Get a Leg up
- Department of:
- Adena Regional Medical Center
If you’re wearing long pants to hide the unsightly veins in your legs, you’re not alone. At least 50 percent of women have some type of vein problem, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Women’s Health. Varicose veins can be painful and could lead to blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis.
According to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, the two main treatments for varicose veins—surgery and laser treatment—are equally effective in helping alleviate the pain and reducing their visible appearance. Adena’s vascular physicians offer both techniques.
Surgical ligation, often called vein stripping, removes the weak vein, allowing surrounding veins to take over blood circulation to the area. While endovenous techniques deliver radiofrequency or laser energy via a small probe. The heat from the probe causes the vein to collapse.
Researchers found that recurrence of varicose veins was similar after both procedures, but those who had laser surgery were more likely to develop a recurrence in the saphenofemoral junction, where two of the main deep veins of your legs meet.
The study also found that patients were equally satisfied with the two procedures and would choose them again, although the laser procedure patients did have a faster recovery and a better cosmetic outcome than those who had surgery. It was also a better choice for patients who can’t undergo surgery, such as pregnant women.
Many women first experience varicose veins during pregnancy. They look like twisted cords and can even be swollen enough to rise above your skin’s surface. They are caused when blood in your legs making its way back to your heart leaks back into your vein because you have weak or damaged valves in your veins. They most often appear in your legs, ankles, buttocks and vagina because gravity makes it harder for the blood to keep moving toward the heart.
While pregnancy is a cause, other risk factors include:
- increasing age
- being sedentary
- family history of weak vein valves
- other hormonal changes, including menopause and taking birth control pills and other medications containing estrogen or progesterone
Before your doctor recommends surgery or laser treatment, he or she might recommend one of these other options:
- Compression stockings, which put helpful pressure on your veins
- Slerotherapy, a procedure during which your doctor injects a liquid chemical into your vein to permanently seal off blood flow.
- Surface laser treatments that use strong bursts of light, in several 15- to 20-minute sessions, to make the vein disappear.
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