Varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue, and getting rid of them is not about vanity.
Varicose veins are usually found on the legs and manifest as dark purple or blue, often twisty, and sometimes enlarged lines. They affect about 20 percent of the U.S. adult population and half of those age 50 and older.
When veins are healthy and working properly, they return blood to the heart for reoxygenization, but when valves in the veins fail – or become damaged or leak – some of the blood flows in a backward direction rather than toward the heart, accumulating in the veins and causing them to thicken, elongate, and sometimes bulge.
Left untreated, varicose veins may cause serious health issues such as venous leg ulcers, skin discolorations, or blood clots.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are common in patients who have a family history of the condition and in women during or immediately following pregnancy. They are associated with many symptoms that affect quality of life:
- Achiness, heaviness, and fatigue in the affected area
- Itchiness, numbness
Progression of varicose veins often leads to:
- Skin discoloration
- Leg ulcers
- Blood clots
Treating varicose veins early – with minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedures – can prevent these progressive symptoms.
Treatments for Varicose Veins
Interventional radiology specialists at UT Southwestern treat all stages of varicose veins with noninvasive procedures that offer little or no pain or recovery time. Our specialists work closely with your primary care or other doctor to ensure you receive the best possible care. The most common treatments for varicose veins are:
- Compression stockings help reduce symptoms and prevent progression of varicose veins. Though effective, they rarely resolve the underlying problem, and symptoms tend to recur after discontinuation of the stockings.
- Endovenous (vein) ablation is a simple, nonsurgical therapy, performed with either laser or radiofrequency, that seals the vein(s) containing failed valves. After the procedure, the diseased veins are excluded from circulation, and blood routes through veins that have normal functioning valves. This treatment is more than 90 percent effective at sealing the problem veins and improving the symptoms – a rate comparable to or even surpassing traditional surgery. Vein ablation is often supplemented by sclerotherapy and microphlebectomy.
- Sclerotherapy, or injection therapy, is a nonsurgical procedure in which a tiny needle is used to deliver special medication into the varicose vein to shrink it. It may be performed as a standalone procedure or as a complement to ablation therapy.
- Microphlebectomy is a minimally invasive procedure in which the varicose vein is removed via a tiny nick made with a special set of tools.
How We're Different
UT Southwestern interventional radiologists are experts at treating varicose veins. Specializing in minimally invasive, targeted treatments, our team treats the source of the disease rather than just the symptoms. UTSW interventional radiologists have been at the forefront of research on varicose veins and have published extensively on the diagnosis and treatment of the condition. We offer all available varicose vein treatments under one roof, including the latest, most advanced ablation equipment.
Request an Appointment
To meet with an interventional radiologist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas, or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.