Varicose veins - treatment

Apr 7, 2012 , Kateřina Hudecová

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Varicose veins are a vascular disease of the lower extremities, where the venous wall swells and the venous valves malfunction. The treatment of varicose veins can be pharmacological, i.e. by the use of drugs. Other treatment options for varicose veins are sclerotherapy, surgical removal of the varicose veins, or laser treatment.

Treatment of varicose veins

Varicose veins indicate a disease where the superficial veins, especially in the legs, swell. Varicose veins affect women approximately twice as often. Probably, this is due to the effect of hormonal changes and pregnancy. Varicose veins initially represent only a cosmetic problem without noticeable symptoms. Since complications may occur, it is necessary to treat varicose veins. The treatment of varicose veins may be conservative, surgical, laser or sclerotherapy.

Causes of varicose veins

As already mentioned, varicose veins form due to the swelling of the venous wall. In the swelled veins the function of valves, which are abundant in the lower limbs, deteriorates. The valves thus fail to prevent backflow of blood. Consequently, the blood accumulates in the veins, and flows less toward the heart. Varicose veins appear as swellings on the skin that can be felt by palpation. Most often, about 90%, the disease is hereditary. Varicose veins are also caused by female sex hormones, pregnancy, prolonged standing or obesity.

Symptoms of varicose veins

Varicose veins appear as swollen, twisted, zigzag veins on the surface of the lower extremities. They are accompanied by pain and a feeling of heavy legs mainly in the evening. Women have worse symptoms before menstruation. Furthermore, varicose veins are manifested by changes in the skin color in the area of the varicose veins, swelling and also varicose ulcers can form.

Conservative treatment of varicose veins

One of the methods of treatment is called conservative, i.e. non-operative treatment. It is most often used at the beginning of the disease or in cases where the operation would be too risky. It includes wearing special elastic stockings, which relieve pain and also prevent further swelling of the vein. It is also possible to use so-called vasoprotectives. Vasoprotectives are drugs that reinforce the venous walls and improve the outflow of blood from the lower extremities. These include glyvenol or other flavonoids. This method of treatment does not cure the disease, only eases its course. For patients with varicose veins, it is recommended an increased intake of vitamin C and sufficient exercise.

Sclerotherapy for varicose veins

Another type of treatment of varicose veins is called sclerotherapy or induration. This method is mainly used to remove small veins of the lower extremities. It is based on the injection of the vein with special needles with a sclerosing substance, which damages the venous wall. Next, the scarring of veins occurs and the vein closes and partially or completely disappears. For complete closure of veins, it is necessary to immediately after the injection of the sclerosing agents constrict the limb with special bandages or stockings for at least 48 hours. The disadvantage of this method is that very often the disease forms again, i.e. relapse occurs.

Surgical treatment of varicose veins

Another possibility of the treatment of varicose veins is a surgical operation in which the swelled vein is removed. It is the most suitable treatment mainly for advanced varicose veins of the lower extremities and the risk of recurrence of the disease is low. Operations are now performed mostly under local anesthesia, the patient remains conscious, but also total anesthesia in which the patient is put to sleep for surgery is possible. During the operation the connections between the superficial and deep venous system are interrupted. Previously, the classical operation was to remove the whole vein, but nowadays a less invasive surgical method CHIVA is used. This method is very gentle to the patient because it does not remove the entire vein, but only the damaged part.

Laser treatment for varicose veins

Finally, it is worth mentioning a new method for the treatment of varicose veins - laser treatment. In this method, through small punctures in the groin an optical fiber laser is introduced into the affected vein. Then the vein is sealed by laser irradiation. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and takes approximately 60 minutes. The big advantage is only small pain, less recovery time and less postoperative consequences. Currently, this type of treatment is not covered by insurance and patients must therefore pay it by themselves.

Selecting the appropriate method of treatment for varicose veins

Like almost every disease also in varicose veins, the selection of the type of treatment depends largely on the location and extent of the disability, and therefore is chosen for each patient individually. Generally, small varicose veins are treated by sclerotherapy, for larger varicose veins surgery is recommended. It is best if the patient directly consults with his doctor or surgeon, who will assess the status of varicose veins and suggests which type of treatment, would be most appropriate.


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