Varicose veins indicate that the veins in your legs are not working properly. Vein disorders are very common, affecting more than 24 million Americans. The interventional radiologists at Suburban Imaging specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care of vein disorders and varicose veins.
Veins carry blood to the heart. Normally, valves within the veins open and close to keep blood flowing upward, toward the heart. When the valves don’t function properly, blood pools and flows downward, a condition called reflux or venous insufficiency. Reflux results in enlarged veins that become visible underneath the skin and are called varicose veins. Varicose veins may appear elongated, bulging and rope-like.
It is estimated that in the United States, 72% of women and 42% of men will experience varicose veins by the time they are in their sixties. Conditions contributing to varicose veins include:
Symptoms of venous reflux and varicose veins include:
The interventional radiologists at Suburban Imaging stress the importance of finding and diagnosing any underlying vein disorder or disease, and are experts at vein treatments. Vein disorders can be diagnosed with a painless ultrasound exam of your legs.
Treatment will depend on the size and location of your varicose veins. Options include:
Schedule a consult with one of the Suburban Imaging interventional radiologists to discuss your symptoms, review treatment options and which one is right for you. Typically, you do not need a referral from your primary healthcare provider to meet with the radiologist. Most insurance plans cover treatments for varicose veins if you are experiencing the leg symptoms described above. Check with your insurance plan to verify benefits and ensure coverage.
Interventional radiology treatments are generally easier for patients than surgery:
no surgical incision
Sclerotherapy is used primarily for the treatment of cosmetic forms of venous insufficiency or spider veins. Sclerotherapy is typically used on smaller diameter vessels (1-2 mm). A sclerosing solution is injected into the spider vein to close the vein, making it less noticeable.
Phlebectomy is a minimally-invasive technique to remove bulging varicose veins through tiny, slit-like incisions. The procedure is well tolerated with local anesthesia, and the small size of the incisions leads to minimal scarring.
Venous ablation is a minimally invasive treatment option for varicose veins. It is an outpatient office procedure performed at Suburban Imaging. More than 90% of patients who have undergone venous ablation report improvement or resolution of their leg pain and visibility of varicose veins. Venous ablation treats the greater saphenous vein, which runs the length of the thigh. People who have varicose veins do not necessarily have reflux in the greater saphenous vein. To diagnose greater saphenous vein reflux, an ultrasound exam of the legs is performed.
The procedure is performed under local anesthesia by inserting a thin catheter in the saphenous vein. The catheter delivers laser energy to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse and seal shut.
Once the vein is closed, other healthy veins take over and empty blood from your legs. As normal flow is re-established, your symptoms are expected to improve.