Most people with varicose veins are embarrassed to wear shorts, and swimsuits because of bulging discolored leg veins, but the problem of varicose veins goes beyond the cosmetic issues. Superficial venous reflux disease, the condition that often causes varicose veins, can cause tired aching legs, pain, and leg ulcerations. Some people are forced to decrease activity that requires prolonged standing and walking because of leg pain that worsen through the day.
Risk factors for varicose veins are a positive family history and female gender however; males do suffer with varicose veins also. Other risk factors include pregnancy, older age, obesity, and prolonged standing.
All normal leg veins have one-way valves that keep blood flowing in an upward (toward the heart) direction. Varicose veins happen when the one-way valves malfunction and allow the blood to flow backward; this backward flow of blood is called superficial venous reflux. Damaged leg valves allow blood to leak backward through the valves and cause distention of the superficial veins (just under the skin) resulting in bulging, large blue veins. Untreated varicose veins can become severe causing painful leg sores that are difficult to heal, darkening of the skin (hyper-pigmentation), dry scaly skin and heavy swollen legs.
Until the last few years, the only treatment for varicose veins was vein stripping. Vein stripping, a painful hospital-based procedure was often performed by vascular surgeons. Patients feared the procedure because they were subject to general anesthesia and a painful post-operative recovery time that was a much as two weeks.
Fortunately, there are less invasive procedures which close the diseased veins. The closure® procedure is a minimally-invasive treatment alternative for symptomatic venous disease. The Closure ® procedure is performed in the surgeon’s office and takes a little more than 45 minutes to complete. Best of all, no general anesthesia is used therefore; the patient can walk in the office and walk out after the procedure without being drowsy as only local anesthesia and saline is used for the VNUS Closure®. There is no Post-operative recovery time and patients can go to work the day after the procedure.
The VNUS Procedure® referred to as radiofrequency ablation, is used to close the great saphenous and any branches of the saphenous vein if needed. During the procedure, a local anesthetic is used to numb the area to be treated. A catheter is then threaded through the diseased vein from a distant site. Activation of radiant energy through the catheter heats the wall of the vein which causes it to close. When the procedure is complete, the leg is wrapped with a compression bandage that is to stay intact for the next couple of days. Ultra sound confirmation of vein closure is done two days after the procedure and again at two weeks to assure the vein is closed. Micro phlebectomy (vein removal) and sclerotherapy can then be performed to get rid of unsightly, varicose and spider veins.
An alternative to the closure® procedure is the laser procedure which is slightly different from the closure® in that it uses a laser to close the diseased vein. Patients who have the laser procedure have reported slightly more bruising and pain when compared to the closure® procedure. In this practice the laser procedure is available, but it is usually reserved for patients with excessively large saphenous veins that have failed the VNUS Closure® Procedure.
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