue’ or something to expect with age, general practitioners soon came to the realisation that these veins were in fact a medical condition that required specialist care. Hence, the reason that some vein treatments are covered by insurance and why patients can be referred by their primary care doctor to board-certified vein doctors like Dr Akinwande, here at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Treatment (MINT).
What are spider veins?
Unlike prominent varicose veins which are raised swollen blood vessels, spider veins are smaller, superficial blood vessels located just under the skin. They typically look like a spider’s web and generally do not cause any discomfort. Because they are considered a cosmetic issue rather than a medical condition, they’re rarely covered by insurance plans.
Both spider and varicose veins occur when the walls of the veins and the inner valves weaken and malfunction, causing the blood to pool which places the veins under additional pressure. As a result, the affected veins become enlarged and more prominent. Both types of veins are extremely common and while some people may have one or the other, others can have spider veins and varicose veins.
When to seek medical treatment for veins
While many varicose veins don’t cause any problems, it’s important to know if they are a threat to your health. On occasions, not getting vein treatment can lead to more serious conditions.
If you experience any of the symptoms below, you should schedule a vein screening with MINT. The earlier you seek help, the higher the chance of successful treatment. So call our office today for available consultation slots.
Early warning signs and common symptoms of spider and varicose veins
- Swelling in the legs, feet and ankles
- Continuous, severe leg pain
- Dull ache or heavy feeling in the legs that regularly occurs
- Varicose veins are painful and red in colour or they can feel warm
- Itchy and inflamed skin around the veins
- Spontaneous bleeding from the veins
- An open skin wound or ulcer that has developed on its own
Top 4 Vein Treatments at MINT
The best vein treatment for you is likely to depend on whether you have spider veins, varicose veins, or both. Certain health conditions, allergies or other risk factors will be discussed with one of our doctors.
To give you a better understanding of your options we’ve listed the 4 primary vein treatments we perform at MINT together with their pros and cons.
Also known as laser or radiofrequency vein treatment, this cost-effective FDA-approved treatment is rapidly replacing conventional open vein surgery. Guided by ultrasound, a thin laser fiber is threaded via a small catheter into the problem vein where the energy is applied to seal and close it. Over time, the closed vein withers and disappears. Closure of the vein causes the blood to redirect through a healthy vein and should relieve any painful symptoms. At MINT we provide twilight sedation to help patients feel comfortable throughout the procedure.
- High success rate
- Treatment takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete
- Minimal downtime – patients usually return to work the following day
- Safe for all skin types
- Low recurrence rate
- Not suitable for smaller superficial veins
- Mild bruising may occur along the length of the treated vein
- Avoid vigorous activities for a week
Sclerotherapy is one of the best treatments for spider veins but can also be used for varicose veins. The treatment involves the injection of a chemical solution into the vein. This causes the walls to swell and stick together, closing and stopping the flow of blood. Consequently, the vein shrinks away within a few weeks. The number of injections a patient needs depends on the location and size of their veins. Patients will need to wear bandages or compression stockings for a couple of weeks following treatment but can return to normal activities the same day.
- Minimal discomfort or pain
- Fast treatment (approximately 15 minutes)
- No restrictions on activities following treatment
- Minimal swelling or bruising
- Safe for all skin types
- Ability to treat spider veins that are too large for laser treatment
- Can take up to six months before patients see full results
- Multiple treatments may be necessary for optimal results
- May not be suitable for dark skin
- Temporary itching, redness or burning in treatment area
VenaSeal is a process of closing problematic veins with glue. The glue seals the vein walls, stopping and redirecting blood flow to healthy veins. Ultrasound is used to map the treatment and guide the procedure while a catheter is used to apply the glue.
- One local anesthetic and one needle prick to access the veins with a catheter
- No discomfort because unlike other vein treatments, glue is used so there is no heat or burning from lasers or heat
- No down time
- No compression socks necessary
- A newer procedure than Sclerotherapy but is proving very effective
- Possible allergic reaction to the glue
- Not suitable for all types of veins
This treatment is used for spider veins and involves the doctor making several tiny incisions to access the veins, disrupt blood flow and remove small segments of the vein with a surgical hook under a local anesthetic.
- Vein removal without surgery ort hospitalization
- Minimal recovery time
- Pain-free and minimally invasive
- Incisions typically heal within 2 weeks
- Could result in minimal scarring
- Bruising around treatment area
- Mild swelling and pain
The above are just four of our most requested minimally invasive procedures. We also provide treatment for venous ulcers and embolization therapy to treat Pelvic Congestion Syndrome.
If you have spider veins, varicose veins or another vein disease, get in touch with MINT today and let us help you decide which treatment option is best for you. We have 5 covenient locations for patients to choose from, including Chicago, IL.
Photo Attribution: Freepik