As many of you might remember, veins carry blood from all parts of the body to the heart. Veins (and also arteries) allow blood to flow only in one direction. This is possible due to the valves present in them that allow the one-directional flow of blood through them. When the valves are damaged in any part of the vein, the blood gets blocked and the vein bulges resulting in a varicose vein. Due to the excessive accumulation of blood in the vein, the color of the vein may turn purple or dark red. Bulged veins show up on the skin, some look very light and thin and some are really large as if there are some worms under the skin. The twisted, enlarged, and often painful veins filled with blood are called varicose veins.
Varicose veins did have treatment even a decade ago. The surgeon used to make incisions on the legs or any part of the body where the varicose veins were present and pull out the vein(s). This procedure was often painful and took longer to heal. With the advancement in medical science and technology, varicose veins treatment has become less painful, less invasive with minimal blood loss, and heals faster.
Types of non-invasive treatments for varicose veins
Following are the non-invasive varicocele treatment options available currently (in our Chennai clinic):
- Sclerotherapy. In this procedure, the veins are destroyed by injecting a liquid into the damaged vein. The liquid called ‘Sclerosant solution’ is made of Sodium Tetradecyl Sulfate. The liquid when injected into the vein causes it to collapse. The blood then flows through other veins instead of flowing and getting filled up in the damaged vein. The vein will be eventually absorbed the body. Sclerotherapy is used to treat small varicose veins that are near the surface of the skin. (Such veins are also called ‘Spider Veins’).
In cases where the veins are large, the liquid is turned into foam and injected as the foam usually occupies more volume than the liquid itself.
- – Radiofrequency Ablation
In this procedure, the scarring or destroying of the defective veins is done with the energy released from the radiofrequency waves. Small incisions are made at the ends of the varicose veins and a small catheter is inserted into the veins. The end of the catheter emits radio waves that numb and destroy the vein by heating it and thickening it. The destroyed vein will eventually get absorbed into the body and will not be visible on the skin anymore.
- – Endovenous Laser Ablation (Laser treatment for varicose veins)
In the laser treatment procedures for treating varicose veins, the energy to destroy the veins is given by the laser beam that is emitted at the end of the laser fiber catheter. Similar to radiofrequency ablation, small incisions are made at the beginning of varicose veins and the fiber catheter is inserted. As the catheter is moved, the laser beam destroys the walls of the damaged vein. Eventually, the vein will collapse and get absorbed by the body. Laser treatment for varicose veins is preferred when the veins are deeper in the leg or any affected area.
When is laser or other non-invasive treatment preferred for varicose veins?
There are few things to try by yourself when you see bulged veins on your body such as working out, dropping your weight (if you are overweight or obese), elevating your legs when sitting, wearing compression socks or stockings. If none of such home remedies for varicose veins give relief, you need to consult a good vascular surgeon for treating your varicose veins.
Your doctor/surgeon may recommend non-invasive surgery for varicose veins when:
- – You are not happy with the look of your leg with swollen veins
- – If you are experiencing pain and cramps
- – If blood clots are forming frequently
- – If your doctor sees that ulcers or sores are forming or have formed
- – If the fatty tissue under the skin is hard or hardening due to the blood pressure from the vein
Risks of non-invasive varicose vein treatment
Every surgery comes with its own risks, some are very minor and some major. Risks associated with radiofrequency or laser treatment of varicose veins include:
- – Blood clots
- – Bruising
- – Hematoma (a condition when the blood collects outside the blood vessels)
- – Infection
- – Skin burn
- – Nerve injury or damage during the procedure.