Varicose veins, those winding and swollen veins often visible on the legs, affect millions of people worldwide. Many people wrongly see varicose veins as solely an aesthetic issue when, in reality, varicose veins are a chronic disease that can have complications if left untreated.

If you have varicose veins, figuring out what to do next can be overwhelming, but they should not be ignored. Luckily, surgery isn’t your only option. We live in a time where the primary treatment method for getting rid of varicose veins and their often painful symptoms is no longer invasive. While surgery is still available and the only option in some cases, treatment for varicose veins has shifted to a minimally invasive approach.

In this article, we will provide a summary of all your treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, to empower you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about managing your varicose veins effectively.

Understanding Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins, typically appearing blue or dark purple. They develop when the valves within the veins weaken or fail, causing blood to pool and veins to bulge.

Risk factors for varicose veins include genetics (women are more likely to have varicose veins than men,) prolonged standing or sitting, pregnancy, hormonal changes, obesity, and aging. These factors contribute to the weakening of vein walls and the subsequent malfunctioning of valves.

The formation of varicose veins usually begins with venous insufficiency, where weakened vein walls and faulty valves lead to blood pooling in the veins. Over time, this results in stretching and bulging of the affected veins.

While varicose veins are typically associated with cosmetic concerns, they can also signal underlying venous health issues. Beyond their appearance, varicose veins can cause discomfort, including aching, heaviness, swelling, and itching. In severe cases, complications such as venous ulcers or blood clots may arise.

Fortunately, there are effective solutions available for managing varicose veins. From traditional surgical procedures to minimally invasive treatments, you have several options for effectively treating varicose veins.

Whether opting for surgery or non-invasive treatments, consulting with a vein specialist can help individuals make informed decisions tailored to their unique needs and preferences.

Complications From Varicose Veins

Unlike spider veins, which are smaller, dilated blood vessels that are primarily a cosmetic issue, varicose veins are more prominent, swollen veins that may cause discomfort and lead to more severe complications if left untreated.

Varicose veins are not only a cosmetic concern; they can lead to a range of complications, affecting both venous health and overall well-being. It’s crucial to understand the severity of these complications and why addressing varicose veins promptly is essential for maintaining optimal vein health.

Rather than dismissing varicose veins as a cosmetic concern, you should make an appointment with a vein specialist if you believe you have them. Early treatment is crucial for preventing complications from varicose veins.

Potential complications that are associated with varicose veins include:

Venous Ulcers

Prolonged venous insufficiency can result in ulcers, typically occurring near varicose veins, particularly in the lower legs. Venous ulcers are slow-healing wounds that require medical attention to prevent infection and promote healing.

Blood Clots

Varicose veins increase the risk of developing blood clots, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These clots can form within the affected veins or travel to other parts of the body, posing a significant risk of complications if not treated promptly.

Skin Changes

Chronic venous insufficiency associated with varicose veins can cause changes in the skin, including discoloration, thickening, and inflammation. These skin changes may be accompanied by itching, dryness, or a sensation of heaviness in the affected area.


Varicose veins close to the skin’s surface may be prone to bleeding, particularly after minor injuries or trauma. While the bleeding is usually not severe, it can be alarming and may require

medical attention to control.

Superficial Thrombophlebitis

Inflammation of the veins near the skin’s surface, known as superficial thrombophlebitis, can occur in individuals with varicose veins. This condition may cause pain, swelling, and redness along the affected vein, requiring medical evaluation and treatment to prevent complications.

Varicose Vein Treatment Options

Ideally, you should try to catch varicose veins before they appear. You can do this by undergoing proactive vein screenings, especially if you have specific risk factors such as a family history of varicose veins, pregnancy, hormonal changes, obesity, being 40 years old or older, or consistently sitting or standing for prolonged periods.

If you already have varicose veins, you need to treat them as soon as possible. Traditional surgical procedures like vein stripping and ligation have historically been used to treat varicose veins. Yet, modern medical advancements have introduced several non-invasive alternatives that have become the gold standard for treating varicose veins.

The primary objective of varicose vein treatment is to either close off or eliminate the affected veins, allowing blood to redirect to healthier veins. Here is a breakdown of your varicose vein treatment options:

Modern Minimally Invasive Vein Treatment Options

In recent years, minimally invasive procedures have become the preferred method for managing varicose veins. These innovative treatments typically entail minimal incisions or needle punctures to target problematic veins directly.

The goal is to alleviate symptoms, enhance cosmetic appearance, and mitigate potential complications linked to varicose veins.

Minimally invasive varicose vein treatments include:

Venous Ablation

Venous ablation, also commonly known as Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) or Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), is a cutting-edge treatment for varicose veins. This minimally invasive procedure effectively closes off varicose veins by heating and collapsing their walls using either laser energy (EVLT) or radiofrequency energy (RFA).

By inserting a thin tube or catheter into the varicose vein under ultrasound guidance, the heat generated by the laser fiber or radiofrequency waves seals the vein, leading to its eventual disappearance.

Venous ablation boasts high success rates, typically ranging from 94% to 98%, and is favored by patients for its quick recovery times and minimal discomfort.


Sclerotherapy offers a non-surgical approach to treating varicose veins, particularly smaller varicose veins and spider veins.

During this procedure, a special solution is injected directly into the affected veins, causing them to scar and reroute blood flow to healthier vessels. Sclerotherapy is known for its simplicity, minimal discomfort, and excellent outcomes.


Microphlebectomy, also sometimes just called Phlebectomy, is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to remove varicose veins through small incisions near the affected area. Special tools extract the vein, often in conjunction with other treatments like EVLT or RFA.

This approach allows for targeted removal of problematic veins while minimizing scarring and recovery time.

Surgical Vein Treatment Options

While minimally invasive procedures have become increasingly popular for treating varicose veins and are the preferred treatment when possible, surgical interventions still exist and may be necessary depending on the severity of the condition and individual patient factors.

These methods, typically performed under sedation and regional anesthesia, involve making incisions to access and remove the affected veins.

The two most common surgical varicose vein treatments are:

Vein Stripping

Vein stripping is a traditional surgical procedure used to treat varicose veins. During this procedure, incisions are made in the groin and calf area to access and remove the affected veins. The veins are then tied off to prevent blood flow. While effective, vein stripping may require sedation and regional anesthesia for patient comfort and typically involves longer recovery times compared to minimally invasive options.


Ligation, another surgical approach to varicose vein treatment, involves tying off the varicose veins to prevent blood flow. Similar to vein stripping, ligation may require sedation and regional anesthesia. While surgical treatments like ligation are effective in addressing varicose veins, they may involve a higher risk of complications and longer recovery periods compared to modern minimally invasive alternatives.

Pros and Cons of Minimally Invasive Vein Treatments

Navigating the pros and cons of minimally invasive vein treatments is essential for making informed decisions about your varicose vein care. You should discuss your goals and any concerns you have with a vein specialist. They can help tailor a treatment plan that meets your needs and preferences.


Reduced Pain and Discomfort

Minimally invasive procedures typically result in less pain and discomfort for patients compared to traditional surgical methods.

Quick Recovery

Patients undergoing minimally invasive treatments generally experience minimal downtime, often resuming normal activities within a day of the procedure.

Low Risk of Complications

These procedures carry a lower risk of complications such as infection or significant bleeding, enhancing patient safety and satisfaction.

Improved Aesthetics

In addition to alleviating symptoms, minimally invasive vein treatments effectively enhance the cosmetic appearance of the legs, boosting patient confidence and well-being.

Outpatient Procedures

Most minimally invasive varicose vein treatments are performed on an outpatient basis, eliminating the need for hospitalization and allowing for convenient scheduling and recovery.


Minimally invasive options have shown high success rates, with procedures like endoscopic venous ablation achieving effectiveness ranging from 91% to 100%, ensuring reliable patient outcomes.

Minimal Anesthesia

Typically, only local anesthesia in the form of an injection is required for minimally invasive procedures, reducing the risks associated with general anesthesia.


Limitations in Treatment

Not all varicose veins may be suitable for treatment with minimally invasive procedures. Consult with your doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment options for your specific condition.

Potential Need for Additional Treatments

Some patients may require multiple sessions or additional treatments to achieve optimal results, increasing the overall cost and time commitment of vein treatment.

Possible Side Effects

While uncommon, minimally invasive vein treatments may still carry risks of side effects such as bleeding, infection, or inflammation of the treated vein. It’s important to discuss these potential risks with your healthcare provider before undergoing treatment.

Rare Complications

Although rare, blood clots can occur as a complication of endovenous treatment. Patients should be aware of these potential risks and monitor for any unusual symptoms following the procedure.

Pros and Cons of Surgical Vein Treatments

If you have been told that a minimally invasive approach isn’t possible to treat your varicose veins or you prefer surgery, navigating the potential risks and benefits of surgical varicose vein treatment is crucial if you are considering this option.


Considered Effective

Surgical treatment for varicose veins is widely regarded as a safe and effective method for addressing the condition, providing long-term relief for many patients.


Sedation Risks

Surgical varicose vein treatment typically requires sedation, which increases the risk of complications such as adverse reactions to anesthesia or respiratory problems during and after the procedure.

Prolonged Recovery

Compared to minimally invasive procedures, surgical treatment for varicose veins often entails a longer and more painful recovery process for patients. This can result in extended downtime and limitations on daily activities, impacting the overall quality of life during the recovery period.

High Risk of Recurrence

Despite the initial success of surgical treatment, there is a significant risk of varicose vein recurrence over time. Studies have shown recurrence rates of up to 50% after five years, highlighting the need for ongoing monitoring and potential additional interventions.

Potential Nerve Injury

Surgical procedures for varicose veins carry a risk of nerve injury, with approximately one-third of patients experiencing some degree of nerve damage following treatment. This can lead to symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or pain in the affected area, impacting overall mobility and comfort.

Other Ways to Treat Varicose Veins

Before surgery or even a minimally invasive treatment option, you could try a few things at home to lessen the symptoms.

  • Wear compression stockings
  • Elevate your legs throughout the day
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Exercise regularly

If conservative treatments haven’t sufficiently addressed your varicose vein concerns, the subsequent course of action involves determining the most suitable treatment option for your specific needs.

When to Consider Varicose Vein Treatment

Varicose veins are not only painful and an embarrassment for some, but they can also lead to various medical issues. It’s important to evaluate whether treatment might be necessary.

If you’re experiencing any of the following problems associated with your varicose veins, you should see a vein specialist:

  • Heaviness or discomfort in your legs
  • Swelling in your feet or legs
  • Burning or throbbing sensations in your legs
  • Itching and skin changes around a varicose vein
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots or a history of blood clots
  • Presence of an ulcer or persistent sore

Varicose Vein Treatment in Middle Tennessee

Addressing varicose veins as soon as possible is crucial to prevent potential complications and improve overall venous health. Fortunately, modern minimally invasive treatment options offer significant advantages over traditional surgical methods, including reduced pain, quicker recovery times, and minimal scarring.

At The Vein Centre in Nashville, our Board Certified Vascular Surgeons specialize in vein and circulation issues, providing expert care tailored to each patient’s needs. With locations in Belle Meade and Mt. Juliet, our team is dedicated to offering advanced treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, and other conditions affecting blood circulation.

Click here to see reviews, get more information on our vascular surgeons, and schedule your appointment to discuss your venous health.