Condition: Varicose veins
To return blood back into the heart against gravity, the valves in the veins of the lower leg must pump properly. When these valves become weak and fail to close as they should, blood flow is decreased. The pooling of blood in the veins causes veins to become visible or bulge through the skin. In serious cases, the legs may itch, become swollen, and vessels may burst and bleed. In milder cases, webs of spider veins form under the skin, sometimes worsening in certain areas such as the ankles where there may be more pooling of blood.
Varicose veins can cause cosmetic concerns due to protruding, ropelike purple bulges in the skin or visible spider veins. The condition could signal an increased risk of circulatory problems. Common symptoms include
- aching leg pain
- heaviness and fatigue in the legs
- muscle cramping and swelling of the lower legs
- skin ulcers around the ankles
- itching around the veins
Minimally invasive procedure: vein ablation
There are a number of procedures that have been used over the years to treat varicose veins, from pulling targeted large veins out of the leg, to injecting select veins with a solution that causes them to close.
Lutheran General Hospital interventional radiologists perform a minimally invasive outpatient procedure using image guidance to reduce varicose veins. Vein ablation is a procedure that uses laser or radiofrequency energy applied to the vein, heating it and causing it to seal shut. This procedure allows healthy veins to take over the work of sending blood up through the leg against gravity.
Vein ablation treatment usually takes an hour or less, and patients may return to their normal activities.
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