The University of Chicago Medicine vein experts offer the full spectrum of advanced options to treat venous conditions, including varicose veins, spider veins, chronic venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, venous ulcers and more. Our vascular surgeons are nationally known for their expertise. And they have the skills to treat even the most complex vein problems.

Whether you require care to relieve leg pain or you are seeking treatment for aesthetic reasons, UChicago Medicine's Vein Clinic provides the most advanced, comprehensive care. We emphasize minimally invasive solutions and can treat most vein problems on an outpatient basis.

Many procedures are performed using ultrasound-guided techniques or with the assistance of fiber optic transillumination technology (Veinlite — a specially designed device that uses light to show veins with high clarity). These approaches allow our physicians to visualize vein structures in great detail before, during and after treatment.

Advanced Diagnostics

Noninvasive, painless diagnostic techniques are used to assess vein conditions. We use the latest ultrasound equipment, including color flow duplex ultrasound, which shows vein structure and the speed and direction of blood flow. Our vascular lab meets the highest standards and is accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL).

Vein Conditions & Treatment Options

Varicose veins occur when veins fail to properly circulate blood up and back to the heart. As a result, blood pools in the veins, leading to an enlarged, twisted vein appearance. In severe cases, varicose veins can rupture and form ulcers. Varicose veins are most commonly found on the thigh or calf.

Leg pain and fatigue from varicose veins does not have to be chronic, debilitating or unsightly. Our vascular specialists offer a range of treatments for varicose veins, including

  • VNUS Closure: Radiofrequency energy closes the vein
  • Sclerotherapy: Injection of a fluid to collapse the vein
  • Microphlebectomy: Removal of surface veins
  • Ligation and stripping: Ligation involves tying off the damaged vein, stripping is removal of the vein

After a thorough examination, our experts discuss your options with you to select the best approach.

VNUS Closure for Varicose Veins: New Option Offers Many Benefits

VNUS Closure is a new, state-of-the-art outpatient procedure for treating leg pain due to varicose veins and their underlying cause, venous reflux (chronic venous insufficiency). Compared to traditional vein surgery, people who have VNUS Closure report many benefits, including:

  • Little to no pain
  • Minimal bruising
  • Quicker return to normal activities (typically within one day)

In a VNUS Closure procedure, the physician will insert a tiny catheter into the varicose vein. The special catheter is used to deliver radiofrequency energy inside the vein, heating the vein wall to cause the enlarged vein to shrink and close. Blood will reroute to other healthy veins.

Spider veins, a milder type of varicose vein, are small capillaries that look like a spider web or sunburst pattern under the skin. Spider veins are usually red, purple or blue in color, and they typically appear on the legs or face.

Treatment for spider veins is usually sclerotherapy, which involves injection of a solution that causes the vein to collapse. The vein is absorbed into the body and blood reroutes to other veins.

Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when valves in leg veins don't function adequately, allowing blood to flow in both directions, not just toward the heart. As a result, blood can pool in the legs, leading to pain, swelling and venous ulcers if left untreated. Chronic venous disease is one of the most common conditions in the United States, affecting 50% of people age 50 and older. It affects up to 55% of women and 45% of men. Besides being cosmetically unattractive, varicose veins can cause chronic leg pain and debilitating fatigue. The affected veins can also develop blood clots.

Treatment for chronic venous insufficiency depends upon the severity of the case. Some people find relief by wearing pressure stockings and/or by taking medications that reduce swelling and improve blood flow. More complex cases may require sclerotherapy (injection of a fluid that closes the vein), VNUS Closure or surgery. If surgery is required, most patients can go home the same day of the procedure.

Venous ulcers are leg wounds that can be superficial (top layers of the skin) or deep in nature. Venous ulcers are caused by chronic venous insufficiency (venous reflux disease) that occurs due to damaged vein valves that allow blood to pool in the legs. People who have venous ulcers may or may not have varicose veins. Depending upon the patient's anatomy and the severity of the wound, venous ulcers may be treated with compression stockings or VNUS Closure.

A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body, typically within groups of muscles. Often, inflammation can occur at the site of the clot, causing redness, swelling, warmth and tenderness. Deep vein thrombosis can cause serious problems, especially if the clot breaks off and spreads to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism. Treatments include medications to keep the clot from growing and newer therapies for acute DVT (within two weeks of onset), such as the use of special catheters to inject drugs to dissolve the clot (mechanical pharmacolysis or thrombolysis).

This minimally invasive treatment is an outpatient procedure performed using imaging guidance. After applying local anesthetic to the vein, an interventional radiologist inserts a thin catheter into the vein and guides it up the greater saphenous vein into the thigh. A laser is then applied to the inside of the vein, heating and then sealing the vein closed. By closing the greater saphenous vein, the twisted and varicosed branch veins, which are close to the skin, shrink and improve in appearance. Once the diseased vein is closed, other healthy veins take over to carry blood from the leg, re-establishing normal flow.

Laser vein ablation is a quick, effective procedure that involves minimal discomfort and represents a vast improvement over the traditional option of vein stripping and ligation surgery that was often painful and required up to six weeks of recovery. After the procedure, a patient can literally walk out of the office and resume normal activities within 24 hours. Laser vein ablation boasts a 95-percent success rate.

Ambulatory phlebectomy is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to treat varicose veins that are not caused by saphenous vein reflux. The abnormal vein is removed through a tiny slit-like incision. The procedure is done under local anesthesia and typically takes less than an hour to perform. Recovery is rapid, and most patients do not need to interrupt regular activity after ambulatory phlebectomy.

Sclerotherapy treatment is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to treat some varicose veins and nearly all spider veins. The procedure involves injecting a solution directly into the vein, resulting in a reaction that progressively shrinks the varicose vein. If the vein is labeled as "diseased," it may necessitate several treatments to fully fade away.

Veinwave is a safe, minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of tiny spider veins. The Veinwave device produces a tiny amount of heat called thermocoagulation that eradicates spider and thread veins. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may need more than one session.
 

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