The key to effective treatment of venous insufficiency and varicose veins is the elimination of reflux. Traditionally, this was accomplished with surgical ligation and vein stripping, but these procedures can be quite painful and often have a long recovery time. In addition, there are high rates of recurrence with the surgical procedures.
Advancements in minimally invasive techniques have brought forth endovenous ablation as the new standard of care. This treatment is an outpatient procedure performed with ultrasound guidance. After applying local anesthetic to the vein, the endovascular specialist inserts a thin catheter, about the size of a strand of spaghetti, into the vein and guides it up the great saphenous vein in the thigh. Laser or radiofrequency energy is then applied to the inside of the vein. This heats the vein and seals the vein closed. When the great saphenous vein is closed, the rope-like varicose 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.
Benefits of vein ablation treatment
The treatment generally takes less than an hour and provides rapid relief of symptoms. Patients can return to normal activity almost immediately with little discomfort. There may be minor soreness or bruising, which can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. There is no scar because the procedure does not require a surgical incision, just a small skin nick about the size of a pencil tip. There is a high success rate and low recurrence rate compared to surgery. Success rates for the procedure range from 93 to 97 percent.
Microphlebectomy and injection sclerotherapy are other treatments for varicose veins. These may be done alone or in conjunction with endovenous ablation. Microphlebectomy is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to remove the large, bulging varicose veins just under the skin surface. The abnormal vein is removed through a tiny incision or incisions using a special set of tools. The procedure is done under local anesthesia, and typically takes under an hour. Injection sclerotherapy is used to treat smaller varicose veins as well as spider veins. An extremely fine needle is used to inject the vein with a solution that shrinks the vein. Recovery is rapid after both microphlebectomy and sclerotherapy, and most patients do not need to interrupt regular activity.
Our vascular and interventional radiology experts successfully treat many patients for varicose veins using the latest traditional and minimally invasive methods.