Overview of Varicose Veins & Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
More than 30 million Americans suffer from varicose veins and the more serious form of venous disease called Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), yet only 1.9 million seek treatment each year. Diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins can be a source of frustration for patients and physicians alike. However, if the disease is left untreated, varicose veins can progress to become CVI with symptoms that worsen over time. Fortunately, diagnosing and treating this disease early can halt its progression.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red or flesh colored. They are often raised above the skin on legs and look like twisted, bulging cords. They can also be associated with pain, aches, heaviness, restless legs, or burning and itching of the skin.
What causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins develop as a result of damaged valves that allow reflux or backward flow of venous circulation. This results in high venous pressure causing dilatation of the veins and pooling of blood in the legs. There are a number of factors that contribute to varicose veins including pregnancy and heredity.
What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins, though often thought of as a cosmetic nuisance, can actually cause pain, leg heaviness and fatigue and progress to CVI, a more serious medical condition.
What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)?
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a progressive medical condition that may worsen over time. As varicose veins progress to become CVI, other painful symptoms like leg swelling, skin damage and ulcers may occur.
Minimally Invasive Treatments
Today, there are a number of minimally invasive treatment options that are covered by many insurance plans. While treatments like compression stockings are often first prescribed to manage symptoms, there are a variety of treatments that may actually treat the diseased veins that cause varicose veins, improve your quality of life and potentially halt the progression of CVI.
Compression stockings typically apply an external pressure of 20 to 30 mm Hg to the leg. These special socks that fit tightly over the legs and ankle can be used for symptom relief. For patients with varicose veins or patients with skin ulcers, stockings applying 30 to 40 mm Hg of pressure are preferred.Most insurance companies will require wearing of the compression stockings for at least 3 months before the will consider approving other varicose vein treatments.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution such as hypertonic saline or sotradecol in the form of foam sclerotherapy into the vein as an irritant. As it travels through the abnormal vein, the solution irritates and shuts the vein down. The body absorbs the dying veins and they are effectively eliminated for good.
Microphlebectomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat large varicose veins. Tiny incisions are made in the skin allowing for the removal of varicose veins just below the skin’s surface. The incisions do not usually require stitches and leave minimal scarring. Following the procedure, the patient is instructed to wear compression socks temporarily. The incisions typically heal within two weeks.
Varicose Vein Stripping
In the past, varicose veins were treated by “stripping”. This is a procedure that was performed in the hospital under general anesthesia. It resulted in major bruising and significant down time. Surgeons unfamiliar with the latest technology may still perform this procedure.
Endovenous Thermal Ablation
Endovenous thermal ablation is a minimally invasive treatment that involves the insertion of a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a diseased vein and uses heat to seal it shut. Blood that would normally return toward the heart through these veins will then travel through other veins instead. Over time the treated vein shrinks and is absorbed by the body. Compared with surgical options like vein stripping, endovenous thermal ablation results in less pain and quicker average recovery time.
We proudly offer the Venefit™ procedure, formerly known as the VNUS Closure™ procedure, for the treatment of varicose veins and CVI. The Venefit™ procedure is a minimally invasive segmental ablation treatment that utilizes radiofrequency (RF) energy to provide an even and uniform heat to contract the collagen in the vein walls, causing them to collapse and seal. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will re-route itself to other healthy veins.
The Venefit™ procedure allows for a quick, comfortable recovery and a return to everyday activities for the average patient, while also improving the appearance of varicose veins.