Treatment for varicose veins may include self-care measures, compression stockings, and surgeries or procedures. Procedures to treat varicose veins are often done as an outpatient procedure, which means you usually go home on the same day.
Ask your insurer if varicose vein treatment is a covered expense. If varicose vein treatment is done only to improve the appearance of the legs (cosmetic reason), the cost might not be covered by insurance.
Self-care — such as exercise, raising the legs when sitting or lying down, or wearing compression stockings — can help ease the pain of varicose veins and might prevent them from getting worse.
Wearing compression stockings all day is often the first approach to try. The stockings squeeze the legs, helping veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. The amount of compression varies by type and brand.
Compression stockings are available at most pharmacies and medical supply stores. Prescription-strength stockings also are available and may be covered by insurance if varicose veins are causing symptoms.
Surgeries or other procedures
If self-care steps and compression stockings don’t work, or varicose veins are more severe, a health care provider might recommend surgery or other procedures:
* Sclerotherapy. A health care provider injects the varicose veins with a solution or foam that scars and closes those veins. In a few weeks, treated varicose veins should fade. The same vein might need to be injected more than once. Sclerotherapy doesn’t require anesthesia and can be done in a health care provider’s office.
* Laser treatment. Laser treatment sends strong bursts of light onto the vein, which makes the vein slowly fade and disappear. No cuts or needles are used.
* Catheter-based procedures using radiofrequency or laser energy. This procedure is the preferred treatment for larger varicose veins. A health care provider inserts a thin tube (catheter) into an enlarged vein and heats the tip of the catheter using either radiofrequency or laser energy. As the catheter is removed, the heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut.
* High ligation and vein stripping. This procedure involves tying off a vein before it joins a deep vein and removing the vein through small cuts. This is an outpatient procedure for most people. Removing the vein won’t keep blood from flowing in the leg because veins deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood.
* Ambulatory phlebectomy (fluh-BEK-tuh-me). A health care provider removes smaller varicose veins through a series of tiny skin punctures. Only the parts of the leg that are being pricked are numbed in this outpatient procedure. Scarring is generally minimal.