Christopher Kasal, M.D.
Colon & Rectal Surgery, Surgery
If you struggle with swollen, gnarled veins that appear blue, and cause throbbing pain and heavy, tired legs, then you’re not alone. Millions of Americans experience similar pain due to varicose veins.
Causes of varicose veins can include age, heredity and pregnancy. As you get older, your veins can lose elasticity, causing them to stretch. The valves in your veins may become weak, allowing blood that should be moving toward your heart to flow backward. Blood pools in your veins, and your veins enlarge and become varicose. The veins appear blue because they contain deoxygenated blood, which is in the process of being recirculated through the lungs. Heredity also seems to be a factor. If your parents or siblings have had varicose veins, you’re more likely to develop them. If you are obese or have had multiple pregnancies, then you’re also more susceptible. The extra weight adds strain to the veins.
Once they appear, varicose veins never go away without treatment, and they can worsen over time. Fortunately, varicose veins can be treated with a minimally invasive procedure available.
Endovenous thermal ablation (the VNUS closure procedure) is an outpatient procedure performed to treat larger varicose veins. It is an alternative to vein stripping. In the procedure, a surgeon inserts a thin tube, or catheter, into the vein and applies heat through the tip of the catheter. When the catheter is withdrawn, the heat causes the vein to collapse (ablate) and scar shut, and the blood reroutes through healthier veins. The energy source of heat applied through the catheter to cause the collapsed vein may be radiofrequency waves or lasers. Patients are able to resume activity within a few days.
Talk with your health care provider if you have concerns about varicose veins.