Many people avoid going to the doctor on the best of days, but when you throw a “medical procedure” into the equation, hearts go very cold.
If you’ve got an upcoming treatment for varicose veins or if you’re thinking of seeing a specialist but putting it off because you’re afraid of what will come next, take a deep breath and relax. Neither the diagnosis nor the treatment should strike dread into your soul. Treating varicose veins can (and should!) be a simple, relatively quick and painless process.
Arm yourself with a bit of knowledge so you can feel comfortable about the procedure and know what to expect.
In the past, the only real way to treat varicose veins was with a surgical procedure that necessitated an overnight hospital stay.
But with modern technology and medical knowledge, you no longer need to go to such lengths.
Laser treatment and sclerotherapy (treatment via medication) are two outpatient options that can have you in, treated and out in no time. Either therapy should take no more than an hour of your time and can take as few as 15 minutes.
A vein specialist’s office may be equipped with special chairs and other equipment that will make you even more comfortable during your treatment.
If you’re worried about taking the next step, don’t be. Getting treatment for varicose veins can be as fast and simple as visiting your doctor about a sore throat.
Sure, if you were going for the traditional “vein stripping” procedure as a hospital inpatient, you’d need general anesthesia. And that can frighten people, especially those with other medical conditions.
But today’s outpatient procedures require only a local anesthetic – not much different than you might get at a dentist office when getting your tooth filled.
Prescription painkillers can frighten people, too. We’ve all heard stories of their addictive qualities and let’s face it – we don’t want to put medications into our bodies if we don’t have to.
The good news is that with proper treatment you may not feel any pain or discomfort at all, and if you do you can easily treat it with over the counter painkillers. Your doctor can recommend one for you if you need it.
Depending on the extent of your treatment, you can be up and about performing your usual activities immediately or you may want to take it easy for a couple of days. Either way you won’t have a long recovery time getting in the way of your routine.
Your doctor may advise against strenuous activity for a short period but regular exercise, standing, walking and other activities can be resumed as soon as you walk out of the office.
Treatments via laser or radiofrequency are done without incisions. For both of these treatments, a needle is inserted into the vein with a fiber that creates the heat necessary to close off affected veins. Sclerotherapy, or treatment via medication, is also done through an injection.
None of these cause scarring, and don’t worry! They aren’t painful, either. Remember, your doctor will administer a local anesthetic to mitigate the effects of the injections and heat. Afterwards you can look forward to undamaged skin and an improved appearance.
Sclerotherapy has approximately a 90% success rate and laser treatments have upwards of a 98% success rate. That’s better odds than you get trying to make a good cup of coffee!
Overall these treatments are highly successful and once a vein is treated it’s typically gone for good.
Varicose veins, however, are considered a chronic condition so you may eventually develop new varicose veins. You can check for new veins by scheduling regular ultrasounds every six months to a year so that your doctor can continue to monitor you and make recommendations for lifestyle changes and treatments.
And while you may not be able to fully prevent varicose veins, there are steps you can take to reduce your risks.
A few lifestyle changes coupled with regular checkups will keep you in good shape.
One of the most often cited complications of vein treatment is blood clots. But your chance of developing a blood clot as a result of treatment is lower than your chance of getting struck by lightning.
Any medical procedure carries some risk, but in this case the risk is minimal. Other risks include infection and allergic reactions, but again, these are extremely low and no more likely to develop than if you’d had that tooth filled that we talked about earlier.
It probably sounds scary to think of “killing” or cutting off a vein. You need those to carry blood through your body, right?
Yes, you do – but your body has such an enormous network of veins and those being cut off through treatment aren’t working anyway, so eliminating them will not adversely affect you. Not removing them is a much worse threat to your health.
Varicose veins are already damaged. When they are closed off they will be harmlessly reabsorbed into the body and your blood will be rerouted through healthy veins. You’ll look better, feel better and reduce other health risks, too.
Sometimes our ability to get treatment relies, sadly, on the cost. But varicose veins are not simply a cosmetic condition – they’re a serious medical condition that can impact your health. As such, treatment is usually covered as a medical procedure under your insurance policy.
Unlike spider veins, which may be unsightly but pose no threat and aren’t covered, varicose veins are. So don’t let fear of the expense stop you from taking charge of your health.
Any unchartered territory can be frightening if you don’t have all the facts. Now that you understand more about the treatments for varicose veins you can approach your doctor confidently. Do you have more questions that weren’t answered here? Get in touch and we’ll help put your mind at ease.