|Dr. Carter Freiburg (left) and Dr. Peter Mackrell|
Varicose veins occur when the valves controlling blood flow through the veins don’t work properly. They leak and blood collects in the veins, putting them under pressure and causing them to become weak, enlarged and painful.
“It’s a common misconception that varicose veins are a purely cosmetic concern,” says Carter B. Freiburg, MD, a vascular surgeon at Vascular Surgery Associates on the GBMC campus. “Not only can they cause serious discomfort that interferes with daily activities, they also have a psychological impact that can affect a patient’s quality of life.”
Treat the Cause, Relieve the Symptoms
Vascular Surgery Associates offers options that treat the root cause—the leaky valves in the veins. The first step is conservative treatment. An in-office ultrasound pinpoints leaky veins. Patients then wear compression stockings, elevate their legs and take non-steroidal anti-inﬂammatory medications for about three months.
“If conservative treatment does not provide the level of relief patients want, there are a number of minimally invasive procedures we can perform in our office or the outpatient surgical setting to close the vein with leaky valves,” explains Peter J. Mackrell, MD, Chief of Vascular Surgery at GBMC and a vascular surgeon at Vascular Surgery Associates. “These procedures use local anesthetic or a light sedative, cause very little discomfort and take about 30 minutes. There are no sutures or staples, just gauze dressings and an ace bandage on the leg for a day. Patients are generally back at work in about two days.”
Minimally invasive treatments include:
- Saphenous vein ablation: A laser heats and closes the vein. Blood drains into deeper veins, relieving pressure on the varicose veins, allowing them to shrink.
- Sclerotherapy: After saphenous vein ablation, if the patient has spider veins that are too small for excision, the spider veins are injected with a tiny needle that delivers a fluid called a sclerosant. This fluid seals the spider veins shut and they are then no longer visible.
- Vein excision: After ablation or sclerotherapy, removal of the varicose veins through tiny micro-incisions may be appropriate. Recovery takes only 2 ½ days and involves little post-operative discomfort.
- Topical laser treatment: This option diminishes the appearance of spider veins and is used for certain spider veins that are not good candidates for sclerotherapy and spider veins in other areas, such as the face.
“If you want to explore treatment options for varicose veins, you’ll find full-service vascular care in our comfortable office setting at GBMC,” adds Dr. Freiburg.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Freiburg or Dr. Mackrell at their office in Physicians Pavilion West on the GBMC campus, call Vascular Surgery Associates at 410-825-4928.