There are a variety of treatments and techniques for getting rid of varicose veins, from conservative treatments such as compression stockings, to more invasive ones like sclerotherapy. Dr. Julian Javier offers patients a variety of treatments for removing varicose veins and this blog details both surgical and non-surgical options.
The interventionists at Naples Cardiac & Endovascular specialize in the evaluation and treatment of vein problems and provide information regarding treatment and therapy based on your specific condition and needs.
Within the last 10 to 15 years, vein ablation has become a popular replacement for traditional vein stripping. During ablation, a thin, flexible tube is inserted into a vein in the leg. Tiny electrodes at the tip of the catheter heat the walls of the vein, and ultimately destroy it.
3 types of vein ablation:
- Radio frequency
The use of a radiofrequency catheter can each be used to create heat which then clots and eventually scars the saphenous vein from within. Each device is inserted into the saphenous vein of the knee. A wire is passed up the vein to the level of the groin, followed by a special wire like device which will deliver the heat.
Using ultrasound imaging, the correct position of the treatment catheter is confirmed. A generous amount of dilute numbing medicine (anesthetic) solution is then injected by needle around the area of the saphenous vein. This provides for comfort relief and serves as an insulator so that surrounding fat and skin are not burned.
The laser or the radiofrequency probe is then activated. The heat generated produces a clotting and scarring of the saphenous vein from the level of the groin to the knee as the catheter is pulled back and eventually out. The heat destroys the inner lining of the vein (endothelium) and causes scarring of the vein lining, closing the vein so that blood cannot flow. There are almost not skin cuts, and the patient can have this performed in one visit. Fortunately, the is no need for a major anesthetic.
2. Laser Ablation
With laser ablation, your doctor close off the vein by zapping it with bursts of high-intensity light. This treatment is not invasive as no cuts are made. It’s used mostly for smaller varicose veins. It uses high powered electromagnetic radiation to heat one particular small spot of our skin and damage the underlying spider vein.
3. Foam Ablation
Using a needle to push a drug (which is mixed with air) into the vein can rapidly irritate, burn and scar the inside of the saphenous vein without cutting the skin—stopping the backward flow of blood in the vein. Ultrasound is used to direct where the drug goes in the vein. This technique is an office-based procedure. Patients like this method because it it’s minimally-invasive.
This technique is used when large varicose veins located just beneath the surface of the skin need to be physically removed. Using only small incisions, the veins are removed using small surgical instruments. The interventionist uses a small hook to physically remove the affected vein or cluster of veins through the incision.
Endoscopic Vein Surgery
Endoscopic vein surgery uses a small camera on a tiny tube. The venous interventionist threads it into your vein through a cut in your skin. She uses a surgical device at the end of the tube to close your vein. You probably won’t need this procedure unless your varicose veins could cause cancer. If you receive this treatment, you can go back to normal living with a few weeks.
These are elastic stockings that squeeze the veins, stopping the abnormal flow of blood back toward the foot. The stockings can relieve symptoms and help heal skin sores and prevent them from coming back. Some patients are required to wear the compression stockings for life as a way to control symptoms, although they don’t cure the underlying problems.
Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition, they may need to a minimally-invasive treatment such as sclerotherapy, ablation, and phlebectomy.
A needle is guided into the affected vein to inject a liquid or foam medication. The medication scars the vein from the inside out, thus closing it. Blood that would normally return to the heart through these veins bit instead uses different, healthier veins. The body will naturally absorb the treated vein.
It’s similar to sclerotherapy because it’s the same procedure, but simply uses a smaller needle to treat smaller veins. Microsclerotherapy is the technique used to treat spider veins or thread veins of the legs. It is a relatively straightforward procedure which involves injecting a liquid into the veins which destroys them, then causes them to disappear over time.
In the past, this was the standard treatment of choice. You where given general anesthesia so that you will not be awake during the procedure. Vein stripping is the traditional surgical treatment for venous insufficiency of the saphenous vein and involves two primary goals, including eliminating backward blood flow (reflux) in the saphenous vein and its tributaries, and removing unsightly and protruding varicose veins through tiny incisions.Your doctor will make cuts in your skin, tie off the veins, and remove them.
The vein is attached to the wire stripper and is pulled (ripped) from where it lies. Thus the term “stripping” of the vein was what it came to be called. Small separate skin cuts (incisions) over the areas of abnormal vein dilation are made along the thigh or calf for removal of branch varicose veins that were not attached to the main trunk of the saphenous vein or where not removed at the time of stripping. If possible, though, the doctor will try to leave the the saphenous vein in case you might need it later for a bypass heart surgery. Recovery time typically ranges from one to four weeks.
Talk to a Vein Specialist
Speak with Dr. Julian Javier, a board certified interventional cardiologist and endovascular specialist in Naples, Florida. He will discuss your medical history, perform a thorough exam, and explain what you can do to treat your varicose veins.