HOW DO THEY FEEL

Varicose veins can cause pain, swelling, aching, and weakness in our legs.  They can even cause restless legs.  If left untreated over time the veins tend to become larger and cause more symptoms.  They can also lead to problems with skin especially around the ankles.  The skin can have sores or ulcers, and sometimes bleeding can occur.  It used to be felt that varicose veins were just a cosmetic problem, but they are a real medical disease with symptoms and possible complications.

If you have either visible veins or symptoms associated with varicose veins, you should have an evaluation from a physician that treats varicose veins.  At Glacier Surgical Associates, we will see patients without a referral for varicose veins.  At the visit, we will discuss what symptoms you are having and examine your legs.  Usually, an ultrasound is performed at the office by an ultrasound tech that is trained in looking for bad veins.  The ultrasound gives a road map of what veins need to be treated and the best way to treat them.  

Treatments for Varicose Veins

Treatments for varicose veins is normally covered by insurance, however they do have some requirements for coverage.  First is the veins need to be causing symptoms such as pain.  Most insurance will expect that you have had conservative treatment, which means wearing compression stockings.  These are socks that help push the blood in the right directions.  They now come in multiple styles and colors!  We will usually give you a prescription at your first visit to start wearing them.  Finally, an ultrasound that shows the valves are not working is needed.

The main treatment for varicose veins is called an ablation.  This is done in the office and has almost no recovery time.  During the treatment the vein will have an IV placed into it that a catheter can go through.  The catheter will heat the vein to close it.  The blood will then reroute to the other veins in the leg that are still working.  This makes the varicose veins shrink in size and go away.  Most patients have their symptoms go away immediately.

Sometimes we need to do additional treatments to the bulging veins such as sclerotherapy.   This involves injecting a medicine into the vein to close it. This is also done in the office and is a quick treatment with minimal discomfort.

For smaller veins, like spider veins, we can do injections and laser treatments.  Lasers send pulses of light into the veins to close them off.  The veins then fade away over time.  The laser feels like a small flick with a rubber band.  The treatments usually take 15 to 30 min.  It can take several treatments to completely treat an area.

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