health mind and body

Understanding, dealing with varicose veins


Summer is over and fall is just around the corner. Warm spring and summer weather isn’t at the top of your mind. But believe it or not, now is the time to start thinking about getting your leg veins treated.

What causes twisty, bulging varicose veins? A short lesson in vein anatomy is necessary to understand how they form.

One of the main veins draining the leg is called the greater saphenous vein. It contains valves, which serve to prevent blood from flowing backwards down the leg on its return to the heart. Over time, the vein can stretch, making the valve ineffective. Blood can’t effectively move out of the legs, pooling and increasing the pressure in the veins. This causes further stretching, leading the veins to become twisty and bulging.

Besides being unsightly, these veins can cause pain, heaviness, aching, and swelling in the legs. They can even lead to clots, bleeding, and ulcers that will heal slowly or not at all.

So what can be done about these veins?

The classic method of treatment was to “strip” these veins out of the leg. This stripping surgery, which some doctors still perform, comes with a high risk of scarring and nerve injury, has a prolonged recovery time, and is usually performed in a hospital operating room.

The more effective, modern treatment is known as endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) where a thin glass fiber is inserted into the saphenous vein under ultrasound guidance. Then, heat energy from a laser is applied to the inside of the vein, causing it to close permanently. This procedure is minimally invasive with a quick recovery time (you can go back to work the next day). It is done in the office under local anesthesia with minimal risk of nerve injury and no scarring.

Since varicose veins are often symptomatic, treatment is usually covered under insurance. Insurance providers will generally require a course of conservative management before approving the procedure. This entails a trial of compression therapy (medical-grade stockings which provide support to the veins), usually for 6 to 12 weeks. So if you are thinking of having your veins treated, it’s best to get the process started well before the warm weather (and associated clothing) arrives.

You want the best outcome possible, so wherever you decide to have your veins treated, be sure to ask the following questions:

•Is the doctor treating you certified by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine?

•What techniques does the doctor use to treat the veins?

•Is the practice part of a chain of clinics treating many issues or a single practice devoted to vein treatment exclusively?

We offer a free vein screening to see if you are a candidate for the EVLT procedure. The screening will provide you with a clear course of action to determine the best way to treat your varicose veins. Of course, we also offer a full range of treatments for other vein issues, such as spider veins or other cosmetic veins.

Call our office today and start the process of clearing up those veins for good. By next summer, your leg veins can be a thing of the past.

South Shore Vein and Image Guided Medicine is located at 24 Maple Ave, Suite 2, Rockville Centre. 516-865-1234,