Varicose Vein Therapy
Varicose Vein Therapy
What are varicose veins?
Venous insufficiency is a very common condition resulting from decreased blood flow from the leg veins up to the heart, with pooling of blood in the veins. Normally, one-way valves in the veins keep blood flowing toward the heart, against the force of gravity. When the valves become weak and don’t close properly, they allow blood to flow backward, a condition called reflux.
Veins that have lost their valve effectiveness become elongated, rope-like, bulged, and thickened. These enlarged, swollen vessels are known as varicose veins and are a direct result of increased pressure from reflux. A common cause of varicose veins in the legs is reflux in a thigh vein called the great saphenous, which leads to pooling in the visible varicose vein below.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins or venous insufficiency?
Symptoms cause by venous insufficiency and varicose veins include aching pain, easy leg fatigue, and leg heaviness, all of which worsen as the day progresses. Many people find they need to sit down in the afternoon and elevate their legs to relieve these symptoms.
In more severe cases, venous insufficiency and reflux can cause skin discoloration and ulceration which may be very difficult to treat. One percent of adults over age 60 have chronic ulceration.
Who is at risk for varicose veins?
Risk factors include, age, family history, female gender, and pregnancy. In women, pregnancy, especially multiple pregnancies, is one of the most common factors accelerating the worsening of varicose veins.
How are varicose veins treated?
The Interventional Radiologists at California Imaging Institute perform a minimally-invasive treatment using imaging guidance. After applying local anesthetic to the vein, the interventional radiologist inserts a thin catheter, about the size of a strand of spaghetti, into the vein and guides it up the greater saphenous vein in the thigh. Then laser or radiofrequency energy is applied to the inside of the vein. This heats the vein and seals the vein closed.
What are the benefits of vein ablation?
The treatment takes less than an hour and provides immediate relief of symptoms. You can return to normal activity immediately with little or no pain. There may be minor soreness or bruising, which can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. There is no scar, because the procedure does not require a surgical incision, just a nick in the skin, about the size of a pencil tip.
For more information please call California Imaging Institute at 559.325.5800.
To learn more, please visit the Society of Interventional Radiology at www.SIRweb.org.
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Medication Instructions for Varicose Vein Therapy
- Most people can continue to take their prescribed medications.
- If you are a diabetic and take insulin, ask your doctor about modifying your insulin dose for the day of your procedure. If you are taking the oral anti-diabetic medicine Glucophage (Metformin), Plavix, or Lovenox, you may need to discontinue use for up to 48 hours following the procedure. Consult with your doctor about blood sugar control during this period.
- If you take a blood thinner such as Aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix, or Lovenox, you must tell your doctor so that it can be stopped. If you do not know if your medications are blood thinners, please consult your physician at least one week prior to your exam.
- Please bring a list of your current medications and dosages on the day of your exam.
Do not eat or drink after midnight on the night before your procedure. Do not smoke for at least 24 hours prior to your angiogram.
If you are allergic to contrast (X-Ray dye) or iodine, let your doctor know as soon as possible. If possible, let the interventional radiologist know about your allergy a few days before your angiogram.