Veins return oxygen-poor blood to the heart. Normal leg veins have one-way valves in them which help maintain blood flow against the force of gravity. The valves can become non-functional for a variety of reasons, to include genetics, hormonal changes, pregnancy, prolonged standing, and a history of blood clots. When the valves are not working correctly, gravity acts on the blood in the venous system, causing the veins to become swollen. Veins closer to the skin may seem to "pop out" of the leg and are visible as twisting, bluish cords, known as varicose veins. The underlying valve problem can also contribute to symptoms of leg tiredness, aching, pain, and swelling after standing for long periods. Untreated valve problems can progress to skin breakdown and the formation of an ulcer, or sore, located close to the ankle.
To diagnose a valve problem, a painless ultrasound exam is conducted by Dr. Biggs, who is credentialed as a Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation (RPVI) by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). This test involves placing an ultrasound probe on the skin to examine the blood flow in the leg veins.
If a valve problem is identified, minimally invasive treatments are available, using the most sophisticated technology to date. The procedures are comfortably performed with local anesthesia in the office. No stitches are required. Recovery is rapid, with return to work possible in 24 hours.