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Varicose Veins and Venous Reflux Disease
Varicose veins can cause unsightly legs, leg pain and swelling, and are caused by venous reflux disease. Healthy leg veins contain valves that open and close to assist in the return of blood back to the heart.
In venous reflux disease, the valves do not close properly, allowing blood to flow in reverse and pool in the leg veins. This causes the superficial veins to swell and bulge resulting in unsightly varicose veins, leg swelling, pain and fatigue. Without treatment, venous reflux disease can eventually cause dangerous ulcers.
Elevating the legs and wearing compression stockings can offer temporary relief of some symptoms, but does not fix the underlying problem. Early treatment may prevent later complications.
Endovenous ablation can provide a permanent solution to the cause and symptoms of venous reflux disease. Under local anesthetic, a small catheter is inserted into the saphenous vein, a superficial branch of the larger, deeper femoral vein. Through the inserted catheter, energy is applied to the vein wall, which causes the vein walls to come together and close. Once the vein is closed, blood is re-routed to healthy veins. Upon completion of the procedure, which takes about 30 minutes, a simple bandage is applied, and the leg is gently wrapped in dressings. Patients are instructed to wear compression stockings for seven days. Patients typically return to daily activities almost immediately. A follow-up visit is then scheduled for three days after the procedure, to check for any complications and to verify that the vein remains closed.
The procedure can be done safely in an outpatient office, and is usually covered by most major insurance companies. About 95% of patients remain free of varicose veins over the long term, according to medical data. To reduce the risk of complications, the procedure is best performed by a physician who has formal training in endovenous techniques. If you are experiencing any symptoms of venous reflux disease or have unsightly, swollen varicose veins, talk to your primary care physician about a referral to a vein specialist.