Varicose veins

Both men and women get varicose veins. While they are unattractive, they can also be dangerous and often painful. Marcie Fraser reports.

"Be fullness, they would swell and basically throb," said Erin Baker, laser ablation patient.

Varicose veins affect mostly women. Obesity and pregnancy can make them worse. There is a strong genetic link, and left untreated, severe varicose veins have risks.

Varicose veins are caused by insufficient veins. The veins in the legs have valves in them which keep the blood flowing up toward the heart, but when the valves are not working efficiently, the blood flows backwards, putting pressure on the valves, buckling them.

"The blood pressure in the leg is higher than it otherwise would be, it causes distension and distortion of the of venus circulation," said Dr. Stephen Dempsey, interventional cardiologist.

Most patients have symptoms.

"Pain in the leg, achy, burning, itching, cramping in the legs especially at night," Dr. Dempsey explained.

While you can't prevent varicose veins, you can slow down their progression.

"Maintain an active lifestyle, optimal weight," Dr. Dempsey advised.

Veins can be ablated with a laser. The office procedure takes about an hour. Using an ultrasound, the vein is located, numbed with a local anesthetic, and a laser fiber is then slid into the vein. The laser is turned on, causing heat to close down the vein, the laser is then slowly pulled out and a Band-Aid is placed on the incision and the patient is free to walk.

Many patients wonder if the circulation will be affected. If they remove one or several veins in their legs, will the circulation be affected? According to the doctor, there will certainly be a change, but for the better.

"The other veins in the individual’s leg are already working overtime, so when you ablate one of the abnormal veins, you improve the overall circulation in that person’s leg,” said Dr. Dempsey.

"Everything is great, there is no pain, no swelling," said Baker.

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