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James Laredo, MD, PhD
Varicose Veins More Than a Cosmetic Concern
The GW Medical Faculty Associates

Varicose Veins More Than a Cosmetic Concern

It is estimated that 50 percent of adults in the United States have varicose veins. In fact, varicose veins affect millions of people, yet many who have varicose veins are unaware of the potential complications associated with them.

While varicose veins may appear to be a cosmetic inconvenience that may prevent you from showing your legs, they can cause significant leg symptoms that may require treatment. The most common symptoms caused by varicose veins include pain, often described as an aching, throbbing type of pain, leg swelling that often involves the ankles and calves and worsens throughout the day, and leg heaviness that worsens throughout the day. People with varicose veins experiencing these symptoms often have to sit and rest their legs several times a day.

Many people with varicose veins ignore their symptoms. They should be aware of the medical problems associated with them.

Medical Problems Associated with Varicose Veins

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) This is a blood clot that develops in a deep vein of the legs. Patients with varicose veins have a slightly higher risk of developing a DVT compared with patients without varicose veins. When a blood clot develops in a deep vein, the blood clot can break loose and travel to the heart and lungs and cause a serious and life threatening pulmonary embolism.

Thrombophlebitis A condition where a blood clot develops in a varicose vein producing pain, swelling and redness. This is not a life threatening condition and it often resolves after 10-14 days. Patients with varicose veins are at risk of developing this condition.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency A condition in the veins of the legs where the one way valves that prevent back flow no longer function properly resulting in abnormal blood flow down the leg and elevated vein pressure. This leads to leg swelling and worsening varicose veins. If left untreated, patients may develop skin discoloration, skin inflammation, and in more serious cases, leg ulcers.

Venous Ulcers These are leg wounds that most often occur on the inside of the ankle in patients with severe chronic venous insufficiency.

Minimally Invasive Treatments Available

Varicose veins and the medical problems associated with them can be diagnosed and treated on an outpatient basis with minimal inconvenience and downtime. An ultrasound of the leg veins is all that is needed to diagnose vein conditions in the majority of patients.

Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency can be treated with office based, minimally invasive procedures. These treatments include sclerotherapy, phlebectomy, and endovenous ablation and are covered by most insurance plans.

Importance of a Vein Evaluation by a Vascular Surgeon

Vascular surgeons are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of blood vessel disorders including varicose veins. If you have varicose veins and are interested in learning about your treatment options, schedule a vein evaluation with a board-certified vascular

surgeon today.

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