Timothy Berkseth, M.D.
The weather is getting warmer, and many people are planning summer vacations and weekend getaways. But for some people, their legs and varicose veins may be causing some hesitation. Varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic issue and can lead to more serious health conditions, such as ulcers or blood clots.
Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged blood vessels, most frequently on the legs, that often are bulging, rope-like and blue in appearance. Your symptoms could include:
- An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
- Muscle cramping, burning, throbbing or swelling in your lower legs
- Itching around one of your veins
- Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
- Bleeding from the veins
- Skin ulcers near your ankle
Self-care measures, such as exercise, weight loss, smoking cessation, leg elevation and using compression stockings, help many people. However, it is time to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about how your veins look and feel, and self-care measures haven’t stopped your condition from getting worse.
You may have heard stories from the past about vein stripping or other invasive treatments. These treatments often had scarring and a longer recovery time. Technology has advanced in recent years, and we have many minimally invasive treatment options that can make a difference.
Radiofrequency or laser ablation surgeries produce good results with little downtime. In these treatments, we use heat or light to damage the inside of the vein, ultimately causing it to collapse and fade away. Another option is sclerotherapy, which injects a solution that causes the vein to collapse. The process of destroying the veins begins immediately, and most people see full results in about two months. After treatment, your blood circulation is not reduced because it already has been rerouted to other healthy veins nearby.
So, if painful, uncomfortable or unsightly varicose veins are slowing down your summer plans, schedule an appointment with your health care provider today.