WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS?
Your circulatory system is a complex network of arteries and veins which deliver oxygen and nutrients to your entire body. Arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Veins carry blood back to your heart to be replenished with oxygen. In your legs, veins contain valves that keep blood pumping up to your heart, and prevent blood from flowing back down to your feet. If these valves become weak, blood can leak back into the veins and collect there, creating a condition called venous insufficiency. As the blood pools in a vein, the vein enlarges, becoming varicose.
Varicose veins often appear twisted and bulging. Because these veins are swollen, they raise above the surface of the skin. They may be flesh colored, or make appear to be a dark purple or blue color. Varicose veins commonly form on the back of the calves or on the inside of the legs. Up to 50% of women and 20% of men suffer from the symptoms of varicose veins.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Varicose veins have a number of symptoms, including:
- Itching or irritated rash on the legs or near the ankles
- Tenderness around the area of the varicose vein
- Darkening of the skin may occur in severe cases
- Numbness in the legs
- Swelling in the legs
- Legs tire easily
- Leg heaviness
- Aching pain
If you exhibit any of these symptoms, you should talk to your physician about treatment options.
ELVeS (Endovenous Laser Treatment)
ELVes (Endovenous Laser Treatment) is a relatively new form of treatment and has replaced stripping in most severe varicose vein cases. The ELVeS procedure is a preferred form of endovenous laser treatment that combines the effectiveness of surgery with the minimally-invasive, in-office ease of sclerotherapy. ELVeS is a safe, in-office procedure that uses fewer injections, less local anesthesia and has a quicker recovery time.
How does ELVeS work?
During the ELVeS procedure, our physicians will map the varicose vein using ultrasound. A thin laser fiber is inserted into the vein. Laser light is emitted through the fiber, and the laser energy closes the vein.
As the faulty vein closes, blood flow is rerouted to the surrounding healthy veins. As this occurs, the symptoms of the varicose veins improve. The entire process takes approximately 45 minutes.
What happens afterward?
Normal activities may be resumed immediately after the procedure, with the exception of rigorous exercise. Most patients feel no pain, although some do experience minimal discomfort. Slight bruising may also occur.
Besides compression therapy, the most common form of treatment of varicose veins has been the surgical removal of the incompetent vein, known as “microphelbectomy”. In this procedure, a skin incision of about 2 mm is made through which the veins are extracted. This procedure is done under local anesthesia. To facilitate healing, patients generally wear a compression bandage for 72 hours after surgery. This out patient surgical procedure may be done at Cheyenne Surgical Center in Cheyenne or Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie.
Sclerotherapy was developed over 75 years ago and today is one of the most common treatments for spider veins. During the treatment, a sclerosing agent is injected into the vein with a tiny needle. The solution, once injected into the vein, replaces the blood in the vein and causes irritation and corrosion to the walls of the vessel. The body then begins the natural healing process and the vein begins to close, shrink, and eventually disappear.