Varicoceles are the No. 1 cause of male infertility and develop for the same reason varicose veins occur elsewhere in the body: that is, dysfunctioning valves within veins that causes blood to pool and congregate in one area of the vein. This causes the vein to expand and twist, resulting in the tell-tale appearance of varicose veins.
When to Seek Treatment for Varicoceles
Men often opt for treatment to either relieve or prevent common complications of varicoceles, such as:
- Low testosterone levels
- Shrinking of the affected testicle
- Male infertility
These complications occur because of the reduced blood supply to the testicles, which can shrink testicular size. Temperature in the area can increase due to the pooled blood in the varicose veins, which can affect sperm production. This may lead to a significant decrease in the number, quality, and motility of sperm. In addition, testosterone levels may decrease and eventually lead to additional complications.
If enlargement is present on both sides of the scrotum, it may indicate a more serious vascular condition, such as an abdominal aortic aneurysm, another reason to see a doctor about your varicoceles.
What Is a Varicocele Embolization?
A varicocele embolization is a method of diverting blood away from a varicose vein in the scrotum. The site is accessed using a tiny catheter threaded through existing blood vessels – thus, it doesn’t require the type of incision and cutting of tissue that surgery does. For this reason alone, an overwhelming number of men who seek treatment for a varicocele will opt for a minimally invasive vascular procedure, such as a varicocele embolization, rather than surgery to remove the vein (called a vein ligation surgery).
Benefits of a Varicocele Embolization
At Florida Endovascular and Interventional, a varicocele embolization is exactly the type of procedure our team has expertise in. That’s because our interventional radiologists are specially trained and experienced in using the least invasive methods to conduct treatments inside the body – without leaving a scar or harming nearby healthy tissue.
We perform varicocele embolizations in the fully equipped surgery suite in our offices. You will be able to remain comfortable and sedated during the procedure — while avoiding the risks and side effects associated with surgery. With a varicocele embolization, you will experience a faster recovery time, plus little to no post-procedure pain, scarring, or risk of infection.
What to Expect: Varicocele Embolization
After you are comfortable and sedated, local anesthetic will be administered and the doctor will insert a tiny catheter into a vein in your groin area. Using real-time imaging for guidance, the catheter will be guided into place in the scrotum. Contrast dye may be used to better visualize the vein to be treated, then tiny materials are released to block blood flow to the malformed (varicose) vein. Blood is then automatically redirected to healthy nearby veins. After treatment is completed, the catheter is removed, and a bandage is placed over the needle entry point in the groin.
It can take a few weeks before you notice the full effects of the procedure. You should be able to resume usual activities within a day or two – although your doctor may advise against heavy lifting for week or so. Follow your doctor’s aftercare instructions for the best results.
Do Varicoceles Return?
Although surgery and varicocele embolization are equally effective, in some cases, the varicocele returns. When that happens, another varicocele embolization is often recommended. In fact, even men who choose to undergo a vein ligation may end up having a varicocele embolization because it is the standard treatment when varicose veins in the scrotum recur.
Vascular Treatment of Varicocele in South Florida
It’s important to see your doctor if you notice varicose veins in your scrotum. It may affect testosterone levels, testicle size, as well as your fertility. At Florida Endovascular and Interventional, we offer the in-office, minimally invasive treatment alternative to surgery that men with varicocele prefer.
To find out more about varicocele embolization and other treatments we offer for men, call the main Florida Endovascular and Interventional office at (786) 534-2555. You can also request an appointment now.