Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are unsightly. But they can also be quite painful, causing throbbing, aching, cramping—even burning sensations. Fortunately, Charlotte Radiology offers minimally invasive procedures that can treat the pain at its source and provide lasting relief. Learn more about treatment options here, or schedule a consultation today.

» What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are the most obvious and visual symptom of vein disease. They can occur when the valves in leg veins become weak or diseased and no longer function properly, causing blood to pool. This abnormal collection will push the vein walls outward, causing the vein to enlarge and bulge.

But not everyone suffers from visible indications of vein disease. Other symptoms include sensations in the leg(s) such as aching, burning, cramping, fatigued or heavy legs, and possible skin discoloration and/or open sores.

Millions of men and women suffer from varicose veins. More than 50% of women and up to 45% of men in the United States suffer from some type of vein condition. Risk factors include medical and hereditary history, increasing age, hormonal changes, pregnancy, obesity, immobility and sun exposure.

» How are varicose veins diagnosed?

Varicose veins can be diagnosed from a regular physician's exam. In many cases the patient will have an ultrasound, which provides visuals of the vein's structure and blood flow. A physician's referral is not required for a consultation with one of our interventional radiologists. An Interventional Radiologist is a physician who specializes in using imaging tools to see inside the body system and treat varicose veins non-surgically.

During the initial consultation, our physicians will carefully examine your medical history, map out your veins and areas that could be problematic, and perhaps recommend an ultrasound to rule out any deeper issues. If they determine you are a candidate for endovenous ablation, a more detailed ultrasound will be scheduled prior to the treatment.

» What treatments are available for varicose veins?

Endovenous ablation is a minimally-invasive treatment option for patients who suffer from painful and unsightly varicose veins. This technique offers a high success rate of 98% and significant advantages over traditional methods. The entire procedure, from start to finish, takes about an hour and brings little to no pain. Using ultrasound guidance, your physician will insert a small optic fiber into the varicose vein. Once the laser is activated, it heats the vein; then, as the laser is removed, it closes the vein. Once the vein is closed, the blood that was circulating though the impaired vein is naturally rerouted to other healthy veins.

» How do I prepare?

At Charlotte Radiology we provide you with a dedicated Vein services coordinator. This will be your first point of contact and will serve as the ongoing liaison between physician and patient. This coordinator is available to help schedule appointments and obtain insurance approvals. Prior to your endovenous ablation treatment, you will be required to purchase prescription-strength compression stockings. It is important to have your prescription filled a week prior, unless otherwise instructed by your physician, in order to allow extra time in the event your size is not in stock and needs to be reordered. If you already have compression stockings, please bring them to your consultation so that we may confirm they are adequate.

Please arrange to have a driver following your endovenous ablation procedure. Your driver is required to be with you at check-in. Then, once we begin the procedure, he or she may leave and return pick you up later.

Shower and wash your legs thoroughly the day of the procedure. Do NOT apply lotion, cream or powder to your legs. Bring loose fitting pants to wear home.

» What should I expect?

Endovenous ablation is a procedure that takes about 45 minutes; however, the entire appointment will last approximately two hours. Endovenous ablation uses laser energy delivered in a thin fiber-optic probe to treat the underlying cause of the varicose veins. Performed under ultrasound guidance, the procedure uses strictly local anesthetic.

Prior to the procedure you will be given a mild sedative, Xanax or Valium, to help you relax without putting you to sleep. You will be awake and comfortable during the procedure. We will mark your vein using ultrasound to prep you for the procedure. During the procedure, the area of the leg affected is locally anesthetized or numbed using Lidocaine, and a small catheter is inserted. You will then be injected with a diluted solution of Lidocaine along the vein, from the injection site to the groin area. Next a thin laser is inserted into the catheter and pulled down the saphenous vein to the injection site; this may take one to three minutes, depending on the length of the vein. The laser is then withdrawn from the body, which closes the impaired vein, and a small dressing will be placed on your insertion site. Your body will naturally use other healthy veins to return blood to the heart. We will help you put on your compression hose, and then you may get dressed. You will be asked to walk on a treadmill for 15 minutes.

Without the complications of more invasive surgery, results of endovenous ablation have been extremely favorable, with success rates as high as 98%. Endovenous ablation will normally treat the cause of most varicose veins; however, in some cases patients may require additional therapies or procedures to complete the treatment plan. Often this additional treatment is sclerotherapy, which is also available at the Charlotte Radiology Vein Center.

» What happens after my procedure?

Following your endovenous ablation procedure, you must wear your compression stockings and dressings for the first 24 hours to help healing and decrease swelling. After 24 hours, you may remove the stockings and dressing to bathe and sleep; however, you must wear the compression stockings at all other times over the course of two weeks. You may resume normal activity after your procedure, but no strenuous or heavy lifting for two weeks. If you experience any discomfort, you may take Tylenol or ibuprofen. Soreness will likely disappear after 24 hours. Mild soreness may last for seven to 10 days.

To evaluate the success of your procedure, you will be scheduled for an ultrasound two weeks after completion.

» Which locations offer Endovenous Ablation?

» How do I make an appointment?

To schedule your initial consultation, please call 704-367-7877, or schedule your appointment online.