I recently did an article on spider veins and I thought it remiss not to give varicose veins equal attention. Plus, I didn’t want to piss off the varicose gods and get them out of spite.
Honestly though, I think I may have the beginning of one on the front of my lower leg. It’s like the size of a pencil eraser and only shows up when I work out, so luckily I don’t see it often.
But, I think we can all agree that varicose veins aren’t pretty, plus they can be an indication of some more serious health issues. Let’s discuss the causes and how to get rid of them.
What is a Varicose Vein?
Varicose Veins are enlarged, textured veins that can be red, blue or flesh colored. They’re three dimensional and hard to miss. Unlike spider veins, which are largely aesthetic, varicose veins can be an indication of a serious medical condition, such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), and heart valve issues. Plus they can be super painful, burn and itch.
Varicose veins are indications of an impedance in your bodies’ blood flow. Blood has to circulate through your body and then get back to your heart, and when it doesn’t do that properly, blood can accumulate causing varicose veins.
They can lead to ulcers in your skin, or even blood clots, so make sure to treat them with respect and get them checked out. Let’s see if you’re at risk of getting these pain in the butt’s.
4 Key Factors of Varicose Veins
There are 4 key factors that put you at a higher risk for varicose veins so, if any apply to you, you may want to take a few extra moments to check out the back of your legs in the mirror.
As you age your veins lose elasticity, causing them to stretch, increasing their circumference, making it easier for blood to collect there if there is not sufficient circulation to make up for it. Also, the skin holding the veins in can develop laxity with age, making them hard to go unnoticed.
A lot of women get varicose veins from pregnancy. Pregnancy increases the amount of blood that needs to circulate through the lower half of your body. It’s all good and well for the babe, but your leg veins, not so much.
A way to help with this is to wear compression socks. If I were prego, I’d be rocking those compression socks. I’d turn the A/C down, layer them with tube socks and channel my inner pregnant cheerleader.
Boys LOVE tube socks.
Menopause. I hate that word. Small break to watch ‘The Men All Pause’ by Klymaxx.
Hormone changes can play a role in varicose veins due to the changes in our levels of estrogen, which can also be a reason you may get them when your pregnant.
NOT common, so don’t freak out, but it’s always good to get this issue checked out by your doc. Read more about the health connotations here.
Now, what you’ve been waiting for, how the heck to get rid of these horrid things.
5 Non-Surgical Treatments for Varicose Veins
There are 5 non-surgical treatments. Let’s decide which varicose vein treatment is right for you!
VenaSeal Closure System
Ideal For: Superficial, symptomatic varicose veins
Price: Approximately $4000 per leg
The VenaSeal treatment was approved by the FDA ,for use in the United States, in February 2015, even though they’ve been doing this everywhere else for years. The procedure involves using a catheter to inject medical glue into your varicose veins. Results are immediate and permanent.
There aren’t a lot of doctors in the U.S. doing this procedure, so you can count on me doing a bit of investigating. When I find them I will let you know!
Ideal For: Small, superficial varicose veins
Price: $150 to $350 per leg per treatment
Standard Sclerotherapy is the injection of sodium chloride and lidocaine into your vein with a syringe, in order to collapse the vein. It may take several weeks to see the results and may take a few treatments.
I discuss this in more detail in my article MamaToo Vein for Spider Veins? Top 3 Ways to Get Rid of Spider Veins.
Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy
Ideal For: People with large areas of bulbous, squiggly varicose veins
Cost: Approximately $600 per leg
Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy (or just ‘foam sclerotherapy’), is a bit more involved than standard sclerotherapy in that it uses an ultrasound probe to inject foam into specific areas of the vein. This allows the physician to have a better handle on the application and is great for treating large patches of varicose veins.
It may take several weeks to enjoy the results, but it usually only takes one or max, two treatments. For larger veins, you may have to wear a compression stocking for about a week after.
Endovenous Laser Therapy
Ideal For: Long, staight, bulbous varicose veins
Cost: $600 to $3000 depending on the severity of the veins
In Endovenous Laser Therapy, also referred to as Endovenous Thermal Ablation, uses a fiber tip to introduce a laser (most commonly a diode laser) directly into the vein, immediately shrinking and cauterizing it.
This usually only takes one treatment. You will experience some bruising and may have to wear a compression stocking until your follow up visit when your physician will use an ultrasound to be sure that the vein is completely collapsed.
Ideal for : People with Bulbous, somewhat straight varicose veins
Cost: From $200 to $500 per treatment
Radiofrequency ablation is similar to endovenous laser therapy with the difference being that radio frequency energy is introduced inside the vein as opposed to laser light energy. The results are immediate and you may have to wear a compression stocking for about a week.
One treatment should do the trick.
Will Your Insurance Pay?
If after an ultrasound exam, it is found that you have varicose veins, and they interfere with your daily activities such as work or child care OR if you have complications such as ulcers, phlebitis or skin changes, then some insurances will cover this procedure.
(Your varicose veins hurt right? Ow!)
For the most part, any one of these treatments should take care of your varicose veins. However, for more severe cases, there are also surgical procedures, like stripping or ligation. I will be writing about these in coming articles. Also, keep an eye out for more detailed articles on the five procedures discussed above.
If you have varicose veins, even if you don’t mind the way that they look, or they don’t cause you pain, burn or itch, you should still see a physician. Better be safe than sorry!