In order for Dr. Leary to determine the cause and appropriate treatment of varicose veins, he will use a non-invasive ultrasound, which will help assist in evaluating the veins that are not visible on the surface of the skin and help decide the best treatment plan for a patient with varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
To understand the causes of varicose veins, it is essential to review the primary function of veins and their basic physiology.
Remember, the heart pumps blood to supply oxygen and other nutrients to the entire body, so the heart pumps blood from the heart to the body parts. The veins carry the used blood or deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
The blood that is pumped back to the heart flows in these veins that act like one-way valves that keep the blood flowing toward the heart. In the legs, the calf muscle or musculovenous pump ejects 60% of the blood every time the calf muscle contracts. The calf muscle is the primary mechanism that returns blood from the legs back to the heart.
The veins returning blood from the legs have the toughest job of all the veins in the body because of the high pressure created by standing and the distance the blood has to be returned, and because of the force of gravity. This makes the leg veins the primary location of varicose veins and spider veins.
Without the correct blood flow, the blood reverses its flow and causes the valves to close improperly. When a valve fails to close correctly, it can cause a vein to swell, become painful, and bulging varicose veins. Increased pressure to the vein can cause a person’s legs or ankles to swell and to have severe pain and aching.
Heredity has a strong association with your chances of developing venous disease. If both parents have venous disease, you will have about a ninety percent chance to have the same. If you are female and have one parent with venous disease, you have about a sixty percent chance of developing varicose veins.
If you are male with one parent affected, your chances are about twenty-five percent. So women have more venous disease than men, but men that are affected normally have more serious complications such as ulcers.
What Are the Best Treatments for Varicose Veins?
We offer many different varicose vein treatments at our practice that can be used depending on your unique needs. These procedures are extremely safe and effective procedures. There are risks, as no procedure is risk-free.
Every procedure is tailored to the particular needs of the patient. Some patients will be better candidates for laser, while some may be better candidates for radio frequency. Dr. Leary will discuss and recommend which of these options he feels is best for each individual patient.
Here is a list of our varicose vein treatments:
Endovenous Laser Ablation
Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) is a minimally invasive, more desirable alternative for treating painful, unsightly varicose veins. With a 98% effective rate, varicose veins can be removed in the office, and the procedure allows patients to return to normal activity immediately.
Venefit, powered by radiofrequency, delivers heat to the vein wall. As the thermal energy is delivered, the vein wall shrinks and the vein is sealed closed. This method is also very gentle with very little post-operational pain.
Sclerotherapy is considered the gold standard of varicose vein treatments. The treatment generally consists of injecting the veins with a substance to absorb the vein without any other damage to the body. There are many different variations of sclerotherapy that can be performed to improve the likelihood of success, such as foam, cryo or ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy with Nitrous Oxide
To keep patients comfortable, the use of nitrous oxide has been introduced in many sclerotherapy procedures. It provides the patient with a more relaxing experience. We have received an abundance of positive feedback since adding this as an option for people who are nervous about the procedure.
If your vein concerns are pointed primarily at your hands, then we offer hand sclerotherapy to help reduce the size of large, bulging veins. Huge improvements can be made in as little as one or two treatments.
The FDA approved Varithena in 2013. It is unique to other procedures in that it uses a foam substance to cut off the blood supply to a vein, effectively killing it and causing the blood to reroute to a different, healthier vein. It is used primarily in the legs and is considered to be an extremely safe treatment.
How Much Does It Cost to Have Varicose Veins Treated?
The price of your varicose vein treatment will depend on the kind of procedure you are having performed. Your cost could range anywhere from $500 and $1,500 based on your specific goals, conditions, procedure and the amount of needed correction.
During your consultation, we will be able to give you a very clear idea of what kind of financial and time investment you will need to make to have the treatment performed. In some cases where the need is considered medically necessary, the procedure may be covered by insurance.
What Kind of Recovery Can I Expect from Varicose Vein Treatment?
Most varicose vein treatments are minimally invasive and will not require an extensive amount of recovery or downtime. Usually, patients will need one to two weeks to recover, but some treatments may require between three and four if the condition is severe.
Regardless of what procedure you have performed, you can expect to experience minor pain, redness, swelling, discomfort or soreness at the treatment area. This is normal and can be easily managed by over-the-counter or prescription medication.
How Can I Prevent Varicose Veins?
Choose low-impact activities such as walking, cycling, rowing and swimming. Walking and jogging will help improve circulation in the legs. Exercise can also reduce the overall high blood pressure and strengthen the entire circulatory system.
Avoid Prolonged Standing
Try not to stand in one place for a long time because it can increase venous pressure in the legs and feet. Over time this pressure can weaken the blood vessel walls.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Having too much weight can cause the entire circulatory system to work harder. Being overweight can put excess pressure on your legs. It is good to exercise regularly and develop healthy eating habits. This can reduce the risk of varicose veins.
Smoking is terrible for your health and can cause many health problems. High blood pressure is associated with smoking which can cause varicose veins.
Raise Your Legs
If you have to stand up for long periods, remember to take time to relax your legs. Improve circulation by elevating your legs up six to 12 inches above your heart when lying down. Doing this a few times a day will help the blood in the lower legs flow easily back to the heart. By taking some pressure off the legs, it will help prevent blood from pooling in the veins. Be sure to stretch your legs if you have to sit for long periods. Rotate your ankles and flex your toes while you are sitting.
Check Your Wardrobe
Wear clothes that don’t constrict your waist, groin or legs. Avoiding tight-fitting clothes on your legs and around your waist will improve circulation to your lower body. Wear comfortable shoes and avoid wearing high heels. The stress they put on your lower legs can cause a constriction in blood flow from the leg back to the heart. Also, make sure your shoes are properly fitted.
Sit Up and Stand Straight
Sit up straight and don’t cross your legs. Crossing your legs will slow the upward flow of blood back to the heart and increase the pressure on the insides of the leg veins. Good posture improves circulation and helps decrease pressure in your veins.
Avoid High-Estrogen Birth Control Pills
Long-term use of high-estrogen birth control pills has been shown to increase the risk of varicose veins by altering circulatory valve functioning.
Wear Compression Hose
If you’re developing varicose veins, try regularly using a compression hose (support hose). These come in a variety of different compressions. The pressure in the stockings is graded, allowing the stockings to constantly squeeze the leg muscles. This motion helps to drive blood back to the heart, reduce swelling in the feet and prevent blood clot formation.
Why Dr. Leary?
Dr. Leary has a wealth of experience, education and expertise on venous concerns. He and his practice use only cutting-edge technology and techniques to ensure his patients the highest quality care possible.
- American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine
- American Board of Emergency Medicine
Professional Memberships and Accreditations
- Member, American College of Phlebology
- Diplomate, American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine
- Member, American Venous Forum
- Member, American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery
- Member, American Board of Emergency Medicine
- Fellow, American Board of Emergency Medicine
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Insurance Pay for Varicose Vein Treatment?
Most insurances will cover varicose vein treatment if it is considered medically necessary and not just being performed for cosmetic reasons. To know for sure, you will need to contact your insurance provider or schedule a consultation with our office to start working on the process.
What Is Deep-Vein Thrombosis?
In the United States, about 2 million people per year develop deep vein thrombosis. Most of them are aged 40 years or older. Up to 600,000 are hospitalized each year for the condition. Deep vein thrombosis can lead to more severe complications like blood clots in the lung (pulmonary embolism).
I have many patients come to my office for the first time with phlebitis of the superficial veins. This is a condition that is rarely life-threatening and relatively common in patients with varicose veins. My concern is that many patients referred to my office have already been seen and diagnosed by their physician, and in my opinion, have not been properly diagnosed.
Good News About DVT Prevention
Statin drugs are used for cholesterol-lowering and have been proven to reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular events like fatal heart attacks and strokes. Statin drugs work by reducing the total cholesterol levels in the blood.
They work by blocking the key enzyme required by the body to produce cholesterol. Action statins can reduce inflammation throughout the body. This reduction in the body’s inflammation may even reduce the risk of some cancers.
What Are the Risks of Varicose Vein Treatment?
Severe complications are extremely rare and unlikely. Endovenous procedures are minimally invasive and have much less chance of thrombosis when compared to older methods such as vein stripping. Endovenous ablation allows for safer, less expensive and superior cosmetic results.
Patients considering treatments should consult with a highly trained phlebologist who is familiar with all aspects of vein disease. Board certification in Phlebology is preferred. Phlebology is the specialty of venous disease. At California Vein Specialists, Dr. Michael Leary is board certified in phlebology and is a National Training Physician, training other Doctors from all over the US.
Varicose Veins Myths
There is a lot of misinformation available online and a lot of old tales about varicose veins. Here are some popular myths that get a lot of attention and whether or not they are true:
- “Men do not get varicose veins.” False. Men are less likely to develop varicose veins but it is still possible.
- “Pregnancy causes varicose veins.” False. There is no association between the two.
- “Tattoos are bad for varicose veins.” False. There is no evidence to support this assumption.
- “Hard surfaces cause varicose veins.” False. There is no evidence to show a correlation between working or laying on hard surfaces and the development of varicose veins.
- “There are home remedies for varicose veins.” False. There is little to no scientific backing showing support for home therapies or most creams.
- “Crossing your legs causes varicose veins.” False. Cross all you want, it will not increase your chances of developing varicose veins. Just make sure you aren’t cutting off circulation.
- “If your parents had varicose veins, you will too.” Somewhat true. You are more likely to have varicose veins if you inherited the disposition from your parents, but it is always a dice roll like any other inherited trait.
Real Patient Testimonials
“I had large, bulbous veins on the front of my legs where they were very noticeable. I like to wear shorts, and I’m very athletic. I run, I go to the gym, and the vein was right in front where I would always see it. I liked the idea of not having surgery and just having a procedure where it could be injected. That was a big plus for me. I exercised every day, and I had no downtime. I had to wear a compression stocking but was able to exercise right away. I am very pleased with the results. I wear shorts and dresses and no longer feel self-conscious.”
“I am so pleased with how my legs look and feel! Over the past 20 years, I have had various types of treatments in several cities for my varicose veins, and Dr. Leary is the best. Never have I seen such noticeable improvement in such little time. Dr. Leary and your entire staff are caring and professional. You were recommended to me, and now I see why. I will definitely be recommending you to others!”
“This is not the procedure my grandmother had! Had I known it was going to be this easy, I would have done it sooner.”