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  • What are varicose veins?
  • What causes varicose veins?
  • Why Do Varicose Veins Occur Mostly In The Legs?
  • Who is most at risk for varicose veins?
  • What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?
  • What are venous leg ulcers or Venous Ulcerations?
  • Are there short term treatments for varicose veins?
  • What is sclerotherapy?
  • What is ambulatory phlebectomy?
  • When is the Closure Procedure used?
  • What is the main difference between arteries and veins?
  • What are the types of veins?
What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are bulging, blue veins near the surface of the skin caused by damaged valves. This affects 10%-20% of adults. The most common location for varicose veins is the back of the calf and the vein inside of the leg that runs from the groin to the ankle. Not only are these veins unsightly, but because they are holding more blood that usual, the blood can be forced into the surrounding tissue. This causes the leg to swell and feel heavy, compressing nerve muscle, bone, and surrounding tissues. Varicose veins can also cause itching and burning of the skin, and in extreme cases venous ulceration.

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins are caused by damaged valves in the veins of the leg. Veins pump blood back to the heart, but the veins in your leg must defy gravity to get the blood back up. This is especially true for people who spend long periods of time standing. The valves prevent blood from flowing backwards. When these valves become damaged, blood flows back down the vein and pools in the leg. This pooling causes the vein to swell, which further contributes to valve damage. As the vein swells it bulges and becomes visible underneath the skin.

Why Do Varicose Veins Occur Mostly In The Legs?

The distance from your feet to your heart is the furthest blood must travel, and in addition to this it must travel against gravity. The legs, and the veins in your legs, are also withstanding the pressure put on them by your body weight every time you stand. These factors force the veins in your legs to work harder than the veins elsewhere in your body, making them the most likely to be affected by venous reflux which causes varicose veins.

Who is most at risk for varicose veins?

There are many factors that contribute to whether someone is at risk for varicose veins. Heredity, blood clots, hormonal changes, obesity, standing frequently for prolonged periods, and past vein diseases are some of these factors. Women are more likely to get them than men, and people over 50 are 50% more likely to get varicose veins.

What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?

In addition to the bulging, blue appearance, varicose veins can cause swelling, a feeling of heaviness in the legs, the vein itself may ache, and the skin around them may become inflamed, red, and itchy. In severe cases, some patients have developed venous ulcerations. Varicose veins can also cause or worsen Restless Leg Syndrome.

What are venous leg ulcers or Venous Ulcerations?

The swelling of varicose veins in the leg can cause the overlying skin to break down and create an ulcer in some people. Typically on the lower leg, it is an area where the top layer of skin has died and exposed the raw flesh underneath due to tissue breakdown. Ulcers can range in size from the size of a thumbnail to completely encompassing the leg. These ulcers are painful, odorous, and weep fluids. This is a more severe symptom manifestation of varicose veins, usually resulting when these veins are left untreated for a long time. Venous ulcerations tend to develop in older people, but have been known to occur as young as the teenage years in some. These ulcers need to be differentiated from arterial ulcers, which have a different pathology and treatment plan.

Are there short term treatments for varicose veins?

We tell our Orlando vein center patients that an easy way to remember the conservative approach to varicose vein treatments is ESES (pronounced “S.S.”). This stands for Exercise, Stockings, Elevation, and Still. Exercising, wearing compression stockings, elevating the legs, and resting the legs can all help to ease the symptoms caused by varicose veins. Weight loss can also help. This approach will not fix the varicose vein, however, as it does not address the cause of varicose veins- venous reflux. The treatments performed in our Longwood office, such as The Closure Procedure and Ambulatory Phlebectomy provide longer-term results.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a procedure where the vein is injected with a chemical solution that causes the vein to spasm and close. This re-routes the blood to other, healthy veins. Typically this is more successful on smaller veins, and is only a temporary solution for larger varicose veins.

What is ambulatory phlebectomy?

Ambulatory phlebectomy is a procedure where varicose veins that are close to the surface are removed through small incisions. These incisions are so small that no stitching is required. After cleaning the area with sterile technique, a surgical hook is inserted into the incision and the vein is fished out of the leg. This procedure is done in our Longwood office’s vein treatment room.

When is the Closure Procedure used?

Here at our Orlando vein treatment center, we also use a procedure called VNUS Closure® to reroute blood flow to healthy veins. It is much less invasive than vein stripping, as it does not require removal of the vein. A catheter is inserted into the affected vein, and thermal heat is applied which causes the vein to collapse. The vein is absorbed over time by the surrounding tissue in your body. This method is also known as Endovenous Catheter Occlusion.

What is the main difference between arteries and veins?

Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart, delivering it to the rest of your body. Veins carry the de-oxygenated blood back to the heart. This is why it is the veins, not arteries, which must defy gravity when pumping blood back up your legs, and are therefore susceptible to damaged valves. Veins in your legs have one way valves, but arteries do not.

What are the types of veins?

There are three main types of veins:

Deep Leg Veins – As the name suggests, these veins are deep in your legs near the bone. They pump blood directly back to the heart.

Superficial Leg Veins – These veins are close to the surface of your skin, and thus do not receive as much support from muscle and bones as the deep leg veins do. These veins are more likely to develop weaknesses. Most vein procedures are performed on superficial veins.

Perforator Veins – These are the veins that connect the superficial leg veins to the deep leg veins.

If you have any more questions, or to see which varicose vein treatment is right for you, contact the Heart Vein & Vascular to schedule your consultation.

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