Varicose Veins

Varicose veins, a form of venous disease, are large, "rope-like" veins, often one-quarter inch or larger in diameter. While any vein can become varicose, those most likely affected are on the thighs and lower leg. Varicose veins affect about half of all people age 50 and older, and 15 to 20 percent of all adults.

Varicose veins involve the superficial venous system (as opposed to the deep system) and occur when veins do not properly return blood from the lower leg to the heart. All veins have valves that open to allow the flow of blood to the heart and close to prevent backflow (or "reflux") of blood to the foot. When valves fail to function properly, blood leaks through and flows down the leg in the wrong direction. The blood overfills the superficial veins under the skin, resulting in the bulging seen in varicose veins.

Causes and Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can develop without a clear cause or as a result of chronic venous insufficiency. These veins can cause significant itching, throbbing, pain, burning and discomfort. Varicose veins can also clot, bleed and increase the risk of deep venout thrombosis (DVT). If not treated varicose veins can enlarge over time and become increasingly symptomatic and cosmetically unappealing. 

Treatment for Varicose Veins

Treatment for varicose veins will include medical management (compression stockings, intermittent leg elevation, and exercise) and often procedures:

Venous Ablation: Venous ablation is a minimally invasive treatment option to treat patients suffering from varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency. We offer a variety of procedures including laser, radiofrequency (RFA, VNUS procedure), chemical injections (VenaSeal, Varithena) and pharmacomechanical ablation (ClariVein). 

Open Phlebectomy: An oupatient procedure where small incisions are made to remove varicose veins.

Powered (TRIVEX) Phlebectomy: An outpatient surgery where only a few small incisions are made to remove extensive networks of large varicose veins. 

Perforator Treatment: An oupatient surgery to treat incompetent perforator veins through laser ablation, chemical injection or open ligation. 

Sclerotherapy: An office based procedure (Northville Health Center, Brighton Center for Specialty Care, East Ann Arbor Medical Procedures Unit) where a chemical is used to treat spider, reticular or varicose veins. 

Patient Resources

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment to discuss your need for other cardiovascular or venous disease treatment, contact us toll-free at 888-287-1082 or email us at CVCCallCtr@med.umich.edu. To learn more about what to expect when you call the Cardiovascular Center Call Center, visit our Make an Appointment page.