Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are visible through the skin. They may appear as blue or purple twisted, knot-like cords Learn how varicose veins are diagnosed and treated by the vascular surgery team with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence.

Varicose veins can occur anywhere in the body, but are more commonly found on the legs. The vascular surgery team with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence provides innovative treatment for varicose veins. 

About varicose veins

Blood in the legs is moved up toward the heart by one-way valves in the veins. When the one-way valves become weakened or damaged, blood can collect in the veins, causing them to become enlarged. Sitting or standing for long periods can cause blood to pool in the leg veins. This increases the pressure within the veins and stretches them. This stretching of the veins may weaken the walls of the veins and damage the valves. Thick varicose veins or spider veins (a mild type of varicose veins) may result.

Symptoms associated with varicose veins

The most common varicose veins symptoms include:

  • Color changes in the skin
  • Sores on the legs
  • Rash
  • Sensations in the legs, such as a heavy feeling, burning and/or aching

Treatment options for varicose veins

Prescription compression stockings are always the first course of treatment. If they do not help, many procedures are available. Vascular surgeons with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence perform hundreds of procedures every year. Your vascular surgeon may consult with other highly skilled specialists from the Institute for Surgical Excellence. This institute approach provides unmatched surgical expertise and the latest diagnosis and treatment options from across our network.

We offer many minimally invasive treatment options for varicose veins:

  • Laser treatment: During laser treatment, a tiny fiber is inserted into a varicose vein through a thin, flexible tube (catheter). The fiber sends out energy that kills the diseased portion of your varicose vein. The vein closes and slowly fades from view under the skin.
  • Phlebectomy: During phlebectomy, smaller varicose veins are removed through a series of tiny skin punctures. A high-powered light may be used to illuminate veins during this procedure.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: Radiofrequency ablation is performed under local anesthesia in the doctor’s office. A small, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted through a tiny incision and delivers heat to the vein wall, causing it to collapse and seal shut. You’ll feel little if any pain during the procedure. Most people return to their normal activity the next day. In one to two weeks, you’ll notice an improvement in the symptoms and vein appearance with little or no scarring.
  • Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is a common treatment. Solution is injected into the vein causing its lining to swell, stick together and seal shut. Blood that would normally return to the heart through these veins returns to the heart through other veins. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue and fades from view under the skin.
  • Stripping: During a stripping procedure, a small incision is made in your groin or leg. Your physician disconnects and ties off all major varicose vein branches associated with the main superficial vein in your leg and removes it through the incision.
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