Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted, typically in the legs. They are larger and more serious than the common condition of spider veins. Varicose veins may be treated surgically, but there are also ways to minimize varicose veins and perhaps prevent the need for an invasive treatment.
Part of the problem with varicose veins is that they are unable to return blood to the heart effectively. For this reason, anything that reduces the pressure on the veins to pump blood back up the body can help minimize them, or at least the pain and swelling associated with the condition. Elevating the legs above the heart whenever possible is helpful, and it can also help to wear compression stockings when on your feet.
Certain medications can help minimize varicose veins. Aspirin and ibuprofen act as anti-inflammatory and blood thinning drugs, and they can therefore help alleviate the condition. Taking too much of these drugs can cause greater problems, however, so only begin a regimen under the advice of a medical professional. Diosmin is prescribed in Europe to treat varicose veins, but it has not been approved as a drug by the United States Food and Drug Administration. It is available in the United States as a dietary supplement.
If compression stockings and medication are unsuccessful against varicose veins, there are medical procedures that can help. Sclerotherapy, in which the veins are injected with a medication to make them shrink, is most often used in conjunction with surgery, but may also be used alone, depending upon the specific case.
The traditional surgery to minimize varicose veins, known as vein stripping, is still the most common surgical treatment, but it is no longer the only option. Vein stripping involves removing the affected veins with old-fashioned surgical tools, rather than lasers or radio waves. The vein is pulled out through an incision in the groin using a special wire. Laser surgery and radiofrequency ablation are two new, noninvasive procedures, but their long-term effectiveness is unknown. All of the surgeries for varicose veins just remove the veins in question; there is currently no way to repair them.