Help for varicose veins
By Holly Galbus
Summer is here, a time to toss off the heavy winter wear and don shorts and sundresses for a day out in the sunshine. Unfortunately, for many, it can be a time of increased body consciousness, including noticing varicose veins. They’re quite common—one in five adult Americans suffer from varicose veins, defined as enlarged, distended, bulging veins, typically on the legs and feet. Varicose veins affect an estimated 40% of women and 25% of men. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the varicose veins, but for those whose veins are less prominent, commonly referred to as “spider veins” —the treatment can be relatively quick and simple.
Dr. Henna Kalsi is the founder and medical director of JRK Medicals, a new vascular medicine clinic at 2633 Superior Drive NW in Rochester. In her practice, Kalsi treats varicose veins in an outpatient, non-surgical procedure. Prior to founding JRK Medicals, Kalsi completed fellowships in vascular medicine at Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. She served as a vascular medicine consultant in the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for 10 years. She and her team treat varicose veins as an office procedure, without the need for general anesthesia and requiring little recovery time.
Kalsi begins a consultation by taking a detailed health history to determine what’s causing leg pain or other symptoms. She explains how a variety of reasons could cause swelling or pain in the legs, such as varicose veins, peripheral artery disease, lymphedema, arthritis or even problems with the thyroid or kidney. She then performs a complete physical exam, which may include an ultrasound. A discussion on a course of treatment follows the exam.
HOW VARICOSE VEINS DEVELOP
Varicose veins develop with weakened vein walls and faulty valves. Under a variety of circumstances, normally toned and elastic vein walls can become weak, allowing blood that should be moving toward your heart to flow backward. One-way valves in these veins—which open and enable blood to flow through on its way upward, then close to stop blood from flowing backward—can also fail to function properly. This allows blood to pool and pressure to build, which further weakens and damages the veins, causing them to become twisted, enlarged and painful. In addition, loss of calf-muscle pump function can affect blood return back to the heart.
COMMON PROCEDURES TO TREAT VARICOSE VEINS
For less severe varicose veins, Kalsi performs sclerotherapy. In this procedure, which takes about 20 minutes, veins are injected with a sclerosing solution that obliterates the lumen, or interior, of the vein. Most patients require two or three sessions, and touch-ups once a year may be needed. But, immediately after the procedure, most people may return to work and have no lifting restrictions. Larger veins are often treated with ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy.
For more severe varicose veins, endovenous thermal ablation is performed. This procedure has replaced the traditional “vein stripping” of the past. The procedure takes approximately 45 minutes and doesn’t require anesthesia, and patients are able to walk out of the office afterward. Most people require two to five days off from work to recover.
Kalsi says the results of vein procedures done in her office can be immediate and are more than 95% effective. There is minimal-to-no scarring. There may be slight swelling and minimal bruising around the treatment site, but once that subsides, you’ll see a significant difference in the appearance of your legs.
If you would like to explore less invasive options, a line of herbal supplements as well as compression stockings are available in the offices of JRK Medicals.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation, email contact@ jrkmedicals.com or call 507-322-6900.
Holly Galbus is a freelance writer and news reporter.