Swollen, twisted and sometimes painful; varicose veins are most common in women, but doctors say they can happen to anyone. In some cases, if not treated they can turn into a serious health risk.
Varicose veins are superficial veins in the leg that, when valves become weakened, pressure builds up, blood begins to pool and veins begin to bulge.
“The weight of the blood just kind of stays there,” said Radiologist Dr. Jonathon Coyal. “[The blood] gradually dilates out the vein and you have trauma and various other things enter the vein.”
If not treated, Dr. Coyal said it could develop into a serious problem.
“Some people will actually develop ulcers and those ulcers get infected and that can shorten their lifespan,” said Coyal. “That can actually put their leg at risk and we've seen some extreme cases here.”
For Zac Hays, he never wants to deal with the pain of his varicose veins again.
“It’s not the worst pain in the world, but it’s constant and it’s always there,” said Hays.
For Hays, his varicose veins are hereditary but Dr. Coyal said they can happen to anyone.
“Other factors such as being female is a factor, hormones can be a factor, pregnancy can be a factor, you have jobs where you stand for long periods of time,” said Dr. Coyal
To prevent Hays from developing future health risks, he’s undergoing a process called Venacure instead of the primary interventional method of stripping the vein from the body.
It’s an outpatient procedure that uses laser fiber technology to burn the inside of the vein, causing the vein to close up.
“What we do then is get into their vein down in their lower leg, or wherever it's appropriate, and we poke a needle,” said Dr. Coyal about the process of the procedure. “I thread a small plastic tube about as wide as the inside of a pen and through that I pass the laser fiber.”
Using ultra sound to navigate through the vein, it takes less than an hour and Dr. Coyal said Hays will be back to his normal routine in less than a week.
“If he didn't get the procedure basically he [Hays] would be at risk for progressive disease,” said Dr. Coyal.
It’s a procedure that, according to Coyal, has up to a 98 percent success rate with minimal to no scarring.
“With offering good follow-up, with offering good continuity and care, we’re getting better results, long-lasting results and something that will keep this patient from having these problems again,” Dr. Coyal said.
“I’ve got two young kids that like to run around and play it,” said Hays. “It will be nice not to have to worry about something as silly as veins in your knee.”