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I Have Varicose Veins: Should I Worry?

Did you know that up to 40% of women and 25% of men have varicose veins? It’s a common condition with, fortunately, a simple treatment process. 

But even though varicose veins are common, that doesn’t mean they’re always harmless. While most people experience symptoms that include aching, swollen legs caused by varicose veins, they can potentially become fatal if they’re not treated. Varicose veins are chronic and progressive, but treatment is minimally invasive and highly effective. 

What are varicose veins?

To put it simply, varicose veins appear as purplish, ropey veins that are often visible beneath the surface of the skin. They’re often thick and enlarged, although what’s visible is generally only the tip of the iceberg. And is quite a number of patients the veins are invisible from the surface, only visible with ultrasound.  If varicose veins run in your family, there’s a high chance you will have them as well. Other risk factors include obesity, age, pregnancy, and sitting or standing for a prolonged period of time. 

In some cases, varicose veins can result in venous leg ulcers and deep vein thrombosis. Other milder symptoms include itching, discomfort, swelling, and a feeling of heaviness in the leg. Restless Leg Syndrome is another symptom people commonly experience with varicose veins. 

So what causes varicose veins? To put it simply, the veins in your legs contain a one-way valve that keeps blood flowing upward toward your heart. When your veins weaken, however, blood begins to pool in your veins, which leads to venous disease. 

In fact, varicose veins aren’t just a stand alone issue. They’re an early stage of chronic venous insufficiency, with the last stages including venous ulcers (open wounds on your skin caused by varicose veins). This doesn’t happen to everyone — only around 3% of people with varicose veins develop skin ulcers. 

Unfortunately, varicose veins don’t get better over time, and there are no home remedies. 

Should I get my varicose veins treated?

While lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms caused by varicose veins, they won’t heal them. Lifestyle changes include:

  • Losing weight
  • Lower body aerobic exercise 
  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Resting your legs above your heart

A former patient at East Tennessee Vein Clinic had a scary situation develop that was caused by her varicose veins during pregnancy

Julie Doss was in her third pregnancy, and woke up one morning in her third trimester unable to get out of bed because of excruciating pain in her leg. East Tennessee Vein Clinic’s Dr. Douglass saw her that day and discovered a blood clot which thankfully was in the superfical veins in limited in nature and not a deep vein thrombosis. 

She came back to Dr. Douglass after she delivered her son for treatment, fearing that she would get another blood clot that could potentially be more serious. 

“I was shocked at how little pain I experienced during the procedures, and I am so happy with the end results!” she said. “My bulging, aching veins are gone and I feel so much better. I'm so glad I didn't wait any longer.”

Treatment is usually covered by insurance, and we use ultrasound diagnostic imaging to map out your veins, which allows us to target problem areas with precision. If you’ve been dealing with varicose veins, it’s worth coming in for a consultation to see how we can help. 

Our patients are relieved of their painful symptoms once they receive treatment and often say they wish they had come sooner. 

Complications caused by varicose veins

Besides superfical thrombophlebitis (clotting) of veins like Julie experienced, varicose veins can cause other problems as well. Chronic inflammation in the tissue around varicose veins can cause the skin to become dark and discolored, which is known as hyperpigmentation.

Spontaneous bleeding can also occur. 

Treatment for varicose veins in Knoxville, Tennessee

Treatment for varicose veins is a multi-step process, but our procedures are all minimally invasive with a fast recovery time. 

Our procedures include:

  • Endovenous thermal ablation using either laser (EVLT) or microwave (Closure-fast)
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy/microphlebectomy
  • Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy/Varithena
  • Venaseal
  • Cosmetic sclerotherapy (for spider veins)

All of our procedures at East Tennessee Vein Clinic are outpatient, and patients are expected to return to their most of their customary activities immediately. You can drive yourself to your appointment and drive home with no need of assistance. You can return to work, and are encouraged to take a daily 20 minute walk. 

If you’re concerned about your varicose veins or spider veins, come in to East Tennessee Vein Clinic for a consultation. We’ll help you take the next step toward healing! Schedule a consultation today! 

“The service was great. Will be back – Thanks for your kindness.”

- D.J., Gatlinburg, TN