Varicose veins afflict at least 60 percent of people around the world and are more common in women than men. Sometimes pain and swelling may also accompany this otherwise cosmetic concern.
The main function of veins in our body is to carry blood from our tissues to the heart, up from the legs. But sometimes, the blood may flow backwards into the smaller veins causing blood pooling in the legs. This happens because of a valve malfunction.
National Institute of Health says that varicose veins can lead to skin ulcers and even blood clots. The condition mostly affects legs because blood in our legs struggle the most with gravity in order to return to the heart from the body.
Traditionally, varicose veins could be treated with lifestyle changes and medical procedures which aimed at relieving symptoms, preventing complications, and improving appearance. But, no single treatment could be said to work for everybody with varicose veins.
Also, there was this brutal sounding surgery called vascular stripping which involved making an incision below the vein which would then be grasped and removed. But, with technological advancement, this problem can now be solved with less invasive procedures. In fact, laser or high-frequency temperature therapy has replaced surgery.
Through laser surgery, the scar-tissue forming vein is damaged by laser heat. It is this scar tissue that closes the vein which then loses its source of blood. The vein is likely to disappear a year or two after the procedure.
Simple Laser Treatment- This procedure is done on the surface of your skin. Spider veins or small varicose veins lying just under the skin can be treated with a simple laser therapy. You will require undergoing more than one session scheduled every 6 to 12 weeks.
If the blood circulation is so poor that it can’t reach the tiny veins, your doctor will first treat the larger “feeder” vein with surgery, endovenous laser or radiofrequency treatment, or sclerotherapy.
Endovenous Laser Treatment- Larger varicose veins can be treated with endovenous laser treatment wherein through a thin tube called catheter, laser fibre is passed into the skin. The surgeon keeps observing the vein on a duplex ultrasound screen. Laser causes lesser pain that vein ligation and stripping and also takes shorter time for recovery.
Radiofrequency Ablation- This procedure is similar to laser therapy. Your doctor will insert a catheter into the vein under local anaesthetic. He then passes a shot of electricity to seal the vein, which will then disintegrate.
Venaseal- Unlike laser treatment, there is no heat involved in venseal but a local anaesthetic injection is. Medical “superglue” is injected into the vein, sticking it together and killing it. Your body over the time ingests this superglue.
Foam Sclerotherapy Injections- This is the next level of treatment options where a liquid or foam is injected into the affected vein in order to destroy it.
Varicose veins can also cause restless leg syndrome, but after treatment, "75 percent of the symptoms go away and you can sleep. In a worst-case scenario, untreated varicose veins can cause deep vein thrombosis, which can be life-threatening. If you are one of those afflicted by varicose veins and aren’t undergoing traditional stripping methods, you should talk to your doctor about the above-mentioned newer treatment options for varicose veins.
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