2019 10 11
Doctor shatters the myths about varicose veins
Vascular Diseases, Varicose Veins
Varicose veins or enlargement of the veins are first of all perceived as an aesthetically distressing phenomenon, and only a few people realize that it is a much deeper and possibly even life-threatening condition. Vascular surgeon Nerijus Bičkauskas who practices at the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre claims that varicose veins and their treatment methods are still surrounded by all kinds of myths, and that is why surgeons constantly come across neglected cases that have already become dangerous. Below Dr. Bičkauskas explains what most patients think of this condition and the methods for treating it.
Varicose veins are more common in women: MYTH
Varicose veins affect both men and women. Statistics show that women are more frequently diagnosed with the condition, but this is only because they take better care of their health and see the doctor sooner. Men tend to neglect their condition and often wait until they are older.
Varicose veins are only an aesthetic problem: MYTH
“Varicose veins occur when the movement of blood in the veins is disrupted. It is a serious condition. It makes your legs painful and constantly tired. Sometimes there are no overt signs of the disease on the legs, but the trunk of the vein has already sustained damage. The most dangerous consequence is the formation of blood clots that can travel to the lungs and block an artery causing sudden death. Ulcers that are hard or impossible to heal can also occur on the calves of the legs. Obvious varices on the calves or bulging swollen veins lying just underneath the surface of the skin, and looking like a cosmetic eyesore, prompt patients to see doctors sooner rather than later. However, behind all the above there are usually deeper vein conditions, not so obvious to the naked eye,“ says vascular surgeon Nerijus Bičkauskas.
Surgical vein treatment is not complicated: CONDITIONALLY TRUE
Deep veins – stumps or trunk veins are surgically treated with laser or vein glue. Such surgeries are minimally invasive and traumatizing, they are efficient and allow for pain-free recovery. From the patient’s point of view, this surgery is uncomplicated. However, it is essential for varicose veins to be treated by a highly experienced surgeon, and even better if he or she specializes in vein care. Accurate diagnostic tests must be carried out and problem areas identified before the surgery. “Modern diagnostic equipment is a huge help to the surgeon. At the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre we use the duplex ultrasound scanner, also employed at the most advanced clinics worldwide, which allows for a thorough examination of the venous system and application of treatment exactly where it is needed,” says vascular surgeon N. Bičkauskas.
Vascular surgery is followed by prolonged and difficult recovery: MYTH
The doctor notes that owing to the advancement of diagnostics in recent decades, varicose vein treatment methods have undergone essential changes. Previously popular open varicose stripping when damaged veins were physically pulled out and the following recovery took several months, was replaced with modern laser procedures and special glue allowing for the vein to be closed up inside the body. The surgery takes only 20–40 minutes and the patient can go back to work the same day.
Laser treatment is suitable for superficial vein and varices treatment: MYTH
Superficial veins and varices are treated with medicine injections – sclerotherapy, and not lasers. Dr. N. Bičkauskas who has over 25 years of experience in this field observes that good results can only be achieved with consistent treatment, i.e. the initial problem must be first of all eliminated in the stump, which will make up to 60% of the visible varicose veins disappear by themselves. The remaining veins have to be treated with sclerotherapy. If the problem is purely esthetical, i.e. treatment of trunks is not required, superficial veins are still treated with medicine injections and not the laser. The surgeon emphasized that varicose veins must be treated by professional surgeons, and not at beauty salons.
Patients need to rest and avoid walking after surgery: MYTH
Movement is the best prevention of vein surgery complications and for this reason, we do not put patients to sleep. After the surgery, the patient gets up and starts walking straight away. This is not difficult because the patient feels no pain either during the surgery or after. It is just the opposite – the dull aching pain goes away leaving the patient to enjoy the freedom of movement. One of the main advantages of laser or glue treatment is that patients can start walking as soon as they get off the operating table.
Varicose veins do not reoccur: CONDITIONALLY TRUE
Following the correct surgery, varicose veins in the same area do not reoccur. However, if the patient has a tendency to varicose veins, the problem may emerge in a different place. “In this case, further surgery is required as enlarged veins do not shrink by themselves and surgical treatment is unavoidable. If the orthodontist treats one tooth, it does not mean that other teeth will not be affected by caries. It is exactly the same as the veins, as there are more than one or two of them. If some veins become insufficient, they need to be treated,” says Dr. N. Bičkauskas.
Surgery is better performed after childbirth: MYTH
In the days of varicose veins, open surgery doctors recommended having varicose veins removed after childbirth. Modern laser or glue treatments do not cause trauma. Women do not need to wait for their children to be born before planning their vein treatment. The risk of varicose veins increases during pregnancy due to increased hormone levels and excess fluids. A check-up and surgery before becoming pregnant is a good idea, as the problem is likely to become worse later.
Varicose veins can be treated by massages, creams, or exercises: MYTH
The only way to treat varicose veins is by the intervention. Daily physical activity, gentle massages, and contrast showers help your veins to stay healthy for longer, but they cannot fix the swollen enlarged veins.
Varicose veins are genetic: TRUE
You should keep an eye on the condition of your veins if varicose veins run in your family. Also try to look for such symptoms as tired legs, dull aches in the evening, lumps or ulcers on the calves.
It is best to avoid the sauna if you have varicose veins: TRUE
The sauna makes people sweat and lose a lot of fluids, the legs become stiff due to prolonged sitting and the clotting factor level becomes elevated. Sufferers of varicose veins have an increased risk of blood clots which should be taken into consideration.