WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS?
Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that are visible under the skin surface and usually occurring in the legs. Varicose veins affect 40% of women and 25% of men. It is a common condition that occurs due to weakened valves which result in backing up of blood in the vein and eventually swelling and enlargement of the veins.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF VARICOSE VEINS?
The main complaint in patients with varicose veins is the visible enlarged and bulging veins which are a cosmetic issue. Other symptoms of varicose veins include and are not limited to lower limb swelling, heaviness, ankle and leg ulcers as well as skin itching.
HOW ARE THEY DIAGNOSED?
Varicose veins are diagnosed by clinical examination as well as with ultrasound imaging.
WHAT ARE THE NON INVASIVE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR VARICOSE VEINS?
Minimally invasive treatment options are delivered by interventional radiologists as a less risk, less pain and faster recovery option compared to traditional venous surgeries.
There are a few options for interventional treatment of varicose veins:
ENDOVENOUS LASER ABLATION TREATMENT ( EVLT ) and RFA
Laser ablation is a treatment option in which the vein is entered using a small needle followed by insertion of a small tube or catheter into the vein under the guide of ultrasound imaging. Through the catheter, laser energy or radiofrequency energy producing heat is used to close the vein. This is all accomplished without pain as the area of the procedure is number using local anesthesia. Sedation is a also available for those patients who request it.
NON THERMAL TREATMENT:
There are a variety of other options for treatment of varicose veins. These non-thermal modalities include the injection of glue like material to cause closure of the veins as well as a foam material that is injected directly into the problematic veins.
This involves the injection of an irritant chemical material using a tiny needle into the varicose veins directly under the guidance of ultrasound. This technique is mainly used to treat smaller superficial veins under the surface of the skin.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OVER SURGICAL TREATMENT?
- Faster procedure with no scars or sutures.
- Fewer complications and less pain when compared to surgical treatment.
- Most of the treated veins are effectively invisible even after the procedure.
- Most patients report symptom relief and are able to return to normal daily activities immediately, with little or no pain.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
A band aid is placed over the needle site after the procedure and the patient is asked to wear a compression stocking/sock for a period of time after the procedure. The patient can be discharged home on the same day of the procedure after a brief observation period. Normal activity can be resumed in a short period.