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Understanding The Types Of Varicose Vein Treatments

Thinking about varicose vein treatment? There are several viable treatment options you can choose.

Once you’ve made the decision to treat your varicose veins, the next step is choosing the treatment method. Luckily, modern varicose vein therapies have advanced greatly from previous years, when your only choice was extensive vein “stripping” surgery and a hospital stay.

Modern varicose vein treatments are usually minimally invasive, performed in a vein specialist’s office, and allow you to return to your normal activities within hours. In addition, the variety of varicose vein treatments available today means your vein specialist can tailor a therapy program based on the size and location of your varicose veins. In general, though, varicose vein treatments fall into three main categories: foam sclerotherapy, laser ablation, and minor surgery.

The Types of Varicose Vein Treatments

All varicose vein treatments aim for the same goal — closing off the damaged vein so it shrinks and becomes less noticeable on your leg. Varicose veins develop when the veins in the legs become clogged with excess blood due to faulty valves. These tiny flaps pump blood back to the heart after it’s been circulated through the extremities. When the valves malfunction, blood collects within the vein walls, leading to the appearance of bulging varicose veins along the leg and feet.

One popular method to treat varicose veins is ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy. In this treatment, a safe, FDA-approved chemical agent — a sclerosant — is injected into the vein. After applying pressure, the sclerosant seals the vein walls shut and blood diverts to nearby healthy veins. Foam sclerotherapy is often reserved for varicose veins located deeper within the venous system that cannot be treated with another frequently used therapy — endovenous laser ablation.

In endovenous laser ablation, the heat from a laser at the tip of a thin fiber moves along the obstructed vein, eventually collapsing it as the laser is withdrawn. The brief procedure uses local anesthesia to numb the area before the laser is inserted.

For larger, more visible veins, ambulatory phlebectomy may be recommended. In this minor surgical procedure, two small incisions are made near the varicose veins through which the vein is removed with surgical hooks. Similar to endovenous laser ablation, local anesthesia is applied to the area before the procedure.

After examining your varicose veins, your vein specialist will advise you on the best option based on your specific condition and suggest a treatment plan. All treatments are effective in eliminating varicose veins, but one study revealed patient satisfaction was highest after laser ablation and surgery.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tracked nearly 800 patients who had undergone laser ablation, foam sclerotherapy, or surgery for their varicose veins. Six months after treatment, laser ablation and surgery ranked above foam sclerotherapy in terms of patient satisfaction.

According to researchers, this perception may be due to the fact that laser ablation has fewer side effects like bleeding and bruising. Furthermore, foam sclerotherapy eliminated only 55 percent of varicose veins the large saphenous vein in the leg, while surgery or laser ablation was successful in 80 percent of the cases. The advantage of foam sclerotherapy is that it is less invasive than laser ablation or surgery, but the treatment may need to be repeated to completely diminish varicose veins.

The study notes the differences in patient satisfaction were minor, and patients reported an overall reduction in symptoms after treatment. With so many therapies available, varicose vein treatment isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Whichever treatment you choose will greatly improve your quality of life. After consulting with your vein specialist, you can decide which treatment — or combination of treatments — will finally rid you of painful, itchy, and swollen varicose veins.

The Varicose Vein Specialists

The physicians and staff at Vascular & Interventional Associates Vein Center focus their practice solely on treating varicose veins with the latest techniques. Our services include foam sclerotherapy, laser ablation, and ambulatory phlebectomy. We’re here to thoroughly discuss these methods with you so you can make an informed decision on your treatment.

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