How do varicose veins form?

Normally, one-way valves in the veins keep blood flowing toward the heart, against the force of gravity. When the valves become weak and don't close properly, they allow blood to flow backward, a condition called reflux. Veins that have lost their valve effectiveness, become elongated, rope-like, bulged, and thickened. These enlarged, swollen vessels are known as varicose veins.
(Reprinted with permission from the Society of Interventional Radiology 2004, 2010,; All rights reserved.)

What is Endovenous Thermal Ablation?

Using ultrasound, a physician places a catheter into the varicose vein through a small opening in the skin. The tiny catheter, powered by radiofrequency (RF) energy or laser, delivers heat to the vein wall. As the thermal energy is delivered, the vein wall shrinks and the vein is sealed closed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood is re-routed to other healthy veins.

What is Ambulatory Phlebectomy?

A minimally invasive surgical technique is used to treat varicose veins not caused by saphenous vein reflux.The abnormal vein is removed through a tiny incision or incisionsusing a special set of tools. The procedure is done under local anesthesia, and typically takes under an hour. Recovery is rapid, and most patients do not need to interrupt regular activity after the procedure.
(Reprinted with permission from the Society of Interventional Radiology 2004, 2010,; All rights reserved.)

What is Sclerotherapy?

An extremely fine needle is used to inject the problem varicose or spider vein with a solution which shrinks the vein.
(Reprinted with permission from the Society of Interventional Radiology 2004, 2010,; All rights reserved.)

What are common risk factors for varicose veins?

Age, family history, gender, and pregnancy, especially multiple pregnancies are common risk factors for varicose veins.

Besides visible signs, what other symptoms can accompany varicose veins?

Symptoms caused by venous insufficiency and varicose veins include aching leg pain, easy leg fatigue, and leg heaviness, all of which worsen as the day progresses.  Many people find they need to sit down in the afternoon and elevate their legs to relieve these symptoms. In more severe cases, venous insufficiency and reflux can cause skin discoloration and ulceration which may be very difficult to treat. People without visible varicose veins can still have symptoms. These symptoms can arise from spider veins as well as from varicose veins because, in both cases, symptoms are caused by pressure on nerves by dilated veins.

How long before I see results from my procedure?

There may be some slight swelling and bruising right after the procedure, but patients start seeing results quickly.

How is endovenous thermal ablation different from vein stripping?

During vein stripping, incisions are made in the groin and calf and a stripper tool is threaded through the diseased vein to pull it out of the leg. On the contrary, during the ablation procedure, only one small incision is made at the insertion site. The vein is closed and left in place. This minimally invasive approach eliminates pain and bruising associated with vein stripping.

Will my insurance cover this procedure?

Our office-based vascular procedures are covered by most insurance companies. Specifics of insurance coverage will vary from plan to plan. For more information, visit us online at or contact our office at (208) 535-5959.

The Vascular Institute has successfully treated thousands of patients with vascular disorders since 2003.
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