Varicose veins are something that we know people find unsightly, however fewer people know where they come from, and how they can be treated. Varicose veins are veins in your body that have become swollen and enlarged, looking like tangled webs of blood vessels bulging out of your skin, which may be flesh coloured but just as often could be blue or red. How they affect people can vary, sometimes they may only look unsightly but for others it can cause swelling, tiredness or cramp in the affected area. Generally, varicose veins are found on the legs and feet.
Many people believe varicose veins are something that needs surgery to fix, however that isn’t necessarily the case anymore. Over the last decade, medical technology has advanced and there are a number of ways to cure veins, no surgery required.
An increasingly popular treatment used as an alternative to surgical procedures for small varicose veins and spider veins, sclerotherapy involves injecting the main surface of a vein with a special solution known as a sclerosant. This scars the vein and makes it collapse, which forces your blood to flow through healthier veins. This causes the body to naturally destroy the varicose vein over time.
The needle used to inject the sclerosant solution is very small and as a result patients feel very little pain from the procedure, reducing the need for anaesthetic and long recovery times. The treatment itself is also very simple, often being performed in less than half an hour.
A surgery free outpatient treatment for all kinds of varicose veins, radiofrequency ablation involves placing a wire catheter into the varicose vein, guided by ultrasound sensors, before heating the wire up. This heats the vein, collapsing, closing and sealing it before the wire is removed.
This procedure is done under local anaesthetic, as the heat of the wire can cause discomfort, but once completed it takes only around a day to resume normal activity.
Similar to radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser therapy (or laser ablation) involves inserting a tiny laser fibre into the vein from knee to groin guided by ultra sound and is used to treat large thigh varicose veins. Instead of using radiofrequency and heat to collapse the vein, the laser fibre fires, heating up the vein and destroying it, the affected veins being absorbed by the body.
This treatment is also undertaken under local anaesthetic, with a few days needed to recover after treatment.
The most innovative treatment of varicose veins in recent years is the VenaSeal method of using medical glue to treat varicose veins. Like endovenous laser therapy and radiofrequency ablation, the treatment involves the use of a thin catheter inserted into the vein, although the difference is in this case a small amount of medical glue is used to close the vein, immediately rerouting blood through healthier veins in the leg.
The differences are that there is no anaesthetic required due to the fact that heat isn’t used to close the vein, and so immediately after the treatment a patient can return to their normal activity, without the need for a compression stocking or pain medication.
If you are suffering from varicose veins and are afraid that surgery is the only option, there’s a number of options that cater to people’s individual needs. If you want to learn more, call today for a consultation and assessment and see how we could help you.