When we see patients for varicose vein treatment in our Houston area vein centers, they’re often a symptom of venous insufficiency. That’s a condition that can cause more serious health issues. In other words, varicose veins can be dangerous and unattractive. So treating these bulging, prominent veins is more than just a cosmetic decision: it’s imperative to your overall health.
Once you’ve decided to treat varicose veins, the question remains: what method will serve you best?
Procedures to get rid of varicose veins have come a long way, and, today, you’ve got many different options. At one time, patients with vein disease weren’t so lucky. Some chose a procedure commonly known as “vein stripping,” which was an inpatient surgery requiring general anesthesia, hospital admission, and a long, painful recovery period.
Now, this treatment option was highly invasive. So it wasn’t safe for some patients with pre-existing health conditions, including even mild liver disease. (Also called cirrhosis.) For that reason, many patients were left suffering, because the treatment risks were too high.
Even patients who could tolerate vein stripping faced a tough road. After that invasive therapy, patients had to take off time from work or school while they healed! Thankfully, those days are behind us! In our office, we offer a range of minimally invasive varicose vein treatments.
And we’re constantly watching the news for treatment development. Recently, one option involving medical glue was approved by the NHS in the UK. So, today, we wanted to discuss the effectiveness of this treatment.
Medical Glue and Varicose Veins
As we mentioned before, varicose veins are a symptom of a blood flow problem. When your valves fail, that allows blood to flow backward, instead of going against gravity and returning to your heart. As the blood sticks around your lower extremities, those veins in your legs get stretched, bulging and visible through your skin.
That’s where a medical glue product called VenaSeal is introduced. Using a small catheter, providers insert the glue into your vein to stop your blood from flowing backward into your legs. They often use a local anesthetic alongside the glue to prevent any pain. The glue basically stops up the faulty vein so it can’t continue to cause problems. Afterward, many patients can avoid wearing compression stockings.
Now, VenaSeal can be effective. (In fact, this study suggests efficacy rates as high as 98%.) But some factors may impact its usefulness. First, you have to insert the glue into just the right spot, or backflow may continue. Additionally, it’s not yet cleared for use in pregnant women, and long term safety studies are still in the works.
Sclerotherapy and Ablation for Varicose Veins
Looking for an alternative to VenaSeal? Sclerotherapy is a great option using an ultrasound to access your varicose vein, under the skin, with a very small needle. Next, we mix medication with carbon dioxide gas to create a foam that we inject directly into the abnormal vein, closing it permanently. We recommend sclerotherapy for veins that aren’t yet bulging.
Now, for bulging varicose veins, radiofrequency vein ablation may be a better option. RFA is also a minimally invasive procedure involving the insertion of a catheter into your abnormal vein. We then supply it with heat energy, closing the vein permanently. Want the best news? We can perform RFA with just a local anesthetic. It is a virtually painless procedure that leaves virtually no scar. The procedure takes less than an hour to perform and patients can resume normal activities immediately afterwards.
Before proceeding with radiofrequency ablation, or any other varicose vein treatment, your Houston vein specialists will perform a thorough medical examination, including a diagnostic ultrasound evaluation, to determine whether the procedure is appropriate for you. To find out the best treatment option for your medical reality, schedule your consult today!