Cardiac & VascularCardiac and VascularOur Centers

Varicose Veins/Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red, or flesh colored and they develop when the valves of the veins become damaged. They are often raised above the skin on legs and look like twisted, bulging cords. They can also be associated with pain, aches, heaviness, restless legs, or burning and itching of the skin.

 

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Veins have one way valves to channel blood back to the heart. Varicose veins develop when the valves of the veins become damaged. This causes blood to pool in the veins, enlarging them and often making the veins just beneath the skin visible.

Risk Factors

Varicose veins are more common in women who are of childbearing age and older. Other factors that increase your chance of getting varicose veins include:

  • Family members with varicose veins
  • Hormonal changes, as with puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
  • Pressure on the veins of the pelvis, as with pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Job that requires you to sit or stand for long periods of time without much movement
  • Smoking

Symptoms

  • Enlarged, twisted, and swollen veins that are visible through the skin
  • Achy, tired, heavy feeling in the area of the varicose veins or generally in the legs, especially after standing
  • Leg cramps
  • Burning or throbbing pain in the legs
  • Itching
  • Swollen legs

In severe cases, varicose veins may cause skin changes. These changes occur under the area of the varicose veins and include:

  • Rashes
  • Discoloration
  • Sores that are difficult to heal

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Varicose veins can be easily seen. An ultrasound exam of your legs may also be done.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include one or more of the following:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Conservative treatment is tried first to relieve symptoms. Steps may include:
    • Avoid standing for long periods of time
    • Rest with your legs elevated
    • Flex legs occasionally when standing or sitting for long periods
    • Wear compression stockings

Treatments Offered at the Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery

The following procedures are offered for the treatment of varicose veins/chronic venous insufficiency depending on a patient’s diagnosis:

  • Endovenous Thermal Ablation. Endovenous thermal ablation is a minimally invasive treatment that involves the insertion of a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a diseased vein and uses heat to seal it shut. Blood that would normally return toward the heart through these veins will then travel through other veins instead. Over time the treated vein shrinks and is absorbed by the body. Compared with surgical options like vein stripping, endovenous thermal ablation results in less pain and quicker average recovery time.
  • Vein Stripping. To perform vein stripping, a small incision is made in the groin area and usually another incision is made in the calf below the knee. Then a physician disconnects and ties off all major varicose vein branches associated with the saphenous vein, the main superficial vein in your leg. Then the saphenous vein is removed from the leg.
  • Stab Phlebectomy. This procedure, also called ambulatory phlebectomy, can be done alone or together with vein stripping. Stab phlebectomy allows a physician to remove individual varicose vein clusters from the leg using hooks passed through small incisions. Because the incisions are so small, they don’t require stitches, there is very little pain and a shorter recovery period.

Prevention

Varicose veins can't be completely prevented, especially if they run in your family. The following recommendations may help:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Try to avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Try to avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time while sitting
  • Keep your legs elevated when resting
  • Consider wearing support hose

Meet with one of our
doctors within 24 hours

request an appointment

Or call 1-800-488-5959

Our Team

At the Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, every patient meets with one of our highly skilled, board-certified surgeons.

Conditions and Treatments

Vascular disease comes in many different forms and our world class surgeons are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide-spectrum of vascular diseases

Cosmetic Vein Center

St. Elizabeth’s Cosmetic Vein Center offers both cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of varicose veins and spider veins. 

Vascular Lab

The Vascular Lab provides many types of testing and diagnostic services to help diagnosis a variety of vascular diseases.

Patient Stories

Many patients who come to the Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at St. Elizabeth's have a story to share about their care, recovery, and success after surgery or other treatments.

Contact Us

Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
736 Cambridge Street
Brighton, MA 02135
617-779-6504

Connect with Steward

Visit Our Twitter Feed Visit Our Facebook Page Visit Our YouTube Channel Email This Page Print This Page

Subscribe to our patient e-newsletter

Copyright © 2014 Steward Health Care
Connect Healthcare Panacea CMS Solutions