Varicose veins can be unsightly and embarrassing. They appear as large, colored, ropy protrusions on the legs and feet, marring your skin. They’re also more than just a cosmetic concern, as they can affect both your veins and overall health.
Cardiologists Dr. Adnan Aslam and Dr. Roy Norman at Northwest Houston Heart Center, serving the greater Houston, Texas, area, are concerned about their patients’ circulatory system health, including the varicose veins on their legs. They often get asked if the bloated veins can come back after treatment; here’s what they have to say.
How and why varicose veins form
Your heart is a workhorse, supplying your entire body with oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood. To do this, it uses a network of two sets of conduits to carry the blood: the arteries from the heart to the body, and the veins from the body back to the heart. Getting the blood back to the heart is the more difficult process because the veins have to work against the pull of gravity. That requires a couple of system “fixes.”
The first uses muscle contractions. The vein walls are elastic, so when muscle contractions in the calf and thigh squeeze the vessels, it pushes the blood forward.
The second uses tiny, one-way valves that snap shut as soon as the blood passes by, preventing backflow. However, if the valves are damaged by injury or the force of high blood pressure, they no longer close completely. Blood flow becomes sluggish in the area and pools in the vein, causing it to engorge and twist. When this occurs in surface veins, they protrude through the skin — varicose veins.
The sluggish flow is called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) because it’s insufficient to meet the body’s needs. Almost 40% of Americans experience some degree of CVI during their lives.
Varicose veins are definitely a cosmetic problem, but they can also produce symptoms, including pain, itchiness, and aching legs. They may also set you up for the health complications of the later stages of vein disease, which are more difficult to treat. As a result, you may want to have your varicose veins treated before they become more of a problem.
Treating varicose veins
At Northwest Houston Heart Center, we use both sclerotherapy and endovenous ablation to treat varicose veins. They use different techniques, but they arrive at the same destination: varicose vein removal.
With sclerotherapy, your provider injects a solution into the damaged vein. The solution irritates the vein walls, which collapse. The vein seals itself off and withers, and, over time, your body flushes the waste out of your system. Blood flow that was handled by the damaged vein is rerouted to a nearby healthy vein.
With endovenous ablation, your provider makes a cut in the vein about two millimeters in size and inserts a catheter through it. Using real-time ultrasound imaging, they thread the catheter to the problematic area. As they withdraw the catheter, it sends out either laser or radiofrequency energy, heating the vein and making the vein walls and valves close. As with sclerotherapy, your body disposes of the waste and reroutes blood flow.
Can varicose veins come back after treatment?
It’s kind of a yes and no answer. No matter which treatment you use, the treated vein is destroyed. That means it can’t come back and become varicose again. However, treatment doesn’t ensure that no other vein will become varicose, especially if you have an underlying condition like high blood pressure that can damage valves.
If you do have an underlying condition, it’s important that you get treatment for it; otherwise, it can continue to wreak havoc on your circulatory system.
If you have varicose veins and are looking for effective treatment, the best place to be is Northwest Houston Heart Center. To get started, give us a call at any of our locations — Tomball, Cypress, Magnolia, and The Woodlands, Texas — or book online today. You can also text us at 832-402-9518.