If you’ve been covering up varicose veins all winter, the idea of showing off your legs this summer is intimidating. The good news is there is still time to treat your varicose veins and enjoy summer-ready legs in a few months. Board certified vascular surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Apple recently explained the latest varicose vein and spider vein treatment options available to The List.
Why vein treatments are better in the winter and spring
After varicose vein treatment, compression stockings must be worn for several weeks in order to help promote circulation and reduce any discomfort. Dr. Apple points out, this is “much more manageable and less noticeable in the winter when [it] can be worn under pants.”
During the cooler months your body does not swell as much, which helps promote healing. “In the summer,” warns Apple, “harmful UV rays can also cause veins to dilate, which can lead to blood pooling and even reverse the effects of treatment.”
Non-surgical varicose vein treatment
According to Dr. Apple, one of the latest minimally invasive vein treatments is a simple in-office procedure called VenaSeal, which uses medical glue to seal off damaged veins. The glue is applied with a thin syringe followed by light compression that spreads it throughout the vein. Once the vein is sealed off like this, it will just be re-absorbed into the body and the blood will continue to flow through healthy, non-damaged veins. After the VenaSeal procedure, only a small bandage is required, and you can resume normal activities the same day.
Endovenous ablation is similar to the VenaSeal procedure, but uses radiofrequency energy to seal the veins, and requires local anesthesia. After the procedure, compression stockings are required, and you’ll be back to normal activities within a day or two.
If you undergo the VenaSeal or endovenous ablation procedure, Dr. Apple recommends avoiding prolonged sitting or standing and not participating in strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for about a week.
Dr. Apple recommends sclerotherapy if you suffer from spider veins or small to medium varicose veins. This process involves injecting veins with an irritating solution that will cause them to break down and dissolve on their own. Sclerotherapy is done in the office and you can often return to regular activities immediately after treatment, though compression stockings should be work for 48 hours afterwards.
Minimally invasive vein surgery
If non-surgical procedures fail or if your varicose veins are on the large side, you may be a candidate for surgical vein treatment, or phlebectomy. Dr. Apple explains that during minimally invasive vein surgery “anesthesia is applied to the affected areas, and then a tiny instrument is threaded through a small puncture and the damaged veins are gently pulled through the puncture, and then blood flow is automatically rerouted through healthier ones.”
After this surgery compression stockings will need to be worn, but usually phlebectomy patients are up and about within 24 hours. As with the non-surgical vein treatments, it’s best to avoid either prolonged sitting or standing as well as workouts, swimming, or lifting anything heavy for a week after the surgery.
Varicose vein prevention tips
While varicose or spider veins may not be completely preventable, there are some things you can do to have a positive impact on your vein health. Dr. Apple says that maintaining a healthy weight should help your veins stay in shape, and getting adequate exercise helps, as well. You should also try not to sit or stand for long periods of time. Should your job require either activity, at least try to take a short walk or get up and stretch a few times a day.
Nutrition can also play a role in maintaining healthy veins. In addition to avoiding excessive weight gain, you should try to avoid excess sodium. Instead, try to eat foods that are high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
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