Varicose veins are not like other cosmetic concerns that might go away on their own or improve with simple, over-the-counter treatments. These bulging, ropy, dark-hued veins are more than unsightly blemishes. They can be painful or even dangerous, depending on the severity of your condition and the underlying venous disorders that may be to blame.
Without treatment, your varicose veins will not improve. In fact, symptoms could worsen over time, leading to significant impact on your life. At the very least, the unpleasant appearance of gnarled veins could erode your confidence and lead you to cover your legs, making it difficult to enjoy activities like swimming or even just staying cool during the summer.
Unfortunately, you could also experience physical symptoms like aches and pains, feelings of heaviness in the legs, swelling, burning, itching, throbbing, and/or ulcers. Whether varicose veins are merely an eyesore or you’re experiencing other symptoms, you need to see the specialists at Metro Vein Centers for diagnosis and appropriate varicose vein treatment.
After a pain-free and non-invasive exam using duplex ultrasound technology, physicians can determine the cause and severity of your condition and recommend a course of treatment. In most cases, insurance will cover the cost, and non-invasive, outpatient treatments like sclerotherapy, endovenous laser treatment, or ambulatory phlebectomy can be completed in under an hour, after which you’ll begin the recovery process.
In order to see the best results, however, you need to adhere to prescribed recovery directions. These can vary based on the varicose vein treatment you receive, as well as your own ability to heal. However, most recoveries proceed on a predictable timeline. Here’s what you need to know about aftercare following your varicose vein treatment.
Sclerotherapy is among the most common varicose vein treatments used today, and it involves the use of sclerosant substances injected into veins to cause them to collapse and be reabsorbed into the body. This treatment could take as little as about 10-30 minutes in office, and it may or may not require local anesthesia, depending on your level of sensitivity.
Once you have completed the treatment, you will be directed to wear compression stockings for several days afterward. You should be able to stand and walk with ease following the procedure and you’ll likely be able to return to normal activities within 24 hours. Your physician at Metro Vein Centers will advise you to avoid strenuous activities like heavy lifting and exercise for the first week, although you will probably want to walk for a few minutes at a time, several times a day to speed the recovery process.
You’ll also want to avoid sun exposure, as well as immersion in water for several days. After about two weeks, most patients are fully recovered, although you may notice bruising on the legs for about 6-8 weeks, or perhaps a bit longer. You may need multiple treatments to completely get rid of varicose veins, especially extremely enlarged veins.
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)
This form of non-invasive varicose vein treatment has become much more popular in recent years thanks to advances in laser technologies. EVLT involves the use of lasers that are inserted into veins to deliver energy that collapses and seals the veins. This not only reduces bleeding and recovery time, but it also allows the veins to be harmlessly reabsorbed into the body, just as in sclerotherapy. Treatment can be completed by the specialists at Metro Vein Centers in as little as about 45 minutes and it requires only local anesthetic.
Following the outpatient procedure, you can return home to recuperate, and you’ll be directed to wear compression stockings for up to two weeks, although you may be able to remove them at night, depending on instructions. During this time you’ll also want to avoid strenuous activities and steer clear of immersion in water, especially in hot water. Although intense exercise should be avoided, patients are encouraged to spend time walking each day. This not only helps with recovery, but it’s also an essential part of avoiding potential complications, such as blood clots.
Some discomfort in the days following treatment is normal, and it is generally easily treated with the use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Most patients are able to return to normal activities within just a couple of days, but it could take up to about a week. Patients usually experience a full recovery within about four weeks.
Although this varicose vein treatment involves the use of tiny incisions, it is still considered a minimally-invasive alternative to surgeries of old, like vein stripping. Like EVLT, this treatment requires only local anesthesia to complete. Unlike sclerotherapy and EVLT, varicose veins will be removed through small incisions, rather than collapsed. In many cases, ambulatory phlebectomy is used in tandem with EVLT to achieve the best overall results.
This procedure can take up to about an hour in-office, depending on the particular case, and it is an outpatient procedure, so you can return home afterward. Following ambulatory phlebectomy, your legs will be wrapped in a 3-layer dressing, which should remain on for 24 hours. Upon removal, patients will be required to wear compression stockings for about two weeks. Most patients can return to regular activities, including work, in about 2-3 days, but you should avoid strenuous activities for the first week. As with other procedures, avoiding immersion in water for several days is advised.
It’s normal to experiences some drainage for up to 48 hours following this varicose vein treatment, so don’t be surprised to feel some dampness on the dressing, and later, compression stockings. Some discomfort immediately following the procedure is normal, and this can be alleviated by taking ibuprofen and elevating the legs. However, physicians encourage patients to walk for at least 30 minutes daily during the first two weeks to aid in recovery. Incision sites should heal within two weeks, with complete recovery in about six weeks.
In all cases, following instructions is of the utmost importance to minimize recovery time and maximize results. With proper care, you could see significant improvement in symptoms almost immediately, with full recovery in just a few weeks. From there you can return to your normal life and begin enjoying the apparel and activities you may have had to give up because of varicose veins.
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