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Best Treatment for Varicose Veins: Home and Surgical Options

Best Treatment for Varicose Veins: Home and Surgical Options

Varicose veins may leave many people feeling too insecure to show off their legs. While spider and varicose veins are harmless, most people would like to live without them. What is the best treatment for varicose veins? Learn more about varicose veins and the available options today.

Why Do We Get Varicose and Spider Veins?

Before getting into the treatment options, let’s talk about the causes of varicose and spider veins. First, veins are blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Arteries are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the other parts of the body. Although arteries and veins have the same function, they actually have different structures. Arteries are more muscular and have thicker walls. On the other hand, veins are collapsible, have a wider diameter, and contain valves. These valves are important to prevent backflow of blood (venous reflux) due to gravity.

Varicose veins are distended or swollen veins, typically seen in the legs. They usually appear as bluish-colored, branching bulges and can feel uncomfortable. Spider veins appear near the surface of the skin and tend to be red to blue and flat. Additionally, varicose veins can branch out and create spider veins.

Varicose veins happen when blood pools and increases pressure in the veins. This pooling happens when the valves are weakened, allowing backflow. Some causes and risk factors of varicose veins include:

  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Having flat feet or low arches
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes
  • Crossing your legs while sitting
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Pregnancy
  • Older age
  • Being female (males can still get varicose veins)
  • Menopause
  • Estrogen exposure (e.g. oral contraceptives)
  • Other people in your family have varicose veins

Best Treatment for Varicose Veins

Best Treatment for Varicose Veins

At-home and self-care tips

As previously mentioned, varicose veins and spider veins form when the valves become weak and blood accumulates in the veins. The same with many conditions, prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, there are no remedies or medications you can take at home to get rid of varicose veins once they appear.

Firstly, check if you have any risk factors or family history of varicose veins. Avoid these factors when you can. However, if your job requires you to stand for most of your shift, be sure to pace or walk around from time to time. This prevents pooling of blood in the legs by contracting your leg muscles. Opt for more comfortable shoes that support your arches instead of high heels. When you get home, try elevating your legs to relieve pressure.

Next, compression socks and stockings can help prevent varicose veins from forming. These work by adding pressure outside of the veins which promotes normal blood flow instead of backflow.

Lastly, maintaining a healthy BMI and doing regular exercises prevent varicose vein formation. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging and strength-training exercises like squats and lunges strengthen the muscles of the legs and maintain a healthy circulation.

Best Treatment for Varicose Veins

Surgery and Less Invasive Procedures

The best treatment for varicose veins depends on your personal history and severity of varicosity. There are several effective procedures that are currently available.

Sclerotherapy

The best treatment for varicose veins that are still small is a procedure called sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a special solution (sclerosant) into the affected veins. The solution causes the enlarged veins to collapse and scar, which will be healed naturally by the body afterward. An ultrasound device is also used during the procedure to guide the doctor. It takes 2 to 3 sessions of sclerotherapy to see full results.

In addition, larger varicose veins can be treated with foam sclerotherapy. Instead of the usual liquid solution, a jet of air is added which creates a foam within the vein. This has a similar effect as regular sclerotherapy but is more effective on larger veins. The procedure is relatively painless, although some patients experience some stinging or discomfort after the injection.

Non-invasive treatments

Other treatment options for both varicose veins and spider veins are laser and radiofrequency treatments. These are non-invasive so they are generally safe and less nerve-wracking for most people. Other benefits of non-invasive therapies are that it is relatively quick, has fewer complications, and has little to no downtime. In fact, many people are able to continue with their normal activities the day after the procedure.

Examples of laser treatments include endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Both use machines that direct light or currents over the areas with varicose veins. Although they do not enter the skin, the energy from these devices destroy the veins from within. EVLT is suitable for smaller varicose veins and spider veins, while RFA is better for larger varicose veins.

Vein stripping and ligation

Surgery is the best treatment for varicose veins that are very large, have clots, or do not go away with other treatments. Vein stripping involves incising the skin and removing the varicose vein tributaries from their main vein (usually the great saphenous vein in the leg). Ligation involves tying parts of the vein to make it easier to pull or strip out.

This procedure may take up to 2 hours and you will be given either general or spinal anesthesia so you won’t feel a thing. You will need to wear bandages and compression stockings for some time after the surgery. Unlike other procedures, several sessions are not necessary unless new varicose veins appear in the future.

Key Takeaways

In summary, the best treatment for varicose veins is not limited to surgery. Nowadays, doctors and patients prefer non-invasive or minimally-invasive procedures such as laser or sclerotherapy. Additionally, there are several things you can do at home to reduce your risk of developing varicose veins and spider veins.

Learn more about Other Cardiovascular Issues here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Varicose Veins https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/varicose-veins Accessed April 6, 2021

Varicose veins https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/varicose-veins/ Accessed April 6, 2021

LEG VEINS: WHY THEY APPEAR AND HOW DERMATOLOGISTS TREAT THEM https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/younger-looking/how-dermatologists-treat-leg-veins Accessed April 6, 2021

5 NATURAL CURES FOR VARICOSE VEINS https://niveinclinic.com/5-natural-cures-for-varicose-veins/ Accessed April 6, 2021

Varicose Veins – Injection Treatment or Sclerotherapy https://www.circulationfoundation.org.uk/help-advice/veins/varicose-veins-injection-treatment-or-sclerotherapy Accessed April 6, 2021

Varicose vein stripping https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/surgery/varicose-vein-stripping Accessed April 6, 2021

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Apr 20
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