How Lasers Have Revolutionized Varicose Vein Treatment
Varicose veins are a daily struggle for millions of people. They can cause pain, throbbing, aching, tingling, itchiness, cramping, heaviness, throbbing and swelling in the legs. Despite having a big impact on many people’s daily quality of life, a lot of misconceptions still surround what causes them and how they are treated.
Varicose veins are caused by valves in your veins that don’t properly open and close allowing blood to pool in the legs instead of flowing back to the heart. In the past, the only way to treat this was with an in-patient surgical procedure known as vein stripping. New technological breakthroughs have changed treatment into a minimally invasive outpatient procedure done in a doctor’s office. Northern Arizona Radiology offers the most state-of-the-art vein treatment in the region using a VenaCure laser.
Using ultrasound guidance, a radiologist inserts a thin laser fiber into the diseased vein through a tiny incision near the knee. The heat from the laser seals off the vein and the body immediately reroutes blood into healthy veins in the legs.
“Most patients are very surprised to find they can walk out of our office right after the procedure and resume their normal daily lives,” said Northern Arizona Radiologist Stephen V. Ward, M.D. “In most cases, they experience complete relief from their symptoms after the first treatment.”
What risk factors lead to varicose veins:
- Age: As you age the valves in your veins weaken and don’t work as well.
- Genetics: About 50% of people who have varicose veins have a family member that suffers from them too.
- Obesity: Carrying extra weight puts extra pressure on your veins and over time can lead to the formation of varicose veins.
- Lack of movement: Sitting or standing for a long time may force your veins to work harder to pump blood to your heart.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy there is a significant increase in the amount of blood in a woman’s body which can put additional pressure on the veins causing varicose and spider veins.
“Many people assume varicose veins are just something you have to put up with,” said Ward. “We want anyone suffering from them to know treatment is nearly painless and in many cases is covered by insurance. There is no reason to let varicose veins impact your quality of life.”
Left untreated, symptoms can grow worse over time. In extreme cases, discoloration of the leg, skin rashes, ulcers and blood clots can develop.
Stephen Ward, M.D.
Dr. Stephen Ward, born in Georgia, graduated from the medical college of Georgia in 1988. He completed his residency in Diagnostic Radiology at the Medical College of Georgia in 1993. He is certified with The American Board of Radiology. He has been a member of Northern Arizona Radiology since 1993.