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Varicose Veins: Not Just A Cosmetic Issue

Varicose veins, abnormally enlarged, distended, veins that appear on the legs as ropy, twisted skin bulges, are easy to spot; which is why patients want them to disappear. They affect one in two persons and can be a major issue causing tired legs, bulging veins, ulcers, and burning sensations. And still many people usually tend to dismiss it as a cosmetic problem.

If they are close to the surface of the skin, or if the patient has pale skin, they are noticeably blue in color.  The smaller, fine blue veins patients see on their legs are commonly referred to as “spider veins;” both can be a sign of an underlying problem with the veins in the legs, known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Left untreated, varicose veins can lead to venous hypertension, venous ulcerations that require routine wound care and brownish discoloration around the bottom of the legs.

About varicose veins
Varicose veins are slightly protruding cords beneath the skin caused by blood pooling inside veins that have non-working valves. In a healthy vein, both muscles around the vein and the valve within the vein work to push blood back up to the heart. In a varicose vein, the valve stops working properly, and the blood that gets stuck causes the vein to bulge and twist.

Varicose veins can be deep or superficial. Generally, superficial veins are the most visible because they are near the surface of the skin. Deep varicose veins may not be visible to most people but can lead to more serious medical conditions such as blood clots.

Main symptoms include heavy and uncomfortable legs after standing for an extended period of time, swollen feet and ankles, burning or throbbing legs or feet, muscle cramps in legs (particularly at night) and dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected areas. Symptoms tend to be worse in warmer weather and contrary to popular belief, both varicose and spider veins can occur in women or men.

Causes of varicose veins
Obesity
Pregnancy, due to weight gain
Standing or sitting for extended periods of time
Heredity
If you want to eliminate the appearance of varicose or spider veins for medical or cosmetic reasons, sclerotherapy might be a good option for you.
About Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is the gold standard in spider vein treatment and has been successfully used since the 1930s. The procedure involves an injection, generally a salt or irritating solution, given directly into the desired treatment area. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to swell and stick together and the blood to clot. As a result, over the next few weeks or months, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades over time.

Sclerotherapy is an outpatient procedure typically performed in an experienced podiatrist’s office and typically takes 15 to 45 minutes depending on the number of veins treated.

What are the side effects of this procedure?
The patient may experience mild discomfort at the injection site for a couple of minutes following the procedure. The area may itch for one to two days after the procedure, and there may be a raised, red area near the injection site. Bruising may occur for several days to several weeks depending on the patient.

Larger veins may become lumpy before they fade away in a few months, while any brown lines or spots will disappear within three to six months. The patient may notice new tiny blood vessels near the old vein, but these will also fade in three to 12 months without treatment.

If you have a history of allergies, a minor allergic reaction such as itching and swelling may occur, but our office will test the solution on a small area before performing the procedure.

Get help from a podiatrist
Dr. Richard Hochman, a recognized expert in treating patients with venous disease of the feet and ankles, will evaluate your needs and develop an individualized care plan to deliver high-quality clinical outcomes.

Please call our Coral Gables podiatry office at (305) 442-1780 to learn more about sclerotherapy and find out if it can help you get rid of unwanted varicose veins today!

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