Many people think of varicose veins as unsightly blemishes that protrude through a person’s skin. And while all of that is true, there are other factors thought you should know about this condition. Varicose veins occur when the veins in a person’s legs are unable to pump blood back to their heart effectively. Sometimes this is due to a weakened vein, other times it’s because of a damaged valve. Regardless of the origin of the issue, the primary issue is that blood pools in the weakened veins causing them to swell and push toward the surface of the skin. Not only do you end up with an unsightly, bulging vein but it can also be very painful. This is where vein ablations come into play.
The primary purpose of vein ablations is to reduce a patient’s discomfort. Some of the common symptoms of varicose veins are swelling, aching, chronic pain, and numbness. The biggest risk of leaving varicose veins untreated is the potential for pooling blood to clot. Fortunately, vein ablations are a simple and effective procedure to treat this issue so you don’t have to go on any longer with such discomfort.
How Does It Work?
Vein ablations are simple outpatient surgeries that provide nearly immediate relief from symptoms of varicose veins. Once you’ve decided to undergo this procedure you’ll be amazed at how quick and easy it is. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect. After numbing your skin your doctor will make a small incision in the affected area. Then, she will insert a thin tube also known as a catheter into the troublesome vein. Finally, either radiofrequency or lasers are released which heat up the vein effectively killing it. But don’t worry, your body knows just what to do next. As the treated vein scars over, blood is redirected to another vein. Our bodies simply adapt to this change.
After the procedure, most patients can leave and continue their recovery at home. It may take just a matter of weeks for you to return to your normal activities after your vein ablations.
What Are The Risks and How Do We Mitigate Them?
We’re confident when we say that most patients recover very easily from this procedure, but of course, there are always outliers and some patients have more inherent risks than others. One of the primary risk factors for patients who undergo vein ablations is infection. Anytime an incision is made through the skin and through a major vein, there is a potential for unwanted bacteria to enter the wound. To mitigate this risk we ask patients to keep an eye on the incision site for the days following their vein ablations, avoid submerging it in water, and alert their cardiologist of any early signs of infection.
Another potential risk of vein ablations is swelling. Remember, the surgeon has essentially killed a vein in your leg which to your body may feel like trauma. To mitigate this risk and to reduce uncomfortable swelling your cardiologist will recommend that you take a few important steps. First, ice your leg regularly after the procedure. You may also consider wearing compression socks which limit swelling and keep your blood from pooling or clotting. And finally, you may be surprised to hear that your cardiologist will want to you walk quite a bit after your vein ablations. When you walk around your heart works harder to pump blood through your body. This can strengthen your existing veins that are now taking up the slack for the ablated vein. Do your best to remain active and take at least 3 short walks per day.
As with any medical procedure, it’s important to do your research so you understand what to expect and how to take proper care of yourself after it’s over. Your cardiologist will give you all of the information you need to have a safe recovery, but there are few things you should be prepared to discuss. Make sure you know exactly what drugs they recommend you take (or not take) after your procedure. Some medications can increase bleeding and would not be appropriate after vein ablations. You should also make sure that you and your cardiologist are on the same page regarding your normal level of activity and when you plan to return to it. Whether you’re typically very active or less so, there is a sweet spot for post-vein ablation activity and a clear conversation with your cardiologist can help you get there.
We’ve had patients who went years without showing their legs in public due to their shame and embarrassment over their varicose veins. We’ve also had patients who had resigned to a life of inactivity because of the aching and discomfort from this condition. No matter what motivates you to get this procedure, it’s our pleasure to help you achieve your goals safely. For more information about vein ablations, contact our office today.