Fort Memorial Hospital
611 Sherman Avenue East
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538
(920) 568-5000 | La linea de mensajes: (920) 568-5001

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Understanding Venous Reflux Disease and Varicose Veins

Healthy leg veins contain valves that open and close to assist the return of blood back to the heart. Venous reflux disease develops when the valves that keep blood flowing out of the legs and back to the hear become damaged or diseased. As a result, vein valves will not close properly, leading to symptoms of:

  • Varicose veins
  • Pain
  • Swollen limbs
  • Leg heaviness and fatigue
  • Skin changes and skin ulcers

Symptoms can worsen over time if left untreated.

In varicose veins, these valves become weakened and fail to work properly. Free to flow downward, blood pools behind the door of the valve, causing the vein to swell and become distorted.  Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a condition that means there is a long-term problem with the veins not being able to pump blood back to your heart. When this happens, blood stays in the legs and causes swelling and aching.

Possible causes of varicose veins include:

  • Family history
  • Circulatory problems
  • Age – over time, the walls of the veins lose elasticity and weaken
  • Factors such as pregnancy, excess weight, tight-fitting clothes and standing for long periods of time – all of which restrict blood flow or increase pressure on veins, causing them to weaken.

Women are two to four times more likely than men to develop varicose veins. Why? Experts believe hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause may be party to blame.

Self-Care Strategies

Here are some strategies to help keep varicose veins from worsening – and possibly prevent them in the first place:

  • Wear support stockings during the day, but avoid ones that end at the knee – these can cut off circulation to the lower leg.
  • Elevate your legs higher than your heart for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day.
  • Exercise regularly to increase circulation in your legs.
  • Avoid crossing your legs, and frequently flex your feet and ankles when sitting.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid tight clothing around your waist, hips and legs.
  • Don’t sit or stand in one position for a long time.
  • Sleep with your feet propped on a pillow.

If varicose veins cause you discomfort, you may want to speak with your healthcare provider about treatment options. Also, seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, inflammation, bleeding or open sores near a vein.

Medical Treatments

Traditionally, people with venous reflux disease would undergo vein stripping surgery, but modern advances have made other treatments available. Individuals can be treated with a minimally-invasive and more comfortable alternative to painful vein stripping surgery with either ClosureFast™ or VenaSeal™ procedures.

The ClosureFast™ procedure uses controlled and consistent heat to close the diseased vein. The VenaSeal™ closure system uses a proprietary medical adhesive to close the diseased vein. More information can be reviewed about these procedures on Medtronic’s website.

Minimally Invasive

These procedures eliminate the need for groin surgery and general anesthesia, and are generally performed using local anesthesia in a vein specialist’s office or an outpatient surgical facility. The procedure takes approximately 45-60 minutes and most patients typically spend two to three hours at the medical facility due to normal pre- and post-treatment procedures.

Less Pain, Less Bruising, Faster Recovery

Studies show that these procedures are associated with lower rates of pain, bruising and complications and a faster improvement in your quality of life when compared to laser ablation.  The average patient typically resumes normal activities within a few days following treatment, and most patients report a noticeable improvement in their symptoms within 1-2 weeks after the procedure.

Bill Kontny, MD with Fort HealthCare Surgical Associates provides these varicose vein treatments. Contact the clinic to schedule a consultation appointment and discuss what treatment options may work best for you.