Varicose Veins; the “Family Inheritance” You Don’t Have to Keep
Adapted from Original Information by Mark Lundell, MD
Varicose veins are a “GIFT” we inherit from our parents—and our children. Heredity is the primary cause of venous reflux—faulty valves, and pregnancy can make them worse. Occupations that demand significant standing or walking, injuries, and obesity contribute as well. Hydrostatic pressure makes most varicosities appear in legs. But you can also get them in your hands, arms, face, and torso. In fact, hemorrhoids are actually also a form of varicose veins. Your body’s circulatory system has two kinds of blood vessels: arteries, and veins. Arteries transport oxygen-rich blood from your heart and circulate it throughout your body. Veins return that blood back to your heart, so that your heart can again circulate it. Veins have one-way valves that, when functioning properly, close and prevent that blood from flowing backwards. Unfortunately these valves can weaken or become damaged; allowing blood to fall back down each time your heart pumps it up. By the end of each day, faulty valves cause your legs to feel heavy, swollen, and as if someone kinked a garden hose in your legs…and they HURT!
The amazing human body has two blood return channels in your legs.
The deep system transports most of your blood back up your legs. Each is surrounded by your calf muscles that actually pump blood back to your heart with every step, like having a second heart. The superficial system transports blood back from the outer layers of your legs. These are the veins that become varicosed and swollen. But, since the deep system does most of the work, these veins are not essential and can easily be closed, or even totally removed.
Varicose veins are a medical condition—not just a cosmetic concern.
The key to treating them effectively is to properly diagnose the underlying cause, utilizing duplex ultrasound. A treatment plan should be individually developed to treat each patient’s condition with the most conservative and efficient approach. Most insurers and Medicare cover such treatments.
Technology caught up with vein disease.
Vein stripping is now obsolete. Scottsdale Vein Center can treat most problems with walk-in-walk-out (outpatient basis) procedures. Large, bulging veins can be sealed shut by a catheter which is inserted through an incision small enough to be covered by a Band-Aid. Small spider veins disappear with a painless medication which is then inserted through the tiny, hollow needle (catheter). Patients are supposed to actually go walking that same afternoon—Scottsdale Vein Center’s physicians will recommend, “Go to the mall!” Compression stockings help assure the veins remain sealed as they heal.
Radio Frequency (RF) Closure
is the state of the art alternative to the now-obsolete vein stripping procedure, as well as laser-based ones. Scottsdale Vein Center’s technician will assist your surgeon in the utilization of Doppler ultrasound to locate damaged veins. The surgeon then inserts the catheter into that vein, again through a tiny incision that can be covered with a Band-Aid. This catheter is then used to deliver RF energy into the affected veins’ walls, causing them to heat, collapse, and seal themselves shut. Your blood flow is then reestablished by your remarkable human body’s functions, through your healthy deep venous system. Little to no scarring results and your pain stops immediately. Most spider veins will gradually disappear entirely. Such procedures are completed at Scottsdale Vein Center under local anesthesia.
By the end of the day your legs feel heavy with swollen veins that feel like a kinked garden hose. And they hurt!
The Late Mark Lundell, MD