Varicose veins can be a cosmetic nuisance or a painful health problem. Fortunately, advanced treatments can effectively remove them and reduce their symptoms without surgery. Options include foam sclerosing, which involves injecting a chemical into the varicose vein that damages, collapses, and seals it shut. Other treatments include placing a catheter in an enlarged vein and heating it with radiofrequency or laser energy.
Minimally Invasive Procedures for Varicose Veins
Varicose and spider veins can be a cosmetic concern for some, but they also often lead to aching, swelling, blood clots, and other serious issues that must be treated. The good news is that treatment for varicose veins at Surgical Associates has advanced so that most patients can be successfully treated without surgery. New techniques have replaced older surgical treatments, such as ligation and stripping, that involve removing the affected vein segment from the body. Some of the most popular minimally invasive procedures are sclerotherapy, which uses an injection of a chemical that causes the affected vein to close, and radiofrequency ablation, which heats the walls of the affected vein so it will collapse and be sealed shut. Another minimally invasive procedure is microfoam chemical ablation, which treats smaller varicose veins with a liquid or foam sclerosant. It’s also known as ambulatory phlebectomy, and it involves tiny punctures of the damaged veins that are removed through ultrasound guidance above and below the knee.
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure that involves a doctor injecting a particular solution into varicose veins. The answer, called a sclerosant, irritates the inside lining of the blood vessel and causes it to swell up. This cuts off the flow of blood through the vein, and it eventually closes. During the sclerotherapy appointment, your doctor will put a local anesthetic on the area where she inserts the injections. She will then make tiny punctures in the skin around each varicose vein to be treated. After the injections, you’ll put on compression stockings. The treatment typically takes 30 minutes or less. Dark areas may appear where the treated veins were, but these are likely caused by iron in your blood and should disappear within a year or two. Some more prominent varicose veins do not respond to sclerotherapy, so your doctor may use another treatment option.
Saphenous Vein Ablation
In this minimally invasive procedure, a doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) into the diseased varicose vein. A particular device inside the catheter delivers heat that damages the vein’s walls and causes it to seal shut. This prevents blood from flowing through the diseased vein and reduces venous pressure in the leg. Blood is naturally rerouted to other healthy veins, and the sealed varicose vein is eventually reabsorbed into the body. A numbing cream is applied to the site before your doctor introduces the catheter into the abnormal vein. A trained interventional radiologist or phlebologist (a physician with specialist training in treating varicose and spider veins) performs this image-guided procedure. You may feel discomfort during the process, particularly as your doctor inserts and withdraws the catheter. However, most patients do not require pain relievers afterward. It is essential to avoid long-standing periods and elevate your legs when sitting. You may also be required to wear compression stockings or bandages for several days after the procedure.
A medical adhesive can close the damaged vein and redirect blood to healthy veins. It takes less time to perform than phlebectomy and can be. The skin will be punctured to access the varicose vein using ultrasound guidance. Then we will use a catheter to inject the special glue. The adhesive clings to the walls of the varicose vein, causing it to collapse and seal. Blood is then rerouted to healthy veins nearby. The injected area may feel tender for a few days or weeks, but this should subside soon. You should be able to return to work and other activities right away. Compared to surgical ligation or vein stripping, this procedure has lower rates of complications and faster recovery times. It also doesn’t require tumescent anesthesia or post-procedure pain and bruising. The results are promising, too — a study of the product showed excellent closure rates at six months.