3 Reasons Seniors Should Seek Treatment For Varicose Veins
Many older patients who seek varicose vein treatments hesitate to do so because they remember hearing stories about how their elders endured painful “vein stripping” procedures. However, varicose veins are treated much differently in 2018 thanks to how procedures have advanced by light years with the implementation of lasers.
Most procedures today are minimally-invasive with the use of ultrasound and lasers, and are performed in less than an hour in-office. There is little to no down-time, and pain is minimal. Only local anesthetic is necessary, which is of particular advantage for elderly patients who may have other medical issues which would make being under general anesthetic risky.
So, let’s take those fears of past painful techniques or having to “go under” off the table and talk about why it’s important for seniors to seek treatment for varicose veins.
Why & When Seniors Should Seek Treatment
Varicose veins are a chronic, progressive disease, meaning they will not heal or even improve to any degree on their own. Most varicose vein disease isn’t visible, either—think of the ropy, twisted veins that are visible on the surface of the leg as just the tip of the iceberg. It can take years, even decades, before varicose veins become visibly apparent, which means there’s a lot more going on underneath the surface of the skin than one may realize.
As a result, there’s a higher incidence of varicose veins in seniors aged 70 and over simply because they’ve had longer to develop the problem compared to their younger counterparts. Consider the difference between a lawn that hasn’t been cut for three weeks compared to one that hasn’t been cut in three months. Both lawns have the same problem, but it has become worse in the lawn that was untended for so long.
In addition, varicose veins can cause more complicated medical conditions in a minority of patients, such as clotting, bleeding, or leg ulcers. Treatment for seniors should particularly be considered if some complication of untreated varicose veins has occurred, such as:
- Leg ulcers
- Severe bleeding
- Recurrent phlebitis (clotting)
- Discoloration of the skin
- Significant leg pain
The development of leg ulcers is more often seen in seniors since pressure in the superficial veins of the legs has had years to build as seniors age, and it’s that pressure in the superficial veins that causes leg ulcers. Venous ulcers are extremely painful and reduce a senior’s mobility and quality of life.
Treatment For Seniors
Fortunately, the vast majority of medical complications from varicose veins are treatable. Today’s techniques work remarkably well to seal diseased veins and have been shown to be just as effective and safe for senior patients over the age of 70 as for their younger counterparts. Treatment may also be provided for patients well into their 80’s who remains active and mobile.
Medicare has considered varicose veins medically necessary and covers treatment of the condition for patients with complications such as leg ulcers, bleeding, clotting, discoloration, and significant pain or swelling which has failed to remit with conservative therapy of elevation and compression stockings.
Sometimes when a senior has leg pain and the cause isn’t readily apparent, consultation often proves helpful in determining whether or not varicose veins might be responsible for those symptoms they are experiencing.
If you are a senior and have varicose vein symptoms such as swelling, pain, clotting, discoloration, or leg ulcers, or if you are concerned that your varicose veins may indicate a more serious medical problem, consult with a vein specialist without further delay.
At East Tennessee Vein Clinic, we help many seniors get rid of their varicose veins through quick and safe outpatient procedures. You’ll be on your way to enjoying the activities you imagined you would in your older years, whether that’s hiking the Smokies or playing with your grandchildren.
As the first physician dedicated solely to the treatment of vein disease in Tennessee, Dr. Douglass and East Tennessee Vein Clinic lead the region in experience and expertise of varicose veins. We treat veins differently than other clinics precisely because of our comprehensive attention to treating the root cause of each patient’s vein disease. Visit us online at East Tennessee Vein Clinic, or call 866-281-VEIN, or request an appointment online today.