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What are Varicose Veins?

Usually occurring in the leg, varicose veins appear blue or black in colour, lying just under the skin. These are swollen or twisted and might or might not cause pain.

In some people, varicose veins do turn very painful. Treatment is important for such cases. Otherwise, varicose veins can be very well ignored.

What causes varicose veins to form?

Varicose veins form due to several different reasons. Some of them are:

  • Obesity

  • Pregnancy

  • Injury to veins

  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle

  • Aging

Symptoms / when to call your doctor

Varicose veins can be ignored if they don’t cause discomfort or pain. However, when there is swelling or blood clots form, you should seek immediate treatment.

Why you should see a doctor?

Usually, the blood clots formed due to varicose veins lie near the surface of the skin. However, in some cases, they break off and travel to other parts of the body. If they travel to the lungs, the problem turns very serious and might even lead to death.

Hence, if you see blood clots forming at the site of the varicose veins, you must see a doctor about it.

How is it diagnosed?

A simple physical examination of the legs is enough to diagnose varicose veins.

Imaging tests such as ultrasound might also be needed to check for blood clots.

Dietary Restrictions

There are no dietary restrictions as such after varicose veins treatment. However, having high fibre food and drinking plenty of fluids helps in quick recovery.

Treatment for Varicose Veins

When varicose veins do not cause any discomfort, they can be ignored. Simple lifestyle changes can help in treating them. Maintaining a healthy weight, elevating legs while sitting and avoiding tight clothes might resolve the issue.

Types of treatments

There are various treatments available to treat varicose veins. All of them are simple procedures that you put you out of discomfort and pain. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

Surgery

Sometimes, the varicose veins cannot be cured by lifestyle changes alone. To treat them, the best way is to remove the affected veins. This does not affect blood flow to the leg.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given general anaesthesia for the procedure

  • Based on where the varicose veins are present, the incision is made

  • The affected veins are completely removed so that the problem does not recur

  • The incision is sutured

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient or 1 Day procedure with mild pain

  • Resume to normal routine after 1- 3 weeks

Risks involved in the treatment:

There are very less complications through this treatment. Some of the risks may be:

  • allergic or adverse reaction to anaesthesia or other drugs

  • bleeding

  • nerve injury

  • infection

Ligation and Stripping

This is a short procedure lasting just 60 – 90 minutes. It is often recommended for people who are active and healthy. This procedure is not advisable for pregnant women, people who are overweight or having skin diseases.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given general anaesthesia or a spinal anaesthesia for the procedure

  • A few incisions are made- one in the groin, others at the site of the varicose veins

  • A flexible, thin plastic wire is threaded through the incision

  • The wire is then pulled out of the other end thereby removing the vein

  • The incisions are taped or sutured

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient procedure

  • Resume normal day routine after 1-3 weeks

Risks involved in the treatment:

The procedure involves several incisions. So, some of the risks may be:

  • Excessive bleeding

  • Infection of the surgical wound

  • Nerve damage

  • Blood clots

  • Deep vein thrombosis

Sclerotherapy

This procedure involves injecting a chemical substance which closes them. This procedure can be used only for small or medium sized varicose veins.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is made to lie back with legs slightly elevated

  • Using a fine needle, the solution is injected into the varicose veins one at a time

  • After injecting the solution, the doctor massages the area and applies compression

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient procedure

  • Resume normal day routine after 1-2 weeks

Risks involved in the treatment:

The procedure involves several incisions. So, some of the risks may be:

  • Itching

  • Swelling

  • Allergic reactions

  • Veins might become lumpy and hard

  • Air bubbles

Radio Frequency Ablation

For larger varicose veins, this procedure is preferred. Higher radio frequencies are used to seal the veins.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given local anaesthesia for this procedure

  • A small incision is made with the help of an ultrasound machine

  • A narrow tube is threaded into the vein

  • High radio frequencies are passed through the tube which heat up the veins and close them

  • The incision is sutured

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient procedure

  • Resume normal day routine after 1-2 weeks

Risks involved in the treatment:

Though rare, some of the risks associated with this procedure are:

  • Skin burns

  • Nerve damage

  • Blood clots

  • Pain and burning sensation

EVLA Treatment

Endovenous laser ablation, otherwise known as the EVLA treatment is just like the radio frequency ablation procedure apart from the fact that this procedure uses laser to seal off the varicose veins. The entire procedure takes about 20-30 minutes for each leg.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given local anaesthesia for this procedure

  • A small incision is made with the help of an ultrasound machine

  • A catheter is threaded into the vein

  • Short energy bursts are passed into the vein using laser which burns and seals it

  • The incision is sutured

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient procedure

  • Resume normal day routine after 3-4 days

Risks involved in the treatment:

Risks from this procedure are rare. However, some of the risks can be:

  • Thrombophlebitis

  • Nerve Damage

  • Burns

  • Deep vein thrombosis

Transilluminator Powered Phlebectomy

This is a procedure in which varicose veins are identified, cut and removed rather than sealing them shut. It is a minimally invasive procedure and is supposed to be a quicker process to remove varicose veins.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given local anaesthesia for the procedure

  • Using a surgical marker, the site of the varicose veins is marked

  • Using an antiseptic solution, the area is cleaned

  • A small incision is made to insert an endoscopic transilluminator

  • A second incision is made through which a suction device is inserted

  • As soon as the transilluminator cuts the vein, the suction device removes the damaged vein

  • The incisions are sutured or taped once all the varicose veins are removed

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient procedure

  • Resume normal day routine the next day

Risks involved in the treatment:

The side effects of this procedure are:

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Brown spots around the area

  • Bruising

  • Tingling sensation at the site

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