Varicose veins usually develop in the legs. They often stick out and are blue in color.
Normally, valves in your veins keep your blood flowing up toward the heart, so the blood does not collect in one place.
The valves in varicose veins are either damaged or missing. This causes the veins to become filled with blood, especially when you are standing.
The following non-invasive (non-surgical) treatments for varicose veins can be done in a doctor's office or clinic. You will receive local anesthesia to numb your leg. You will be awake, but will not feel pain.
Sclerotherapy works best for spider veins. These are small varicose veins.
Your doctor will inject salt water (saline) or a chemical solution into the varicose vein.
The vein will harden and then disappear.
Laser treatment can be used on the surface of the skin. Small bursts of light make small varicose veins disappear.
Phlebectomy treats surface varicose veins. Very small cuts are made near the damaged vein. Then the vein is removed. One method uses a light under the skin to guide treatment.
This may be done along with other procedures, such as ablation.
Ablation uses intense heat to treat the vein. There are two methods. One uses radiofrequency energy and the other uses laser energy. During these procedures:
Your doctor will puncture the varicose vein.
Your doctor will thread a flexible tube (catheter) through the vein up to your groin.
The catheter will send intense heat to the vein. The heat will close off and destroy the vein and the vein will disappear over time.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Your doctor may recommend varicose vein therapy to treat:
Varicose veins that cause problems with blood flow
Leg pain and feeling of heaviness
Skin changes or skin sores that are caused by too much pressure in the veins
Blood clots or swelling in the veins
To make your leg look better
These treatments are generally safe. Ask your doctor about specific problems that you might have.
Goldman MP, Guex JJ, Weiss RA. Sclerotherapy: Treatment of Varicose and Telangiectatic Leg Veins. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011.
Nijsten T, van den Bos RR, Goldman MP, et al. Minimally invasive techniques in the treatment of saphenous varicose veins. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009;60:110-119.
John A. Daller, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Chester, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.