Vein Disease: It Is Time to Listen to Your Legs

By Domenic A. Zambuto, MD
Vein Clinics of America

Vein disease is more common than you may think. More than half of all women will develop varicose vein disease over the course of their lifetime. Varicose veins occur when some of the deeper surface veins of the leg no longer function properly. There are many possible reasons for why this happens, but defective or damaged valves within the veins carry much of the blame. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding vein disease and available treatment options.

Who Develops Varicose Veins?

You have a higher risk of developing varicose veins if you have family members with the condition, are female (women are 2.5 times more likely than men to have vein disease), are over 30 years of age, or have a job that requires you to sit or stand for long periods of time. The leading risk factor for varicose veins is family history. If one of your parents has varicose veins, you have a nearly 50 percent chance of developing them. If both of your parents are afflicted, your chance rises to more than 90 percent.1

What Are The Visual Signs Of Varicose Or Spider Veins?

Visual signs include veins that are dark purple or blue in color, veins that appear twisted and bulging, and thin, threadlike veins that lie close to the surface of the skin.

What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Vein Disease?

Signs and symptoms include cramping, pain, fatigue, restlessness, heaviness, swelling, itching, and throbbing. Varicose veins can cause mild to moderate pain, leg swelling, skin rashes, blood clots, skin ulcers (sores), and other problems. They can also lead to more-serious vein conditions if left untreated.

How Is Vein Disease Treated?

At Vein Clinics of America, we use sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment (ELT) as minimally invasive treatment options. In sclerotherapy, problematic veins are treated by injecting a solution called a sclerosant, which seals off the unhealthy part of the vein, allowing the body to naturally redirect blood flow to healthy veins. With ELT the physician inserts a small optical fiber into a varicose vein using ultrasound guidance. The optical fiber carries energy from the laser that heats and closes the vein, thus redirecting the blood to other, healthy veins. The entire procedure takes an hour or less, and patients report little or no pain.

How Effective Is Treatment?

It is very unlikely that the veins that we treat will come back (our published recurrence rate of varicose vein treatment is less than 2 percent), but new ones can develop. Physicians at Vein Clinics of America have a follow-up program that is designed to prevent varicose veins from becoming re-established.2

Why Is Surgery Not A Good Idea?

The documented failure rate for surgery is 25 to 43 percent in one to five years. Venous disorders, including varicose veins, are a chronic problem. This means that, with time, new vein trouble will likely develop somewhere else in the leg. Repeated surgery is not an acceptable solution for a recurrent problem.3

Is Vein Treatment Covered By Insurance?

Because varicose vein treatment is considered a medical procedure, in most cases it may be covered by insurance. Vein Clinics of America is in the network of most major insurance plans.

Is It All Right To Postpone Vein Treatment Or Just Have Small Veins Treated?

Varicose and spider veins are progressive. They may continue to get worse if left untreated. To prevent more-extensive treatment in the future, it is best to seek treatment when you first spot signs of this condition. It is also important to treat not only the surface spider veins but also the feeder veins that actually cause them. Treating the feeder veins treats the source of the problem, lessening the chance of recurrence.

Domenic A. Zambuto, MD, is a board-certified interventional radiologist and phlebologist. He is highly skilled in treating venous disease utilizing minimally invasive procedures performed with image-guided techniques. Dr. Zambuto received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He completed both his residency in diagnostic radiology and a fellowship in vascular interventional radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a member of the Society of Interventional Radiology, American College of Phlebology, American College of Radiology, and American Roentgen Ray Society. He is board certified in phlebology and radiology with a certificate of added qualification in vascular and interventional radiology.

For more information visit veinclinics.com or call (844) 251-VEIN [8346].

References

  1. Cornu-Thenard, A. Importance of the familial factor in vari­cose disease. Clinical study of 134 families. Journal of Dermato­logical Surgery and Oncology. 1994;20(5):318-26.
  2. King T, Coulomb G, Goldman A, Sheen V, McWilliams S, Guptan RC. Experience with concomitant, ultrasound-guid­ed foam sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment in chronic venous disorder and its influence on Health Related Quality of Life: Interim analysis of more than 1,000 consecu­tive procedures. International Angiology. 2009;28(4):289-97. 3. Perrin MR, Guex JJ, Ruckley CV, et al. Recurrent varices after surgery (REVAS), a consensus document. REVAS group. Cardio­vascular Surgery. 2000;8(4):233-45.