Varicose veins appear as bulging, enlarged, bumpy, purple veins. Symptoms can include restless legs, swelling, aches, and cramps. Varicose veins occur more frequently with age but anyone can get them at any time. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that about 80 million people in the United States have leg vein problems.
Several types of vein treatments can improve the health and appearance of damaged veins. These procedures offer minimally invasive alternatives to traditional vein surgery. Vein treatments deliver outcomes comparable to vein removal with less anesthesia, less surgical risk, and less downtime.
You’ll get the best results from vein treatment when you work with a provider who has the skill to treat your varicose veins while avoiding damage to nearby healthy veins.
The treatment you receive depends on considerations that include the condition of your varicose veins, your overall health, your tolerance of specific procedures, and your treatment goals. Here are some of the vein treatment options that my staff and I work with:
Cosmetic sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution or sclerosant directly into the damaged vein. The solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to collapse and seal shut. The remaining dead vein dissolves in your body over time. This procedure treats smaller varicose veins and spider veins effectively.
Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy works on the same principle as cosmetic sclerotherapy, but uses a thicker liquid that resembles shaving foam. When injected, the foam can be traced using an ultrasound scanner. Ultrasound helps to improve placement accuracy, which maximizes the foam’s effects.
Endovenous laser thermal ablation
Endovenous laser thermal ablation uses intense heat from a laser to cauterize, or burn, the varicose vein shut. The treatment delivers heat through a catheter to the damaged vein. The heat closes up the varicose vein, but leaves it in place to minimize bleeding and bruising.
Microphlebectomy works on varicose veins that are too large for sclerotherapy and too small for laser ablation. The process involves removal of the damaged vein through a tiny incision in your leg. The procedure requires little to no downtime, with no negative effect on your blood flow or circulation. It delivers immediate cosmetic improvement because it involves removal of the damaged vein.
Veinwave treats small veins in the face, ears, and nose. The procedure uses thermocoagulation to seal off the damaged vein with heat from radiofrequency waves. The radio waves are delivered through a pen-like needle placed directly onto the vein without penetrating it. Veinwave produces an instantaneous change, with the veins disappearing immediately.
Varithena delivers FDA-approved prescription microfoam through a catheter or by direct injection into the damaged vein. This option treats varicose veins caused by problems with the great saphenous vein (GSV), the longest vein in your body. Microfoam fills and expands in the targeted section of the vein causing it to collapse. After treatment, the damaged vein shuts down and deactivates the microfoam.
VenaSeal involves administering an adhesive to the varicose vein through a catheter. The treatment uses ultrasound guidance to place adhesive at specific points along the damaged vein. The adhesive closes off the damaged vein, which is left in place. You are mildly sedated during the procedure, without the need for anesthesia injections at the treatment site.
Compression hose therapy
Compression hose therapy uses a specially fitted hose to reduce the pooling of blood that causes varicose veins. This inexpensive, first-level therapy allows you to continue normal activities while receiving treatment. While compression hose can alleviate symptoms, they don’t improve the appearance of varicose veins.
Charles Hunt II, MD, FACS, RVT practices with Alabama Vein & Restoration Medspa, located in Hoover with satellite offices in Oxford, Cullman, Prattville, and Tuscaloosa.
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