Varicose veins are a common condition that affects up to 35% of the adult population in the United States. Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, and bulging veins that usually occur in the legs and feet. They can be a cosmetic concern, but they can also cause discomfort, pain, and swelling.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for varicose veins, including lifestyle changes, compression stockings, and office based procedures such as radio frequency ablation and sclerotherapy to treat the veins. However, one question that many people have is how long these treatments last and how common it is for varicose veins to recur?
Types of Varicose Vein Treatments
First, let’s look at the different treatments available for varicose veins and how they work.
Lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, can help alleviate symptoms of varicose veins. However, lifestyle changes alone may help reduce symptoms but they do not generally make varicose veins go away.
Compression stockings are a non-invasive treatment that can help improve blood flow and reduce symptoms of varicose veins. These stockings work by applying pressure to the legs, which helps to compress the veins and improve blood flow. Compression stockings can be worn during the day, and some people wear them at night as well. Again, they generally reduce symptoms but do not make the veins go away and do not like prevent recurrence after prior treatment.
Office-Based Varicose Vein Procedures
Office based procedures for varicose veins include sclerotherapy, endovenous treatments such as radio frequency ablation (RFA) and ambulatory phlebectomy. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the affected vein, causing it to collapse and eventually fade away. RFA uses a gentle heat after a local anesthetic and seals the affected vein, while ambulatory phlebectomy involves removing the affected vein through small incisions in the skin.
How Effective Are Varicose Vein Treatments?
The effectiveness of these treatments can vary depending on the severity of the varicose veins and the type of treatment used. So, how long do these treatments last, and how common is it for varicose veins to recur?
The answer is that it depends on the individual case and how completely they were treated at the initial treatment. The recurrence rate for varicose veins generally return in about half of patients within 10 years. This means half do not return. It also means some take longer to have a recurrence and some a shorter period of time.
It’s important to note that the recurrence of varicose veins does not necessarily mean that the original treatment was unsuccessful. Usually new varicose veins can form in other areas of the legs or feet, or existing veins can become enlarged again over time. The good news is that when indicated, it is not a big deal to treat again later if needed.
Ultimately the message is that like many medical procedures, these are treatments, not a cure, and in some cases more treatment maybe needed in the future.
In conclusion, varicose vein treatments can be effective in reducing symptoms and improving the appearance of varicose veins. However, the effectiveness of length of relief can vary depending on the individual case, the type and completeness of treatment and it is important to recognize there is always a chance of recurrence. However, one can generally be treated again later if needed.