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Varicose veins are abnormally thick, bulging and gnarled veins that usually appear in the legs. They are a common condition, affecting an estimated 50 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 50, with the prevalence in women more often than men.
For most patients, varicose veins and spider veins (the smaller and more common variation of varicose veins) are mainly a cosmetic concern. In others, they may cause pain, blood clots, skin sores or other problems. Whatever the patient’s reasons for seeking help, Houston Methodist offers a full range of comprehensive varicose vein treatments, including the most advanced version of combination laser therapy.
Your chances of developing varicose veins increase with the following conditions:
- Standing for long periods of time
- Extra weight puts more pressure on your veins
- The normal process of aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins that regulate blood flow
- Due to hormonal changes, women are more likely to develop varicose veins and spider veins than men
- Family history plays a role; you can inherit varicose veins
Treating Varicose Veins
Houston Methodist offers comprehensive treatment options for common vein conditions including spider veins, deep vein thrombosis and most commonly varicose veins. Non-surgical treatment includes rest and elevation each day, which can reduce the flow of blood to the lower leg. Compression stockings or support hose can also be used to lessen the pain and discomfort from this condition. Medications such as ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medicine can help relieve pain and discomfort.
If more involved treatments are needed, surgical options work well for some patients. Conventional vein stripping (removal) can be painful, and for many patients, similar results can be achieved using non-surgical treatments, such as schlerotherapy injections (chemical shrinking) to block the blood flow, causing the problem veins to shrink and disappear.
Varicose veins can also be treated using innovations in venous ablation. Ablation (vein disabling) is a minimally invasive endovascular procedure, performed through a small incision, where the vein is closed from within using laser or radiofrequency energy resulting in fewer complications, less discomfort and a quick recovery. Microphlebectomy (vein removal) is similarly performed through a very small incision.
An additional option includes advanced dual-laser technology, Cynosure™, which combines two existing technologies: the pulse-dye laser and Nd:YaG. This procedure emits a prescribed dose of light energy that destroys the varicose vein. The venous tissue absorbed by the body and blood flow is redirected to veins below the surface of the skin. This treatment enables faster, more effective results to a wider range of patients.