Diagnosis and Treatment of Varicose Veins | Loyola Medicine

Varicose Veins

Highly Specialized Care for Varicose Vein Diagnosis and Treatment

Varicose veins are one of the many vascular conditions diagnosed and treated by the highly skilled doctors at Loyola Medicine. Characterized by enlarged, protruding veins, varicose veins most often appear on your legs and are caused by pressure on the veins from standing. 
Your veins have one-way valves designed to keep blood flowing back to your heart from other parts of your body. If these valves are weak or damaged, blood can pool, resulting in varicose veins. Although largely cosmetic in nature, varicose veins can be painful and may lead to leg swelling, leg weakness, cyanosis, venous eczema and skin thickening.

Why Choose Loyola for Varicose Vein Treatment?

Loyola offers a variety of surgical and non-surgical treatment options for varicose veins and understands that varicose veins can be painful and can make you feel self-conscious. Your Loyola doctor is experienced and compassionate in the treatment of varicose veins and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. 

How are Varicose Veins Diagnosed?

Varicose veins are most often diagnosed with a physical exam, including examining your legs while you are standing. In addition to a physical exam looking for symptoms of blockage and vein inflammation, your doctor may also require an ultrasound to determine whether the valves in your veins are functioning correctly. 

Doctors at Loyola are expert at recognizing the symptoms of varicose veins and will perform the appropriate examinations in order to accurately diagnose your condition.

How are Varicose Veins Treated?

Varicose vein treatment depends on each individual patient and can range from self-care at home to surgical intervention. Doctors at Loyola will work with you to determine the best treatment option for your specific case.

You may be able to ease your pain and prevent any worsening of your varicose veins by implementing some self-care practices, such as:

  • Avoiding long periods of standing or sitting
  • Elevating your legs
  • Exercising
  • Losing weight
  • Not wearing tight clothing
  • Wearing compression stockings

Thanks to recent advances in surgical treatment for varicose veins, your options include minimally invasive treatments, usually performed on an outpatient basis. Your treatment options may include:

  • Catheter-assisted surgery — Large, superficial veins can be treated with a catheter with a heated tip using radio or laser waves. The heat causes the vein to collapse and eventually fade.
  • Endoscopic vein surgery — In advanced cases where leg ulcers are involved, your doctor may insert a thin video camera to see and close varicose veins. Then, the varicose veins will be removed through small incisions. This is an outpatient procedure.
  • Laser ablation — A strong burst of light is sent into the vein, causing it to fade and disappear. No incisions or needles are used.
  • Phlebectomy — Small skin punctures are used to remove small varicose veins. This procedure is outpatient, and local anesthesia may be used.
  • Radiofrequency ablation — A minimally invasive procedure which uses radiofrequency to heat and seal varicose veins. A small incision is made and a catheter is inserted into the affected vein. Radiofrequency waves are applied in 20-second increments, heating and ablating the vein in segments. Once the entire vein is ablated and closed, blood is rerouted to healthier veins.
  • Sclerotherapy — Small- and medium-sized varicose veins can be injected with a substance that forms a clot in the vein, causing it to close and eventually fade. This treatment does not require anesthesia and can be performed in your doctor’s office.
  • Vein stripping — This outpatient procedure involves the removal of a varicose vein through a small incision. The removal of a varicose vein will not adversely affect your circulation, because veins deeper within the leg will handle the blood flow.