Pros and Cons of Varicose Vein Treatments

May 7th 2016

Talk to your doctor about which varicose vein treatment may work best for you. The type of treatment could vary based on the location of the veins, the size and the severity of varicose veins. Doctors might recommend more than one treatment option if successive attempts to alleviate the problem fail.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes often represent the first treatment method doctors use for varicose veins. Avoid standing or sitting for long periods without taking a break. Do physical activities to improve muscle tone in your legs. Lose weight if you are obese or overweight to improve blood flow. Avoid tight-fitting clothing around the waist and do not wear high-heeled shoes for long periods.

The downside to lifestyle changes includes the time it takes to see results. Losing weight may take months. You might also have to buy new clothing to stop wearing tight clothes.


Sclerotherapy uses one of several kinds of liquid chemicals to close off a varicose vein. The substance causes irritation and scarring that makes the vein close itself from the rest of the leg. This procedure treats very small veins and spider veins. Your doctor may need several therapies to close off a single vein, and these procedures typically occur every four to six weeks. Immediately after the treatment, elastic bandaging helps decrease swelling in the affected leg.

The main side effect of sclerotherapy revolves around a possible allergic reaction to the chemicals injected into the vein. Sodium tetradecyl sulfate may cause severe reactions in people who are already prone to allergies. Drugs could burn the skin or lead to brown spots on the surface if the needles are not inserted properly. Sclerotherapy could also lead to blood clots.

Laser Treatments

Laser treatments apply light energy to the small varicose vein. The light makes the vein slowly fade away or disappear over time. Scarring may occur on the surface of the skin or change the color of the skin. Laser procedures do not require any incisions, injections or anesthesia.


Surgery may be needed for stubborn veins or severe varicose veins in the legs. An ambulatory phlebectomy occurs when your doctor makes small cuts to the skin to remove small veins. A local anesthetic is applied, and this procedure happens at your doctor's office. Vein stripping and litigation works for severe cases during which the surgeon ties veins and then removes them from the leg. Patients are given general anesthetics for this procedure.

Side effects of surgery include scarring at the incision site and possible blood clots. Vomiting, nausea and post-operative wound infections may occur from vein stripping surgery.


Varicose veins commonly occur when blood vessels become enlarged and twisted. This condition happens in the lower extremities because standing increases blood pressure in the veins in that part of the body. Doctors have various treatments for varicose veins depending on the severity of the damage. A mild version of varicose veins, known as spider veins, may just be a cosmetic concern rather than a medical problem.

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