There’s a prevalent myth about varicose veins – only grandmas have them.
These gnarled, knotted, deep blue veins are often associated with older ladies, but the truth is young and middle aged people can and do can get them. When someone has varicose veins, the veins don’t work as they should. Blood subsequently pools in the lower legs and feet. Symptoms may include heavy, tired, or achy legs and, in severe cases, skin discoloration.
The good news is that they’re very easy to evaluate and treat nowadays. What used to require a surgery and prolonged recovery to strip the veins now is often an in-office procedure. Modern treatments are minimally invasive effective and durable, according to Dr. Christopher Bolus, Chief of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at Beverly Hospital and vein specialist at the Beverly Hospital Vein Program located at Lahey Outpatient Center, Danvers.
“Treatments for varicose veins have come a long way in the last few years,” Dr. Bolus said.
“We think it makes good sense to treat varicose veins in the earlier stages and certainly if they are symptomatic,” said Dr. Neil Denbow, an Interventional Radiologist and Medical Director of the Beverly Hospital Vein Program.
So, why not do it when you first start to notice them? If you’re starting to see the beginnings of varicose veins, or close cousin spider veins, it may be worth a trip to a vein center.
If you see the beginnings of varicose veins, below are four things you may want to know about them.
- They’re very common. Varicose veins affect about 1 in 4 people in America. Women get them about twice as much as men, with about 22 million women affected every year compared to 11 million men.
- The exact cause of varicose veins is unknown but genetics and environmental factors that involve standing for long periods of time play important roles. The vein’s valves normally act as a one-way flap, but sometimes blood can sneak to the other side if the valves are weak or don’t work correctly, blood then flows incorrectly and pressure builds. This causes the vein’s walls to weaken and grow larger and varicose veins form to relieve the pressure on the system.
- A specialized doctor can diagnose and generate a treatment plan for the condition. A doctor or nurse will look at your legs while you’re standing. In many cases, an ultrasound is then used to accurately diagnose the problem and subsequently generate a treatment plan, occasionally additional testing with CT or MRI is required.
- There are minimally invasive technologically advanced durable treatment options now. Years ago, the most common procedure to get rid of varicose veins was a surgery called stripping. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. There are a few options doctors have that can treat the condition. One treatment is called Endovenous Thermal ablation, which uses a catheter to close the improperly functioning vein. You have plenty of veins so closing the non-functional ones is not an issue. Other options are sclerotherapy and ambulatory phlebotomy. Sclerotherapy uses a solution of foam to the abnormal veins which then close down. Ambulatory phlebectomy uses tiny incisions allowing for removal of large bulging veins.
The Vein Health Clinic at Lahey Outpatient Center in Danvers will offer free vein screenings from 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the month of November at 480 Maple Street in Danvers. To schedule a free screening in Danvers, please call 978.816.2988.
Lahey Vascular Surgery in Beverly will offer free screenings from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM on Thursday, November 29th at 500 Cummings Center, Suite 1650 in Beverly. To schedule a free screening in Beverly, please call 978.232.3555.