Varicose veins are enlarged superficial veins you can see and feel through your skin. They most often occur in your legs and may appear dark blue or purple and twisted. They can be painful and occasionally can cause bleeding or ulcers. Spider veins are smaller red vessels that twist and turn. They are typically visible on the legs.
Varicose veins may be very painful. They may also cause a burning, heavy or aching feeling in your legs. Some people describe itching, throbbing or numbness. They are often associated with leg swelling.
Varicose veins are more likely to occur in older women; however, they can occur in both men and women of any age. You may be at a higher risk for varicose veins if you are obese or pregnant or if you spend a long time standing at your job. This is more likely to occur in occupations like hair stylists, teachers and house cleaners.
At the University of Miami Health System, our interventional radiologists use minimally invasive techniques to treat varicose veins and improve your symptoms as well as the appearance of your veins.
History and Physical Exam
Your doctor will ask about your veins and any symptoms you experience. They will also examine your varicose veins.
An ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging test that uses sound waves to create images of the blood flow in your legs. An ultrasound can reveal how well blood moves through your legs.
These minimally invasive techniques have low risks of pain and bleeding and relatively fast recovery times.
During sclerotherapy, your doctor injects a special solution into the veins. This solution irritates the vein walls, causing them to collapse. Over the next few weeks, the veins are reabsorbed into the body.
The entire procedure takes less than an hour. Your doctor will use local anesthetic to keep you comfortable during the injections, though you may feel some stinging.
You will need to wear compression stockings for two weeks after your procedure to assist with healing and prevent complications. However, you will be able to return to walking and all your normal activities almost immediately.
Greater Saphenous Venous Ablation
During this procedure, you will receive a local anesthetic around your abnormal veins and moderate sedation.
An interventional radiologist will then insert a thin tube (catheter) into the greater saphenous vein through a very small incision. This vein is a large abnormal vein which results in the varicose veins that are visible. They will then transmit laser or radiofrequency energy through the catheter, damaging the abnormal vein so it closes off. Your doctor will then remove the catheter and place a bandage on the incision site. The entire procedure takes about an hour.
You will be able to go home after catheter ablation and return to your normal activities. You will also need to wear compression stockings. The vein will fade away over the next few weeks to months.
During this procedure, you’ll receive local anesthetic around your abnormal varicose veins and moderate sedation.
An interventional radiologist will then remove the abnormal varicose veins with a device called a vein hook. This procedure is associated with bruising which will resolve in 2 to 6 weeks; however, the benefits are that the abnormal varicose veins are permanently removed.
After the procedure you will have small steri-strips on the phlebectomy sites for approximately 1 week.
Why Choose UHealth?
Expert care from highly trained interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons. Our specialists are experts in a variety of minimally invasive procedures — everything from treatments to clear blocked blood vessels to advanced cancer therapies like NanoKnife®.
Advanced, hard-to-find procedures. Our doctors are committed to caring for every patient. That’s why they offer the latest treatments, including limb salvage, endovascular grafting and thoracic outlet decompression, to improve your blood flow.
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