Varicose veins are sometimes seen as a purely cosmetic issue, especially if they are small. However, varicose veins are an indication of overall vein health. Even if they don’t produce symptoms, varicose veins increase the risk of several medical conditions – one is life-threatening. At Desert Vein Institute in Las Vegas, Nevada, we can assess your varicose veins and make recommendations for treatment such as laser therapy, ClosureFast and radiofrequency ablation.
Varicose Vein Basics
Varicose veins occur because the tiny flaps of tissue in the veins called valves stop functioning properly. This allows blood to pool in and distend the veins. Symptoms vary from one person to another – they may include pain, leg fatigue, swelling in the legs and ankles or other symptoms such as itching and burning. Varicose veins may occur in the superficial/visible veins as well as larger, deeper veins. In most cases, vein disease in the superficial veins also indicates vein disease in deep veins.
Complications of Varicose Veins
When blood pools in the vein, it no longer provides oxygen and nutrients to the cells. The increased pressure causes red blood cells and fluid to leak into tissue. The following conditions often occur with untreated varicose veins:
- • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – this condition is potentially life-threatening; blood clots form in the leg and are carried to the lung (pulmonary embolus).
- • Hyperpigmentation – red blood cells leaking into the tissue cause chronic inflammation and discolor the skin.
- • Lipodermosclerosis – chronic inflammation of the skin and fatty tissues under the skin result in a woody, firm area.
- • Spontaneous bleeding – skin over the varicose vein can become thinner and more susceptible to injury, leading to bleeding.
- • Superficial thrombophlebitis – a vein can become acutely inflamed, causing leg pain, swelling and heat in the affected area. This increases the rise of a pulmonary embolus.
- • Venous leg ulcers – this usually results from an injury; because of poor circulation, the ulcer won’t heal properly.
Varicose Vein Risks
Some people are more susceptible to varicose veins. Once they develop problems, a sub-group is also at higher risk for DVT. Obesity, hereditary factors and occupations in which people stand or sit for longer periods increase the risk of developing varicose veins. Recent surgery, blood clotting disorders, pregnancy, infection, prolonged immobility and a previous DVT increase the risk of DVT and pulmonary embolus.
At one time, surgery was the only option for vein treatment. Today, a vein specialist can offer a variety of minimally invasive treatments. ClosureFast uses heat from a catheter inserted into the vein, sealing it closed. VenaSeal is a similar treatment. Other options include laser vein treatment, radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy and microphlebectomy. All can be performed in a doctor’s office or vein center, require no or only local anesthesia and result in minimal down time.If you have varicose veins, whether they cause symptoms or not, you would benefit from an assessment at Desert Vein Institute in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dr. Craig L. Iwamoto can examine your vein health and make recommendations for vein treatment if it is necessary.