Sophia Afridi, MD, isn’t involved with matters of the heart; at least not when it comes to her work. As a vascular surgeon, she is concerned with all blood vessels outside of the heart. Recently, Dr. Afridi sat down with Rebecca Regnier for 13abc’s Full Plate to discuss the causes and treatment of varicose veins.
According to Dr. Afridi, a varicose vein is a dilated (widened), superficial vein that has become overloaded. It happens when the valves inside of your veins don’t work properly and, instead of pushing all the blood back up to the heart and lungs, there is a backflow of blood.
“Genetics play a big role,” said Dr. Afridi, but in addition, extra weight, pregnancy and a history of blood clots can make you more susceptible to varicose veins.
“Women are usually more affected than men,” she said, but a fair amount of men also have issues with varicose veins. It can also affect individuals of all ages “I’ve seen patients as young as in their 20s and 30s,” said Dr. Afridi.
Dr. Afridi first starts patients with symptom control—wearing compression stockings, elevating legs with pillows at bedtime and losing weight if you are carrying excess weight.
Next, she looks to see the severity of the varicose veins with an ultrasound to map out the veins and watch the blood flow to determine if there is a valvular incompetence. “If the valves aren’t working, we’ll see it,” assured Dr. Afridi, who added that the test is only about 75 minutes and produces quick results.
Varicose vein procedures, if necessary, are minimally invasive and require little downtime. According to Dr. Afridi, patients should take it easy for a few days but, with a Thursday procedure, can typically be back to work by Monday. It may take weeks to return to more intense activities such as some exercises, but walking and swimming are fine.
The success rate is very good for these procedures and may take up to three months to experience the full benefits, but Dr. Afridi said patients often start to see benefits by the next week at their follow-up visit.
Could you be a candidate for varicose vein treatment?