Posted on Sep 28, 2023, 11 p.m.
Varicose veins can be more than a simple cosmetic concern. They can also lead to discomfort and health issues. Fortunately, modern medicine offers a range of minimally invasive procedures for varicose vein removal. In this guide, we'll explore these procedures to help you make an informed decision about your vein health.
Varicose veins: What Are They?
Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that often appear bluish or purple. They most commonly occur in the legs and feet. These veins result from damaged valves that allow blood to return and pool in the veins.
Causes and Risk Factors
Varicose veins can develop due to various factors, including:
- Prolonged periods of standing or sitting
Symptoms to Watch Out For
While varicose veins may be noticeable due to their appearance, they often come with uncomfortable symptoms (¹). These can include:
Leg Pain. Aching or throbbing pain in the legs
Swelling. Swelling, often around the ankles and lower legs, is common with varicose veins
Leg Heaviness. A feeling of heaviness or tiredness in the legs, especially at the end of the day
Cramps. Painful muscle cramps, particularly at night
Skin Changes. Darkening or inflammation around the affected area
These symptoms can be eased with a varicose vein treatment. A vein doctor can advise you about the best treatment option.
How Common Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are surprisingly common. It is estimated that up to 23% of adults (²) in the USA have varicose veins, making it a prevalent condition. While they can affect anyone, women are more prone to develop varicose veins than men, and the risk increases with age.
Why Opt for Minimally Invasive Procedures?
When addressing varicose veins, you may wonder about the benefits of less invasive procedures over traditional surgical methods. Let's explore the key reasons:
Traditional vs. Minimally Invasive Approaches
Traditional Surgery: In the past, varicose vein treatment involved invasive procedures that required large incisions and general anesthesia. These procedures were associated with significant:
- Nerve injury (³)
- Lengthy recovery times
Minimally Invasive Procedures: Modern medicine has revolutionized varicose vein treatment with minimally invasive alternatives (⁴). These techniques use small incisions or no incisions at all. This helps reduce trauma to the body and the associated risks.
Advantages of Minimally Invasive Procedures
1. Less Pain and Discomfort. Minimally invasive treatments involve less pain during and after the procedure. Local anesthesia is often sufficient, eliminating the need for general anesthesia.
2. Faster Recovery. With minimally invasive procedures, recovery times are shorter compared to traditional surgery. Most patients can resume their routine within a few days.
3. Minimal Scarring. The small incisions in minimally invasive procedures result in minimal scarring, often barely noticeable.
4. Reduced Risk of Complications. Minimally invasive treatments are associated with a lower risk of complications than traditional surgery. There is a reduction in infection or nerve damage probabilities.
5. Higher Success Rates. Minimally invasive procedures have shown consistently high success rates in treating varicose veins.
6. Outpatient Setting. Many minimally invasive vein treatments are performed in an outpatient setting. You can go home the same day.
Common Minimally Invasive Treatments
When treating varicose veins, minimally invasive procedures have become the gold standard. They offer effective solutions with minimal discomfort and downtime. Here are the most common minimally invasive treatments for varicose vein removal:
How it Works: This procedure involves injecting a special solution directly into the varicose vein. This solution irritates the vein's lining, causing it to collapse and eventually fade.
Ideal Candidates: Sclerotherapy is typically recommended for smaller varicose veins and spider veins.
Advantages: This procedure is quick, virtually painless, and requires no anesthesia. Patients can resume normal activities immediately after treatment.
How it Works: EVLT uses laser energy delivered through a thin fiber to heat and close off the varicose vein. It is guided by ultrasound imaging for precision.
Ideal Candidates: EVLT is suitable for larger varicose.
Advantages: This minimally invasive procedure is highly effective, with minimal discomfort and a short recovery.
How it Works: RFA uses radiofrequency energy to close the problematic vein. Like EVLT, it is guided by ultrasound for precision.
Ideal Candidates: RFA is suitable for various varicose veins, including larger ones. It is often preferred due to its high success rate and minimal discomfort.
Advantages: RFA is a highly effective, minimally invasive procedure with a proven track record of success. It offers rapid relief from varicose vein symptoms.
The Importance of Individualized Treatment
It's essential to note that the treatment choice should be individualized to your specific condition. A thorough evaluation by a vein specialist will determine the most suitable option for you. The following factors will influence the treatment plan:
- The size of the affected vein
- Your overall health
Minimally invasive treatments can help you take charge of your vein health. By exploring the benefits and process, you can make an informed decision that paves the path for healthier, pain-free legs. Don't let varicose veins hold you back – embark on your journey to healthier veins today.
This article was written for WHN by Arlette Pacheco who is a content writer who pursued a passion for Biology, earning a Ph.D. in Life Sciences. She discovered her love for writing, crafting scientific and divulgation articles, and bridging the gap between science and society.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
Content may be edited for style and length.
References/Sources/Materials provided by:
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- Sam RC, Silverman SH, Bradbury AW. Nerve injuries and varicose vein surgery. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2004 Feb;27(2):113-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2003.11.007. PMID: 14718891.
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- Liu JJ, Fan LH, Xu DC, Li X, Dong ZH, Fu WG. The endovenous laser treatment for patients with varicose veins. Pak J Med Sci. 2016 Jan-Feb;32(1):55-8. doi: 10.12669/pjms.321.8610. PMID: 27022345; PMCID: PMC4795889.
- Sevil F, Colak A Jr, Ceviz M, Kaya U, Becit N. The Effectiveness of Endovenous Radiofrequency Ablation Application in Varicose Vein Diseases of the Lower Extremity. Cureus. 2020 Apr 11;12(4):e7640. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7640. PMID: 32399372; PMCID: PMC7216314.