Varicose veins are a common vascular condition that affects millions of people, particularly women. These enlarged, twisted veins often appear in the legs and can cause discomfort, pain, and cosmetic concerns.
While conservative treatments such as lifestyle changes and compression stockings can help manage varicose veins, some individuals may require surgical intervention to alleviate their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Let’s discuss the causes and risk factors of varicose veins and provide a comprehensive guide on how to prepare for varicose vein surgery, including various procedures such as EndoVenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT), Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), microphlebectomy, VenaSeal, and Varithena.
Understanding Varicose Veins
Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins fail to function properly, leading to the backward flow of blood and increased pressure on the veins. Several factors contribute to the development of varicose veins, including:
- Genetics: A family history of varicose veins increases the likelihood of developing them.
- Age: The risk of varicose veins tends to increase with age as vein walls lose elasticity.
- Gender: Women are more prone to varicose veins, likely due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause.
- Prolonged Standing or Sitting: Occupations or lifestyles that involve extended periods of standing or sitting can exacerbate the condition.
- Obesity: Excess weight puts additional pressure on the veins, increasing the risk of varicose veins.
- Pregnancy: The pressure of a growing uterus can affect blood flow in the legs, contributing to varicose veins.
- Prior Leg Injury: Previous leg injuries or trauma can damage veins, leading to varicose veins.
Common Varicose Vein Procedures
- EndoVenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT): EVLT is a minimally invasive procedure that uses laser energy to close off the affected vein. It is highly effective and typically requires minimal recovery time.
- Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): RFA is another minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to heat and seal the problematic vein. Like EVLT, it offers a shorter recovery period than traditional surgery.
- Microphlebectomy: In microphlebectomy, tiny incisions are made to remove varicose veins close to the skin's surface. This technique is particularly suitable for large, visible veins.
- VenaSeal: Venaseal involves the use of a medical adhesive to seal the problematic vein shut. This method is painless and requires no anesthesia.
- Varithena: Varithena is a technique where a foam sclerosant is injected into the vein to close it off. It's effective for treating larger veins.
Preparing for Varicose Vein Surgery
To ensure a smooth varicose vein surgery experience, it's crucial to follow the pre-operative instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Here are some common prep procedures we recommend at the Vein Institute of New Jersey:
- Personal Hygiene: Shower before your visit. You will not be permitted to shower for 24 hours after the procedure.
- Leg Shaving: Shave your leg 1-2 days before the procedure from ankle to groin. Avoid shaving on the day of the surgery.
- Moisturizer: Do not apply any type of moisturizer to your leg on the day of the procedure.
- Hydration: Avoid caffeine on the day of the procedure and stay well hydrated with water.
- Clothing: Wear loose-fitting clothing and flat shoes on the day of surgery. You will leave the office with a bulky bandage from your foot to your groin. Avoid light-colored clothing as marker stains may occur.
- Compression Stockings: A surgical compression thigh-high stocking is required on the day of the procedure. Make sure to bring it with you or purchase it at our office.
- Anxiety Management: If you're anxious, consult with your healthcare provider about taking a prescribed medication like Xanax (0.5 mg) to help you relax. Remember to pick it up before the procedure.
- Transportation: Arrange for a ride home after surgery, as you won't be able to drive yourself.
- Confirmation: Expect a confirmation call from the center the week of the procedure, but be aware that the time may be subject to change.
Varicose vein surgery can offer significant relief for individuals suffering from the discomfort and aesthetic concerns associated with varicose veins. Proper preparation, including following the provided guidelines, is essential to ensure a successful and smooth surgical experience. By understanding the causes and risk factors of varicose veins and the available treatment options, you can make informed decisions about your vascular health and take steps towards a more comfortable future.