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What can I do about varicose veins?

Varicose veins occur for many reasons, but perhaps the most telling factor is heredity. Other reasons some people develop this condition include age, gender, pregnancy, obesity, physical trauma and standing for long periods.

Varicose veins are caused by a malfunction referred to as venous reflux disease. Normally, the valves of a healthy vein open and close to push blood into the heart. In the case of venous reflux disease, however, the valves no longer open and close properly, and instead allow blood to flow backward into the legs. Varicose veins become more prominent and often more painful as increasing amounts of excess blood pool in the leg veins.

However, those who suffer with varicose veins don’t have to live with them. Endovenous Laser Treatment, a new, minimally invasive treatment now allows patients to have the veins removed in a quick, relatively pain-free procedure with impressive results. Endovenous Laser Treatment is the process by which a thin, laser fiber is guided by ultrasound into the great saphenous vein—a large vein that runs the length of the leg from groin to foot. The laser renders the vein inactive by gently heating and closing it. Once the vein is closed, venous reflux can no longer occur and blood is simply rerouted to other healthy veins. Without a source of blood, the varicose vein essentially disappears from sight.

For most people, this technique is a welcome alternative to surgical ligation or vein stripping and radio frequency electrosurgery. The success rate for Endovenous Laser Treatment is as high as 98 percent— measurably better than, other, more invasive options.

If you would like to learn more about treating varicose veins or to schedule an appointment with an East Jefferson General Hospital cardiovascular surgeon, please call (504) 456-5000 or visit www.ejgh.org.

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