Treating varicose and spider veins

Varicose veins and spider veins are a a concern for many people in the United States.

However thanks to modern advances in technology, there are now minimally invasive procedures that can treat these veins and improve your quality of life.

Dr. Michelle Kosovec, a vascular surgeon from Mercy Health, came to talk about the importance of recognizing the causes and symptoms of varicose and spider veins, and the treatment options available.

The function of a vein is to carry blood back to the heart. They have a series of one-way check valves to help the blood return against gravity in the legs. When these valves stop working, the blood pools in the veins cause them to bulge, swell, and become visible through the skin. This process is called venous reflux or insufficiency, and can lead to many disabling symptoms.

Varicose veins are bulging veins under the skin, most of the time in the legs. However, spider veins are smaller, and usually form in the skin and appear because of underlying venous reflux.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Heaviness in the legs
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Bleeding
  • Ulcers

Symptoms sometimes get worse after long periods of standing. Compression stockings and leg elevation can sometimes provide temporary relief.

If conservative therapy with compression stockings fails to relieve the symptoms, there are minimally invasive techniques to provide long-term relief.  These techniques get rid of the faulty veins, which your body doesn’t need.  Most of the blood returns to the heart through deeper veins in the legs.

Techniques for treatment include ultrasound-guided radiofrequency ablation, microphlebectomy, and sclerotherapy.  These treatments can get rid of both the varicose veins and the spider veins.  They involve using heat, small incisions, or medication.

These kinds of treatments are office-based procedures and typically take less than an hour. In some cases an entire extremity can be treated in one session, and patients can even return to their normal activities that same day. Most of these procedures are covered by insurance.

If varicose veins are left untreated, it can lead to disabling pain, permanent skin changes, ulcers, and bleeding.

If you think you have varicose veins, Mercy Health Physician Partners Vascular Surgery offers a variety of services and treatments. To get more infomration or to schedule a consultation, call (616) 685-7850.


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