The Ins & Outs of Venous Treatments
Whether you’re looking for varicose vein treatment or spider vein treatment in the Orlando area, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the various venous treatments. The vein experts at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center explain the pros and cons of the different treatment options available today.
But before you can consider the treatment procedures, it’s important to understand exactly what varicose and superficial (or spider) veins are. Varicose veins, a serious medical condition, are swollen, twisted veins that are visible just under the surface of the skin. These enlarged, colorful veins typically occur in the legs but also can appear in other areas on the body. Varicose veins are a common condition suffered by a large percentage of Americans, including people of all ages and in all types of occupations. While varicose veins typically cause few signs and symptoms, at times they cause mild to moderate pain, blood clots, skin ulcers (sores), and other medical problems.
The percentage of patients diagnosed with varicose veins varies greatly from country to country, but it’s commonly accepted that the prevalence worldwide is 7%.
Superficial (spider) veins, which are more of a cosmetic but that can still cause symptoms nuisance, are dilated capillaries that also are just under the surface of the skin. This is because varicose and superficial veins have different causes. Varicose veins are often caused by weak or damaged vein valves, which act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backward. When this occurs, blood can pool up, which is called venous insufficiency. This pooling of backed-up blood enlarges the veins, making them varicose. Superficial veins usually are the result of hormonal changes, exposure to the sun, or injury.
Available Treatment Options
When you decide to seek treatment from a qualified vein specialist for your varicose and/or superficial veins, you several options, including:
- Spider Vein Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is the oldest and most common treatment for superficial leg veins. The procedure employs a sclerosing agent (or irritant), which is injected into the veins and causes them to scar and become less noticeable. Despite the name, typically, the only pain is some slight discomfort at the injection site. Sclerosing options include a chemical irritant and the form it takes is foam. The foam is a much more effective and safe form to do in regards to sclerotherapy because it allows a better contact of sclerosant with the vein wall, and it is safer because if some leaks out, half of it is air. Usually, the spider veins are eradicated, but others can pop up but, instead, are made less visible. There is virtually no downtime for the patient with this procedure.
- Veinlite-Guided Sclerotherapy: This is a variant on sclerotherapy with a special illumination device, the Veinlite, used to help the surgeon find the source of superficial veins. The Veinlite transilluminates the entire vascular structure, making even the tiniest vessels visible. This allows the doctor to identify each feeder vessel (reticular veins) and inject them with the sclerosing agent, which is critical to ensuring the superficial veins do not reoccur.
- Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGS): This is a needle-based treatment to eliminate medium and large varicose veins that utilize an ultrasound device to locate the origin of the veins and establish the injection site. UGS involves adding air or another gas to the sclerosing agent in order to create a foam for the surgeon to inject into the affected vein. The foam then creates a reaction in the vein, which causes it to collapse. The body then absorbs the vein without any visible scarring. When this technique is employed, veins usually need only two or three treatments to completely resolve. This option provides excellent long-term cosmetic results.
- Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT): Laser therapy is another varicose vein treatment option. EVLT actually doesn’t treat those small veins, but rather the core truncal large veins of the superficial system that lead to the small surface veins. EVLT’s level of precision and its less-invasive nature make it a preferred option in many scenarios. Through the use of an ultrasound machine to pinpoint the locations, the doctor uses heat, delivered through a small catheter or tube, to collapse and seal the vein shut. All this is typically done under local anesthesia, with a patient follow-up usually involving simply a leg wrap or prescription compression stocking worn for a week or two. Most patients are able to walk immediately after the procedure, with most returning to work the next day.
Comparing the Treatments
The study, which was performed in Great Britain, observed that for almost 800 patients treated, all of the treatments achieved similar success in alleviating symptoms of itchiness, pain, and swelling. And, all patients had higher levels of satisfaction six months post-op.
The research doctors’ fundamental finding is that all of the varicose vein treatment options were similarly safe and effective. All are preferred to traditional vein surgery, such as vein stripping and ligation, which is, essentially, the last resort for extremely large varicose veins.
A Few Advantages of Foam
The research did find a few advantages to the EVLT treatment option. Researchers note that EVLT is less invasive and less expensive than ablation treatments. That being said, foam treatments typically must be repeated and tend to be less comprehensive in taking out the complete varicose vein structure. For this reason, we use EVLT for saphenous and truncal reflux and foam only for varicose and spider veins.
Of course, all patients and cases are different, and a vein specialist can tell you which option or options may be best for you. And while all of these treatment options certainly can alleviate symptoms, they don’t necessarily guarantee that you won’t develop new varicose veins at some point in the future.
When it comes to spider (superficial) veins and varicose veins, there are multiple treatment options. If you are looking for varicose vein or spider vein treatment in the Orlando area, be sure to contact Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center at 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today to set up a consultative appointment to talk with our vascular doctors about what treatment is best for you.