Varicose veins are visible, enlarged, bulging veins that affect the legs. Varicose veins differ from spider veins in that they are larger and deeper. They develop because of blood pooling in the veins, a consequence of gravity and underlying vein valve dysfunction.
An astonishing number of Americans have some form of leg vein disease. In fact, at least 1 in 3 adult Americans have either spider or varicose veins. Each year in the US, there are about 4-5 million outpatient visits for the evaluation of leg vein problems. Overall, chronic venous disease has been estimated to account for up to 3 percent of the total health care budget in developed countries.
While varicose veins may be of a primarily cosmetic concern, many people experience significant symptoms that impact their daily quality of life. Even many physicians are unaware of the impact of leg vein disease on a person’s quality of life and unaware of the ease and success of modern treatments. Fortunately, major advances have been made in diagnosis and treatment. Surgical stripping is virtually never required anymore. Minimally invasive treatment is now an effective option even for those with advanced vein disorders.
It is a myth that varicose veins are only of cosmetic significance. Varicose veins commonly cause significant symptoms such as pain, heaviness or fatigue of the leg, itching, swelling, cramps and restless leg syndrome. Many patients complain about how badly their legs feel when standing to cook dinner for the family or when traveling on a long flight or car ride. Although their legs feel better when they elevate their legs, it is very difficult to live life in this position. Compression stockings can also reduce discomfort, but it’s tough to wear hose on a daily basis, especially in a hot climate like we have most of the year in Central Texas.
When advanced, varicose veins can cause eczema, skin inflammation and venous ulcers, which are serious non-healing sores of the lower leg. There have even been reports of people dying from veins that rupture and bleed. I have seen patients who have experienced spontaneous bleeding. One young man traveled from the Philippines when adequate treatment for bleeding veins in both legs was unavailable locally. So, given all this, it’s not surprising that multiple studies have found important reductions in quality of life in relation to pain, physical function, and mobility in patients with vein disease.
No singular cause has been determined for varicose veins, but several factors can increase the chance of developing them:
- Being female
- Standing occupation
- Leg injury
In most patients with bulging varicose veins, and in some patients with just spider veins, the root of the problem is a vein below the surface. Because of this, we always perform a duplex ultrasound evaluation before treatment of varicose veins. Using the duplex ultrasound machine to evaluate the veins below the surface, we’re able to identify the veins that require vein treatment. Using the results of the ultrasound exam, along with your medical history and physical examination, we develop a treatment plan tailored to your particular condition.
Benefits of the Duplex Ultrasound Vein Evaluation:
- Provides important information which I use to determine the best treatment options
- Determines the size of veins and how the veins are connected
- Evaluates blood movement to identify faulty valves
- Can visualize clots that have formed in veins
I use a variety of state-of-the-art techniques to treat vein disorders:
- SCLEROTHERAPY is the injection of medication into a vein, which causes the vein to shrink. A treatment takes about 20 minutes.
- ULTRASOUND-GUIDED SCLEROTHERAPY is the injection of medication into a vein that is below the skin, and thus not visible without the aid of an ultrasound machine. This treatment is done under local anesthesia and takes about 10 minutes.
- AMBULATORY PHLEBECTOMY is a method of removing varicose veins using tiny punctures in the skin through which problem veins are extracted. Suturing is unnecessary and usually there is no visible scar. Most procedures take about an hour.
- ENDOVENOUS LASER TREATMENT delivers pulses of laser light directly inside the vein, which causes the vein to collapse and seal shut. It is remarkably effective. The procedure is done in our office under local anesthesia.
- COMPRESSION STOCKINGS apply graduated pressure to the leg from the ankle up. This helps the blood return to the heart, which reduces congestion in the leg veins.
Dr. Steven Zimmet has been practicing in Austin, Texas for over 30 years. He is a sought-after cosmetic dermatologist and a world-renowned expert in vein care. Dr. Zimmet has been named by his peers as one of the Best Doctors in America for dermatology/phlebology. Vein Magazine named Dr. Zimmet as one of the 25 most influential professionals in vein care worldwide. As the Founding President of the American Board of Phlebology, Past-President of the American College of Phlebology and Editor of the Phlebology Journal, Dr. Zimmet travels the world to share his expertise in vein treatment. At Zimmet Vein & Dermatology, Dr. Zimmet also offers an array of aesthetic services, including Ultherapy, CoolSculpting, Liposonix, Pulsed Light Rejuvenation, EndyMed, Botox and fillers. Dr. Zimmet’s mission is to help his patients achieve optimal results through clear information, thorough guidance and clinically advanced treatments.
Call (512) 861-8901 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Zimmet. Mention CultureMap for an exclusive 15% discount on the procedures mentioned in this article.