Debbie, a sclerotherapy patient at the Vein Care Center of Amelia Island, was determined not to let spider veins adversely impact her quality of life.
Varicose veins can deal an enormous blow to one’s self-esteem, confidence, and self-image. People with spider veins often feel ashamed about their legs and feet and may avoid showing them in public at all costs.
Debbie’s varicose veins were preventing her from enjoying life to the fullest, and her embarrassment around the condition was creating stress and trepidation about her upcoming vacation to the tropics. It was then that Sue decided to take matters into her own hands and get varicose vein treatment.
After researching different vascular clinics online, Debbie decided to consult Gabor Kovacs, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified vascular and general surgeon at the Vein Care Center of Amelia Island.
“I came here because of all the star ratings Dr. Kovacs had,” says Debbie. “He had many good reviews on Yelp, and because he had just opened a location here in Fernandina, it was very convenient.”
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins impact almost a quarter of U.S. adults (roughly 30 million people). Females are statistically more likely to have varicose veins on their legs than males by a ratio of 60/40. Varicose veins (also known as venous insufficiency) display as large, bulging, contorted blue or dark purple veins in the legs and pelvis. They typically extend from the thigh down to the ankle, or any part of the leg.
Varicose veins can negatively affect self-esteem, confidence, and self-image. People with varicose veins often feel ashamed about their legs and feet and may go to great lengths to avoid showing them in public.
If left untreated, varicose veins can lead to:
- Leg fatigue and heaviness
- Nagging, throbbing leg pain and achiness
- Cramping or swelling in the legs
- At times restless leg syndrome
Varicose (literally meaning ‘swollen’) veins can make it difficult to stand for prolonged periods and cause swollen ankles, skin darkening, and skin wounds. In extreme cases, varicose veins may break open, or ulcers may appear on the skin.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Pregnancy can predispose women to varicose veins, but the leading causes are usually either genetic or occupational. People with parents or other close relatives who had varicose veins are more likely to get them, and individuals who spend a lot of time on their feet at work will be more at risk of developing unsightly veins as well.
Under normal conditions, one-way valves in the leg work to prevent the blood from remaining stagnant or flowing backward; they work against gravity to keep blood moving toward the heart. When the valves fail, blood backs up into the veins, causing an overload of pressure and swelling. The surplus pressure expands the veins so that they cannot close properly. The result is that the veins stay bloated with blood, thereby creating varicose veins. Venous insufficiency can also occur from a past blood clot in the legs.
Other factors increasing the risks of developing varicose veins include:
- Family history
- Old age
- Traumatic leg injuries
- Reduced mobility
How Can You Treat Varicose Veins?
When no adverse symptoms are present, and if the presence of varicose veins does not bother a patient, medical intervention may not be necessary. Instead, a vascular surgeon may recommend specific lifestyle changes including:
- Regular exercise
- Weight-loss plans
- Not wearing tight-fitting clothing or high heeled shoes
However, when pain, swelling or other problems persist, or a patient wishes to remove the varicose veins for cosmetic reasons, medical treatments may be recommended such as:
- Compression stockings – to prevent blood from pooling down in the legs
- Ablation therapy – injection, radiofrequency or laser treatment to close or remove the veins
Debbie’s varicose veins caused her to feel stressed and embarrassed and were preventing her from enjoying life to the fullest. With warmer weather and vacation plans around the corner, she decided to take action and tackle her varicose veins head on.
“I came to Vein Care Center of Amelia Island to have sclerotherapy done,” says Debbie. “We were doing some traveling, and it was getting to be summertime, and I wanted to have some veins removed so I could wear shorts, which is something I haven’t done in about 15 years. I wanted to look good for my legs.”
What Is Sclerotherapy and How Is It Performed?
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive medical procedure used by vascular specialists to remove unwanted varicose veins. The process involves injecting medicine, called sclerosing agents, into unhealthy veins. In addition to relieving discomfort, the injected chemicals cause damaged veins to diminish and fade from view.
Using an ultrasound, a tiny 30-gauge needle is woven through the vein, and a sclerosing solution is injected into the pathway causing the vein to spasm, clot, and then disappear. Treatments are typically done in the vascular surgeon’s office and are completed in about an hour.
The supportive and caring attitude displayed by Dr. Kovacs and his staff immediately put Debbie at ease. “When I finally came in to meet Dr. Kovacs, he was precious,” she says. “He was just so down to earth, and you wouldn’t even know he was a doctor if you met him on the street. He’s just as sweet as can be.”
Results of Sclerotherapy
Studies have proven the effectiveness of sclerotherapy in attaining a 60-80% success rate for eliminating varicose veins. Less than one in ten patients have no improvement at all, and in that case, other chemical solutions can be employed.
Patients can return home immediately after the procedure and get back to their daily activities. Staying active and keeping the legs mobile is essential to prevent blood clots from forming. However, patients should avoid strenuous exercise for at least two weeks after sclerotherapy.
Varicose veins can take time to dissolve. Patients may start seeing an immediate difference just three to four days after treatment but may not see the complete effects until a month or two after each sclerotherapy session.
After her successful varicose veins treatment, Debbie wholeheartedly recommends the procedure and would not go anywhere else to have it done.
“If you’re going to have your varicose veins done, there are many clinics you can go to,” she says. “But I would have it done by Dr. Kovacs and his team. There’s no way you can go wrong because they are so easy to deal with.”