Varicose Veins

Treating Cardiovascular Diseases in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois

Varicose veins occur when vein walls weaken and stretch, which allows blood to back up and pool. Most people are familiar with these visible and sometimes bulging veins, which usually occur in the legs.

There are several varicose veins treatment options that help alleviate the pain, discomfort and cosmetic concerns related to varicose veins.

Varicose Veins Symptoms

Many people have varicose veins that go untreated. Often those with this condition see their doctor only when any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Blood clot formation in the swollen vein
  • Itchiness
  • Leg pain, which may involve mild soreness, achiness, heaviness or significant pain and cramping
  • Leg swelling 
  • Leg wounds that have trouble healing
  • Skin discoloration

Risks and Causes of Varicose Veins 

Varicose veins are more common in women, and the incidence increases with age. By age 70, 75 percent of all women have varicose veins, and 50 percent of all men have them. Other varicose veins causes include:

  • Abdominal pressure, especially from tight abdominal clothing, such undergarments, or constipation
  • Exposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Heredity
  • History of blood clots 
  • Hormone replacement therapy or birth control medication
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged standing, especially for those whose jobs require standing

Diagnosing Varicose Veins

Your physician will perform a physical exam and obtain your medical history to get a good understanding of your symptoms. If your doctor is concerned you might have a clot in your leg or wants to get a better look at the blood flow in your legs, a noninvasive ultrasound test or angiogram may be performed.

Varicose Veins Treatment

As with many conditions, there are steps you can take to reduce the development or severity of varicose veins. These include:

  • Avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods without taking breaks
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing around your abdomen and upper legs
  • Avoid wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time
  • Elevate your legs when sitting or sleeping
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Maintain a regular exercise plan to tone and strengthen your leg muscles
  • Wear compression stockings

When more aggressive treatment is necessary, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following procedures:

  • Ambulatory phlebectomy is a surgical procedure that removes veins close to the surface of the skin. It is performed with a local anesthetic.
  • Endoscopic vein surgery is performed through a catheter using a surgical device on the end of a tiny camera to close the vein. This procedure is usually used in severe cases when varicose veins are causing skin ulcers.
  • Endovenous ablation therapy uses heat from lasers or radio waves to close off varicose veins. Doctors insert a device through a catheter that heats up the inside of the vein and closes it off.
  • Laser surgery uses light energy to make veins fade away. This approach is typically used to treat smaller varicose veins.
  • Sclerotherapy involves injections of concentrated salt solutions into the affected veins, which causes them to collapse and eventually disappear. This forces blood flow to shift to nearby healthy veins. Often several sessions are required, scheduled four to six weeks apart.
  • Vein stripping and ligation are two procedures that are performed at the same time. Ligation refers to the surgical tying of veins through a small incision in the skin to prevent pooling of blood. Stripping refers to the removal of the vein. In many instances, the vein is removed using minimally surgical procedure caused venous ablation. Learn more about vein ligation and stripping.

Find a Doctor for Varicose Vein Treatment

Aurora Health Care offers a multidisciplinary team approach for treating varicose veins and other vascular conditions. Our team includes vascular medicine specialists, vascular surgeons, wound care specialists and podiatrists all under one roof.

Aurora doctors are conveniently located throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Find a doctor or heart specialist near you. To get a second opinion or if you need assistance finding a provider, please call 888-649-6892.