SSM Health Medical Minute: Treatment options for varicose veins

ST. LOUIS - If you have pain, swelling, or cramping in the legs after walking, or wounds on your feet that just cannot seem to heal, you could be suffering from vascular disease in your legs.

Venous disease (or venous insufficiency) is a condition caused by improper functioning of the valves in the veins of the legs.

In healthy veins, these valves close to keep blood flowing back toward the heart. When they don’t close properly, blood can pool in the legs causing high venous pressure and the many symptoms of venous insufficiency. The most recognized sign of the venous disease is varicose veins, but the condition can also cause heavy, achy, tired legs, as well as swelling, leg cramps, or restless legs that can interfere with daily activities or sleep.

While the spider veins and varicose veins that result from venous insufficiency may initially be considered a cosmetic problem, the condition tends to worsen over time. If left untreated, this can lead to more serious health with changes to the skin of the lower legs resulting in discoloration or even ulcers, so don’t ignore your symptoms.

In its early stages, self-care techniques focused on improving blood flow can help relieve symptoms including wearing compression stockings, keeping your legs elevated when possible and regular exercise.

If your symptoms get worse or these techniques fail to relieve your symptoms, Dr. Keith Pereria, a SLUCare Interventional Radiologist at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital has treatment options that can fix the issues that allow patients to relieve the pain and get back on their feet through minimally invasive surgery called endovenous ablation.

It’s a procedure to permanently close poorly functioning veins. A radiofrequency catheter is inserted to heat and seal the problem vein. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia with minimal sedation and can significantly improve or even resolve symptoms.

“"What we do is go in a small hole in the groin. It is not a surgical procedure. We put in very tiny wires and they go in the leg to open up the blockages to restore the blood flow. The varicose vein then disappears in a couple of days,” Dr. Pereria says.

To find out more about the vascular options to treat your evaluation, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​

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