How to Deal With Varicose Veins
Definitions: 1. Permanent dilation & tortuosity of veins, most commonly seen in the legs, probably as a result of congenitally incomplete valves. (mediLexicon)
Many women get varicose veins during pregnancy or weight gain due to the pressure placed on the Great Saphenous Vein.
However, after the baby is delivered or if the weight is lost, the valves in the Great Saphenous vein usually recover & become functional once more.
Unfortunately, a varicosed superficial vein (usually in the lower leg) is ruined permanently.
How To Deal With Varicose Veins
How Do Veins Become Varicosed?
70% of all those who’ve experienced varicose veins are women. The cause? Usually incompetent valves at the top of the Great Saphenous Vein.
Veins return blood to the heart. Between heartbeats, the leaflets of the valve (within a vein) catch & hold the "backflow" of blood until the next heartbeat. If the valves are incompetent, they no longer meet & thus can no longer catch the “backflow".
Trouble runs downhill! The “backflow” of blood pools causing damage to a superficial vein in the lower half of the leg
To accommodate the volume of blood the vein wall stretches until it's weakened & it’s valve leaflets no longer meet. The vein becomes bulbous & tortuous, in other words, varicosed. The poor vein is ruined!
Treatment is only recommended (& covered by Medical) if there are symptoms or complications such as pain, leg swelling, skin discolouration, eczema, venous ulcers or varicose vein rupture.
Recommended treatment may be in the form of:
Do you have one, or more, varicose vein(s) that you want to get rid of?
What is Sclerotherapy?
Definitions:Treatment involving the injection of a sclerosing solution into vessels or tissues. (mediLexicon)
Ask your General Practitioner for a referral to a Vascular Surgeon. If this is your first venture with a Vascular Surgeon, Sclerotherapy is the perfect non-invasive option.
If another varicose vein develops in 5 - 10 years, then you know that your Great Saphenous vein never recovered & is incompetent. Continue Sclerotherapy for as long as you’re allowed.
Sclerotherapy is a simple, non-surgical procedure used to take smaller, superficial, varicose veins out of commission. There’s almost nothing to it. It’s a quick 5-minute job!
1. You lie on a tilted table
2. The vascular surgeon injects the bottom & the top of the vein with saline solution (which renders the vein unusable)
Definitions: 1. Excision of a Saphenous vein. (mediLexicon)
Saphenectomy is a much more involved option.
First you’ll need the superior portion of Great Saphenous Vein ultra-sounded to confirm that it is indeed, incompetent. If so & your varicose veins are symptomatic, then you’re a candidate for a surgery called, Saphenectomy.
(Women should be finished having children before this surgery.)
A Saphenectomy is the surgical removal of the Great Saphenous Vein & therefore with it, the entire superficial venous system in the leg.
Will the removal of your leg's superficial venous system become a problem?
Apparently not. The deep venous system returns 99.99% of your blood back to your heart. The superficial system returns 0.01% of your blood. The deep venous system has no trouble whatsoever taking up that extra 0.01%.
Chillin' in My Recovery Room
Recovering From a Saphenectomy
Two good two weeks mostly propped up in bed with my legs up on pillows & I recovered fully.
- The incisions down the inside of the legs take at least 10 days to heal.
- There is a lot of blood under the skin & it causes painful pressure whle standing.
- Walking with proper strides – “outside walking” - is very painful.
- Shorter strides – “indoor walking” - is bearable & recommended (walk around the inside your home every 30 minutes).
I was sent home with a prescription for Tylenol with Codeine & 6 Demerol tablets. They’re still sitting in my bathroom drawer.
- A few days later, at our local pub, I sat with my legs up on a chair but had to leave because I felt dizzy & sick.
- 8 days post op I went to my clinic & saw 3 clients. I was exhausted!
- 10 days post op I saw 1 client.
- 12 days post op I did a full day at the clinic & was really tired by the end of it.
- Otherwise I stayed in bed.
One Day Post-Op
One Day Post-Op
Three Days Post-Op
18 Days Post-Op
My Unveined Outcome
I feel it’s important to note that the thoroughness, attentiveness & kindness of the hospital staff was impressive.
And I must mention that of all the treatments I received, I did not have to pay for anything. I’m Canadian, eh! And I’m so proud of it!
The only complaint I may have is that I found patient education either simple or not forthcoming.
Having said that, I’m not complaining at all because I believe that people should be accountable for their health & should educate themselves. The Internet has rendered ignorance into a mere symptom of laziness.
The information written in this article is only a small portion of what is medically known. I’ve only included that which I’ve experienced. For those who are affected, I recommend reading all the evidence-based information you can get your hands on.
Wikipedia, as always, is a wonderful overview & a great place to start.
Have you undergone treatment for your varicose veins?
- Sylvia Leong RMT CPT
- LEONG Orthopaedic Health
Tackling health & lifestyle concerns with the written word.
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© 2012 Sylvia Leong