When December skies cloud over and a chill creeps in, I often start to think of one thing: Spring Break. To me, Spring Break means sun, sand and shorts to break up the doldrums of winter.
For many women and men, the thought of warm weather clothing – namely shorts – is an uncomfortable one because they don’t like the appearance of varicose veins on their legs. A varicose vein looks like a rigid vein, or cord that has popped up below the surface of the skin. They happen when the valve in a vein weakens and allows blood to pool in an area causing swelling and sometimes discoloring.
What many think is just a cosmetic issue actually can carry painful symptoms. Those include swelling, pain, burning or constant fatigue in your lower legs.
Because people think it’s a cosmetic issue, they often assume insurance companies won’t cover the cost of treatment of varicose veins. Banner Medical Group general surgeon Brandon Butte, DO, said that assumption is false.
“It is a medical diagnosis that can cause problems,” he said. “In most cases people will have symptoms whether it’s swelling of the ankles or pain. Often, the symptoms improve quite well with treatment.”
Dr. Butte said he treats varicose veins with ablation using a catheter and heat to burn the inside of the vein and cause it to scar and close off. Because veins are expendable, and more can grow if needed, the blood will follow the path of least resistance, he said.
The risks for developing varicose veins include pregnancy with the extra weight pressing down on the veins, standing or walking for long periods and genetics. Trauma and obesity also can play a role.
For people who have symptoms and are concerned about the appearance of varicose veins, vein ablation may be a good solution. Dr. Butte said most primary care physicians can evaluate a person’s veins to determine whether treatment might be effective. Ablation is an outpatient procedure after an ultrasound evaluation.
Having the treatment has the potential to improve not only how you look, but also how you feel. And that means greater potential for a happy Spring Break!