There are several techniques for removing or reducing unwanted varicose veins or spider veins in your legs. These range from injecting medications into the smallest veins (sclerotherapy) to endovenous laser ablation or surgery for larger veins. The University of Kansas Health System offers state-of-the-art treatment options for varicose and spider vein removal.
What is vein treatment?
Vein treatments can decrease discomfort and other symptoms from spider veins or varicose veins, and may also provide an improved cosmetic appearance. There are several different techniques your healthcare provider can use to get rid of varicose or spider veins.
Varicose veins are identified by their enlarged, gnarled appearance. They may be red or blue and often bulge beyond the surface of the skin. Spider veins are like varicose veins in that they are enlarged and red- or blue-colored. However, these veins are thinner and appear closer to the skin's surface. Both varicose and spider veins may ache or throb, worsening when you stand or sit for long periods of time.
Who can have vein treatment?
Problems with spider veins or varicose veins can range from simple aesthetic concerns to severe discomfort and pain. Vein treatments can address the appearance of spider or varicose veins and can also bring relief from uncomfortable symptoms.
How does vein treatment work?
There are 3 main options for getting rid of varicose or spider veins:
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Benefits and risks of vein treatment
The primary benefit of vein removal is reducing or eliminating uncomfortable symptoms resulting from leg veins. Improving the aesthetic appearance of leg veins is another benefit for many. Risks of vein treatments are generally considered minimal. Your doctor will go over any possible risks or side effects with you at the time of your consultation.
What happens during vein treatment?
Your healthcare provider will thoroughly examine the veins you are concerned about, taking notes of your symptoms. Venous reflux disease, the abnormal recirculation of blood, causes symptoms similar to those related to varicose and spider veins, so it's important to see a doctor regarding the condition.
Once your diagnosis is confirmed, you may be recommended for sclerotherapy. The procedure is performed in your doctor's office and lasts 15-30 minutes. First, the skin is cleansed with antiseptic, and then the sclerosing solution is injected into the vein. This solution is often comprised of detergents, osmotic agents and chemical irritants. An injection is needed for every inch of vein (5-40 injections per session), and 2 or more sessions are usually required at 4- to 6-week intervals.
If the vein cannot be seen on the skin's surface, ultrasound may be used to help guide the insertion of the needle.
It is important to remember to limit your activities for a few days following sclerotherapy, though walking is encouraged to help speed the recovery process. You may experience cramping, redness and bruising, symptoms that are treatable with the application of tight-fitting support hose for the first 72 hours or more following treatment. Please contact your surgeon or health professional if your symptoms persist or worsen.
Perforator veins connect the superficial and deep systems. Larger perforators contain valves that direct flow from the superficial veins to the deep veins and are typically accompanied by a paired artery. It is estimated that up to 66% of people with skin changes secondary to chronic venous insufficiency will have a component of perforator reflux, in addition to other sources of superficial or deep venous reflux. Valvular incompetency has been shown to result in venous hypertension and eventual stasis ulceration.
Perforator vein ablations are for the treatment of leg venous ulcers and skin changes. Chemical ablation is the injection of medication via a needle into unwanted veins. The goal is to irritate and scar the veins from the inside such that these abnormal veins close and no longer fill with blood. Several treatments may be required. This procedure may decrease discomfort and other symptoms from leg veins, and it may provide an improved cosmetic appearance.
The University of Kansas Health System offers 2 state-of-the-art endovenous ablation procedures for the treatment of varicose veins:
- The ClosureFast™ procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. This technique uses radiofrequency energy to precisely and effectively treat patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency. Using ultrasound, the physician positions the catheter into the diseased vein through a small opening in the skin. The small catheter delivers heat to the vein wall, causing it to shrink and the vein to seal closed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will reroute itself to other healthy veins. This procedure takes approximately 45-60 minutes with local anesthetic. This procedure is virtually painless and scarring is almost nonexistent. Studies show lower rates of pain, bruising and complications and faster improvement in quality of life.
- The VenaSeal procedure is the only nonthermal, nontumescent, nonsclerosant procedure that uses a specially formulated medical adhesive delivered endovenously to close the vein. This unique approach eliminates the risk of thermal nerve injury when treating the small saphenous vein, which is a risk sometimes associated with certain thermal-based procedures. Clinical studies have demonstrated this procedure is safe and effective. The procedure is administered without the use of tumescent anesthesia, avoiding discomfort associated with multiple needle sticks.
Ambulatory phlebectomy is an outpatient procedure in which numbing medication is injected into the skin over the varicose vein. Then, a small slit-like needle hole is made, and segments of the varicose vein are removed in 1 treatment. This will cause the entire varicose vein to disappear over a period of time.
After the vein has been surgically removed, the legs are usually bandaged for 1 day, and you are able to walk immediately after surgery and allowed to resume normal activities. Because the procedure is performed under local anesthetic, you will be able to drive home. This procedure may be done alone or in combination with other procedures to treat other veins in the legs.