Varicose vein - noninvasive treatment

Definition

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, painful veins that have filled with blood.

Alternative Names

Sclerotherapy; Laser therapy - varicose veins; Radiofrequency vein ablation; Endovenous thermal ablation; Ambulatory phlebectomy; Transilluminated power phlebotomy; Endovenous laser ablation; Varicose vein therapy

Description

Varicose veins most often develop in the legs. They often stick out and are blue in color.

The following treatments for varicose veins can be done in a health care provider's office or clinic. You will receive local anesthesia to numb your leg. You will be awake, but will not feel pain.

Sclerotherapy works best for spider veins. These are small varicose veins.

Laser treatment can be used on the surface of the skin. Small bursts of light make small varicose veins disappear.

Phlebectomy treats surface varicose veins. Very small cuts are made near the damaged vein. Then the vein is removed. One method uses a light under the skin to guide treatment.

This may be done along with other procedures, such as ablation.

Ablation uses intense heat to treat the vein. There are two methods. One uses radiofrequency energy and the other uses laser energy. During these procedures:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

You may have varicose vein therapy to treat:

Risks

These treatments are generally safe. Ask your doctor about specific problems that you might have.

The risks for any anesthesia and surgery are:

The risks of varicose vein therapy are:

Before the Procedure

Always tell your provider:

You may need to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and other medicines that make it hard for your blood to clot.

After the Procedure

Your legs will be wrapped with bandages to control swelling and bleeding for 2 to 3 days after your treatment.

You should be able to start normal activities within 1 to 2 days after treatment. You will need to wear compression stockings during the day for 1 week after treatment.

Your leg may be checked using ultrasound a few days after treatment to make sure the vein is sealed.

Outlook (Prognosis)

These treatments reduce pain and improve the appearance of the leg. Most of the time, they cause very little scarring, bruising, or swelling.

Wearing compression stockings will help prevent the problem from returning.

References

Freischlag JA, Heller JA. Venous disease. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 65.

Goldman MP, Guex JJ, Weiss RA. Sclerotherapy: Treatment of Varicose and Telangiectatic Leg Veins. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011.

Nijsten T, van den Bos RR, Goldman MP, et al. Minimally invasive techniques in the treatment of saphenous varicose veins. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009;60:110-9. PMID: 18835063 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18835063.


Review Date: 2/27/2015
Reviewed By: Deepak Sudheendra, MD, RPVI Assistant Professor of Interventional Radiology & Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, with an expertise in Vascular Interventional Radiology & Surgical Critical Care, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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