Health Blog

What Is Conservative Varicose Vein Treatment?

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While politics may be “conservative” or “liberal,” this has nothing to do with conservative varicose vein treatment! In this case, the word “conservative” means to treat varicose veins without surgical intervention, including minimally invasive “surgical” procedures like endovenous laser treatment (aka ELT and EVLT) or sclerotherapy. In other words, conservative varicose vein treatment is a conservative approach to treating your varicose veins.

Conservative varicose vein treatment is not going to repair the walls or valves of your varicose veins. In other words, you should not expect a “cure” for you varicose veins with conservative treatment. However, this type of treatment may stall any further worsening of your varicose vein condition and it will very likely help you manage your symptoms so you feel better.

Graduated compression stockings is one of the most popular methods of conservative varicose vein treatment. These prescription grade hosiery compress the peripheral veins so that it forces more of the blood into the deeper veins. They’re also designed to be tighter around the ankles and then get progressively looser as they go up the leg toward the thigh. These factors combine to increase the velocity of your leg blood flow and help move blood back toward the heart without the veins having to work as hard. This reduces swelling.

Exercise and weight loss are two more major components of conservative varicose vein treatment. This usually entails walking more to burn calories and to build up your calf muscles which are critically important to helping your vein blood return to the heart. Contrary to popular belief, your calf muscle is not one muscle but actually seven muscles that all work together when you walk to contract. This contraction works like a pump on your veins and helps them return blood. The stronger your calf muscles, the easier it will be for them to help pump blood back to your heart.

Elevating your legs above your heart while sitting or laying down is another good conservative therapy method. Usually people are instructed to do this at least three to four times a day for at least three minutes each time for best results. There are big foam structures you can buy that will support your legs while you elevate them, which will reduce stress on your back. These foam structures will also help you elevate your legs higher and for longer without discomfort. However, you can achieve almost the same effect by using pillows. Putting a good high foot stool by your favorite chair can help a lot too.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin are brand names of this) can sometimes help the swelling go down. These medications can also help manage any pain associated with your varicose veins. Damaged veins and damaged vein valves tend to become inflamed and this can, unfortunately, result in pain and swelling. While you can buy these drugs over the counter, it is best if you consult with your vein doctor before you begin taking them so he or she can advise you on the dosage and monitor their effect. However, you should know that doctors do have varying opinions on the best dosage to use. Some will recommend you take only one baby aspirin a day while other doctors may suggest you take three adult aspirins a day. Ultimately, it’s your body and you have to do what makes you comfortable. Just be sure to communicate well with your doctor on this issue so the effect can be documented and tracked.

Epsom salt baths can do a world of good in reducing aches in your legs and make the swelling go down. If your feet and ankles are swelling, you can simply soak them in a pan of Epsom salt if you don’t want to immerse your entire body in it. Leg massages with natural lotions containing essential oils can help increase your circulation, decrease pain, and reduce swelling.

As a practical matter too, conservative varicose vein treatment may be what your insurance company requires you try first in order for them to cover endovenous laser treatment or sclerotherapy. Frankly, in at least some cases, the vein doctor may already know the highly likely outcome that only your symptoms improve but your underlying condition does not. However, both you and your vein doctor may have to go ahead and take these steps in order to get the funding you need to pay for the procedure. Take comfort in knowing that these conservative treatments will at least make you feel better while you wait for more permanent varicose vein treatment.

The vein doctors at Metro Vein Centers treat thousands of patients and are very experienced at dealing with insurance companies. If you work with Metro Vein Centers, they can help fill out your insurance paperwork, including documenting the effects of “conservative” therapy if needed, so that you can get your medically needed varicose vein treatment covered under your insurance plan.

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