Treating Varicose Veins Without Surgery

For many women, “varicose veins” and their milder variant, spider veins, are mostly a cosmetic concern.

For other people, though, varicose veins can result in pain, discomfort, ulcers and even significant bleeding. Sometimes the condition signals a higher risk of other circulatory problems.

Women are at least twice as likely as men to develop varicose veins. In the U.S. alone, they affect up to 60 percent of all Americans.

“What surprises most people when I lecture about varicose veins is that there are many non-surgical treatment options available,” said Abilio Coello, M.D., a vascular surgeon and member of the Baptist Health Quality Network.

Dr. Coello is scheduled to speak about “Treating Varicose Veins Without Surgery” in a Spanish-language presentation on Jan. 14.

What are ‘Varicose Veins’?
Veins of the legs carry valves that allow blood to return back to the heart. But when these valves stop working properly, blood stagnates in the legs. Anything that causes an increase of the pressure inside the veins while the valves are non-functional leads to venous insufficiency.

This pressure can result in gnarled and enlarged veins. The veins most commonly affected are those in your legs and feet. That’s because standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body.

“The condition is not necessarily hereditary, but we see it in families,” said Dr. Coello. “Most importantly, if you stand for too long on a regularly basis, you are then more prone to having varicose veins. As an example, I tell people that my best patients are hairdressers and cashiers.”

What are causes of Venous Insufficiency?
Other than genetics, jobs that require standing, such as cashiers, security guards, and bank tellers, can create the conditions that lead to varicose veins. However, jobs with inactivity can do the same, such as office work where you sit at a workstation for most of the work day. Pregnancy and obesity can also increase pressure on veins.

Simple Treatments
Anything that reduces or counteracts the pressure inside the branches of veins that causes them to enlarge can be very helpful, said Dr. Coello. Here are some of these treatments:

  • Elevation:  Lay flat with legs up higher than heart level—15-20 minutes.
  • Compression:  Stockings of the appropriate length and compression fights the increase in pressure of venous insufficiency. They also help return elasticity that we lose from our skin with age.
  • Exercise: Simple walking stimulates the muscle pump to help return venous blood back to the heart.  If you at a desk, “stepping on pedals” while wearing stockings performs the same benefit and provides immediate relief.
  • Lubrication:  Skin must be kept moisturized to prevent cracking which is an entry point for bacteria and the formation of ulcers.
  • Advanced Treatments
    There are several non-surgical treatments for varicose veins. Surgical removal or “stripping of the vein” is rarely needed, but may be recommended in some situations to treat superficial venous thrombosis or phlebitis.

    Here are some alternatives:

  • Avulsion:  Actual removal of veins through multiple tiny incisions.
  • Ablation:  Heat the vein wall which causes it to shrink close and disappear(Laser or Radio Frequency).
  • Sclerotherapy: Injection of substances into veins that irritates them  and makes them close and disappear.
  • Light therapy— Blood in the spider veins absorb light that makes them heat up and close the tiny veins.
  • Healthcare that Cares

    With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

    Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

    I want to see the site in English

    Continue In English

    Quiero ver el sitio en Español

    Continuar en español