When you have bulging, painful varicose veins, you want them gone, but you need to know how to get rid of varicose veins. Clearly, there are many different ways to address this visible symptom of vein disease. But, if you are wondering what treatment will deliver the fastest relief with few complications, we’re here to help. And here’s the good news! Researchers in the UK also wondered what’s the best varicose vein treatment? That’s why they conducted a study, comparing the results of surgical and non-surgical varicose vein treatments. And we’re guessing you’ll be pleased by what they discovered!
Surgery and Varicose Veins: A Genetic Link
What’s the best way to get rid of varicose veins? A new study in Nature Communications suggests that some people’s genetics increase their risk for varicose vein surgery. This was the largest study to ever explore varicose veins, following over 400,000 individuals with varicose veins, plus another 400,000 of their relatives using the site 23andMe.
Now, it’s important to understand the genetic risks of developing these bulging veins. But here’s what’s even more exciting for your Houston vein specialists. In that same study, researchers noted that their findings pave the way for better treatments in the future. And, at least in our office, the future is now, thanks to our less invasive treatment options. Let’s take a closer look!
Is Varicose Vein Surgery Better Than Other Treatments?
The results were from a CLASS (Comparison of Laser, Surgery and Foam Sclerotherapy) study. Of all the treatments they explored, two non-surgical treatments are ones we provide in our Houston and Dallas area vein clinics. These include Foam Sclerotherapy and Laser Ablation. Before we get to the results of this study, let’s take a closer look at one of the options: Sclerotherapy!
What is Sclerotherapy?
The name of this varicose vein treatment comes from the words sclero,” (which means hard) and “therapeia,” (healing). With this treatment, we inject hardening agents to your varicose veins. This causes you to develop scar tissue in those veins. Then, it blocks blood flow, so your varicose veins shrink and eventually disappear.
Because the treatment involves an easy injection, it’s considered a minimally invasive procedure. But it’s not the best treatment for all varicose veins, since it works best for small vessels that are close to the surface of your skin. (In some cases, sclerotherapy may help heal your venous leg ulcers, too.)
Not everyone can handle this treatment option. You shouldn’t choose sclerotherapy if you’re pregnant or living with kidney disease, leukemia or HIV. Also, if you’ve had a blood clot or leg operation, this may not be your best treatment option.
So, now you understand what’s involved in this treatment option, let’s get back to answering our original question: which treatment option works best?
What’s the Best Varicose Vein Treatment? Science Weighs In!
As we mentioned, the CLASS study compares the results of treating your veins with surgery or less invasive options like the ones we offer in our Houston and Dallas area vein centers.
What are those options? The first is sclerotherapy, a treatment during which we inject your abnormal vein with a substance that gradually causes its collapse. This is a great option for surface-level spider veins, or for bulging veins in your hands that still function normally, but aren’t cosmetically appealing. There’s also ablation, a treatment that uses bursts of laser light to collapse your vein. Both are minimally invasive procedures.
For this study, researchers followed 800 varicose vein patients treated between 2008 and 2012, either with surgery or with less invasive options. And the study didn’t just look at the immediate impact. Instead, researchers compared the treatment’s long-term results with surgery. At the end of five years, patients answered questions about their quality of life, the financial cost of their choice, and their willingness to recommend the treatment to others.
Almost all of the participants were happy with their results. Nearly all participants reported feeling better after treatment. And most participants would undergo and recommend the same treatment again.
Researchers also discovered that ablation and surgery delivered slightly better results than sclerotherapy. They found ablation was the most cost-effective option. And, though it wasn’t mentioned in the study, here’s something vein specialists know: sclerotherapy and ablation come with less down time and fewer complications than surgery.
With these findings, the study—and our blog post—gets a happy ending. Even though many people get varicose vein surgery, you don’t have to. And that’s because non-surgical treatments deliver great results: at a lower cost and, typically, without hospital stays!
What About Over the Counter Vein Treatments?
Sold on low-cost vein care, but still worried about even a minimally invasive procedure? You may be tempted to try a varicose vein cream or gel, like the kind you can buy in a drug store or online. Now, some may reduce the surface appearance of twisted, swollen veins. But remember: varicose veins form because of malfunctioning valves deep beneath the surface of your skin. So, since topical creams can’t address the medical cause of your vein disease, they aren’t a money-saving treatment option. In fact, they’re no better for you than a five dollar drugstore moisturizer. You’d be better off investing in a lasting, effective treatment option. And the sooner, the better…as you’ll see in a second!
When Should You Treat Varicose Veins?
Now you know what’s the best varicose vein treatment, you’ve got to know: when should you get them treated. And the answer is: now: Why? Here are 5 reasons to treat varicose veins immediately:
1. To treat the root cause of vein disease
Before starting any vein treatment, Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee will always perform a comprehensive ultrasound evaluation. This allows them to diagnose underlying chronic venous insufficiency, which is the improper functioning of valves in the vein. It also means that all of the diseased veins can be treated. The perforator (connector) diseased veins are just as important to treat as the varicose veins near the surface of the skin.
2. To improve symptoms that are impacting your daily life
Varicose veins can cause persistent and annoying symptoms that can impact your quality of life and signal that vein treatment is necessary. Symptoms of varicose veins can include tiredness, heaviness, achiness, pain, cramps, burning, stinging, itchiness, or a feeling of restlessness in your legs. More serious symptoms, including spontaneous bleeding from veins or recurrent skin infections, should be treated immediately. After varicose vein treatment, underlying symptoms will improve quickly over time.
3. To get rid of the look of varicose veins
Swollen, bulging, and rope-like veins are the most visible sign of venous insufficiency that can be resolved with our treatments. Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee will remove the bulging veins through tiny incisions or inject medication to close the varicose vein so that it shrinks over time and is no longer noticeable.
4. To find out how to prevent future varicose veins
The primary cause of varicose veins are things outside of your control such as family history, age, gender, and family history. However, our doctors can provide advice to prevent vein disease from getting worse. Also, you can help prevent new varicose veins from forming by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. Now, you may also avoid clothes and shoes that reduce circulation, choose to quit smoking and wear compression stockings to further reduce your risk.
Our specialists at Texas Endovascular will provide recommendations for making lifestyle changes that can help minimize the occurrence of varicose veins.
5. To know if this could be a sign of other health conditions
Studies have shown that having varicose veins can be a sign of increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a serious blood clot that is usually in the leg, as well as pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a blood clot that travels to the lungs. Having varicose veins is also linked to peripheral artery disease (PAD), a circulatory issue that results in reduced blood flow to the limbs. Schedule an evaluation today!Schedule an evaluation today!Schedule an evaluation today!
Sources: The New England Journal of Medicine