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Are your varicose veins a symptom of underlying vascular disease?


Published: Sun, December 22, 2019 1:06 AM Updated: Sun, December 22, 2019 1:31 AM

Varicose veins may not only be unsightly but also may indicate a more serious vascular problem. Often, varicose veins are dismissed as a cosmetic procedure that would not be covered by health insurance. That’s the caution offered by physicians at the CardioVascular Health Clinic in Oklahoma City.

Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that can be seen under the skin. They are often red, purple or blue in color. They most often appear in the legs, but can occur in other parts of the body. While they are mostly benign, they can cause other symptoms such as leg swelling, heaviness, fatigue and muscle cramps.

CardioVascular Health Clinic has two physicians offering minimally invasive procedures to treat varicose veins, Dr. Jim Melton, board certified in general and vascular surgery, and Dr. Blake Parsons, board certified in vascular and interventional radiology.

“What makes our approach so unique is we look beyond the cosmetic correction of varicose veins and treat the underlying condition,” Dr. Parsons said. “If only the varicose vein is treated, and not the underlying condition, the varicose veins will often reoccur.”

Dr. Parsons explained what causes varicose veins. Normally, the one-way valves in the leg veins keep blood moving up toward the heart and prevent blood pooling in the legs. When the valves do not work properly, they allow blood to back up into the vein. The vein swells from the increase in pressure which causes varicose veins. Some risk factors include prolonged standing or sitting, family history, pregnancy, obesity and a history of blood clots. Symptoms include:

  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in the lower legs.

  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing.

  • Itching.

  • Bleeding from varicose veins.

  • A painful cord in the vein with red discoloration of the skin.

If left untreated, venous insufficiency can lead to inflammation of the skin with development of skin ulcers which require medical attention. Doctors at CardioVascular Health Clinic utilize image-guided technology to diagnose and treat varicose veins, minimizing risk, pain and recovery time in comparison to open surgery. Procedures are performed in an outpatient setting, typically taking approximately 20 minutes with no postoperative downtime.

Varicose vein patient William Herron shared his story, “I was in the Navy for 26 years and developed painful, bulging varicose veins due to standing on decks for many long hours. I originally had my varicose veins treated 20 years ago, but was not at all satisfied with the results.

“After meeting Dr. Parsons, I learned that treatment is very different today than it was 20 years ago. Even though I was reluctant to try treatment again, I went ahead and scheduled the procedure, and I’ve been very pleased with the results. And since I’m retired, I was able to use both Medicare and TriCare to pay for the treatment, so it was $0 out of pocket for me.”

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