While they are not life-threatening, varicose veins are an unsightly and uncomfortable problem that many people will face at some point in their lifetime.
"People will be worried about how they look but more importantly they do cause symptoms. You can get clotting in the varicose veins those will cause superficial pain and redness and a thickening of the vein almost like an infiltrated IV." Said Dr. Paul Meyer, a cardiovascular surgeon with The North Central Heart Institute.
These bulging veins can happen anywhere on the body but more often than not they will spring up in the saphenous veins of the legs. This is a long vein that runs just below the skin from the hip to the ankle. And as we get older things just stop working like they used to.
"If the valves go bad, gravity will cause blood to pool in your legs as blood starts to pool in the saphenous vein the branches of the saphenous vein are more superficial those will fill as well and those are actually the squiggly veins that you see and recognize as varicose veins." Said Dr. Meyer.
Dr. Meyer has treated countless patients in need of vein repair and says women are more commonly effected by varicose veins, which typically start to show after pregnancy. In the past the only treatment was vein stripping, where the entire saphenous vein and varicose branches are surgically removed.
"We do it a little bit differently now we do what's called a laser ablation. What that does is basically cauterize the veins closed from the in side out and so the vein is still in there but it's not open and your move that pressure going down the leg." Said Dr. Meyer.
With the vein closed off, the blood returns to the heart and lungs through the deeper veins in the leg. It's a local anesthetic so patients are awake the whole time and they can go home afterwards. However, in some cases follow up procedures are needed to get rid of those squiggly spider veins.
"These branch veins have a tendency to clot off because there's nowhere else for the blood to go so what we would generally do is what's called a phlebectomy where little micro-incisions are performed over the top of the vein and those branch veins are actually removed."
Said Dr. Meyer.
Varicose veins can be uncomfortable both physically and visibly. But thanks to Dr. Meyer and North Central Heart, they're are a pain and a look you don't have to live with.
The saphenous vein is typically the vein that's also used in several heart bypass because a person will have little to no side effect once it's removed. For more information about varicose veins just call 877-AT-AVERA.