Venous Disease and Varicose Veins
About Venous Disease
Veins are the blood vessels that return blood from the body to the heart. In healthy veins, one-way valves allow blood to move from the legs toward the heart.
Varicose veins, a type of vascular disease, are caused by weakened vein walls and faulty valves. When normal vein walls become weak, they allow blood that should be moving toward the heart to flow backward. One-way valves within the veins fail to function properly and allow blood to pool and pressure to build up. These factors weaken and damage the veins and cause them to become twisted, enlarged and painful varicose veins.
Venous Disease Symptoms
In addition to the visual appearance of bulging veins, many patients experience:
- Pain (aching or cramping feeling)
- Burning or tingling sensations
- Tender areas around the veins
How We Treat Venous Disease
The first step in the treatment of advanced venous disease involves closing the Greater Saphenous Vein (GSV), a large vein that runs along the inside of the upper thigh. In the past, the vein was removed in a surgical procedure known as vein stripping. Vein stripping procedures are performed in an operating room under general anesthesia, and involve a considerable recovery period for the patient. However, a less invasive procedure called Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT®) has become an accepted alternative varicose veins treatment to surgical stripping.
EVLT does not require general anesthesia and is performed in an outpatient setting. A laser is inserted through a small entry point in the leg using a local anesthetic. Energy from the laser is discharged, causing the vein walls to close.
While the EVLT procedure will be successful at closing the abnormal GSV in greater than 90% of patients, not every patient will experience complete relief with this treatment alone. Many patients will require supplemental therapy with sclerotherapy or ambulatory phlebectomy to achieve a complete cosmetic result.
Patients seeking treatment for spider veins can often see a cosmetic improvement with surface laser treatment.