Varicose veins are nothing new; in fact, reports of those swollen vessels date back thousands of years. Fortunately, treatments have evolved considerably from those very early days, allowing patients to get nearly instant relief from uncomfortable vessels without a major disruption in your daily life. If you are suffering with those unsightly, bulging vessels, you can take comfort in knowing others have suffered with the same condition for generations. You can take even more comfort in knowing today’s vein treatments involve little or no discomfort or downtime and offer excellent results.
Varicose Veins Recognized
As early as Hippocrates, varicose veins were recognized as a medical condition requiring treatment. He recommended compression as a mode of treatment at that time, a method that is still used today. Compression stockings have changed considerably over the decades, but their purpose remains the same – to encourage healthy blood flow in the area of the affected vein to reduce symptoms associated with the condition.
Compression was followed by very rudimentary procedures to remove vessels or a procedure that involved irritating the affected vein with a wire. Physicians began using ligation techniques, known as phlebectomies or the surgical removal of veins as early as the first century AD. However, the procedure was performed at that time without any anesthetic and was often complicated by infection afterward.
More Changes, More Improvements
By the middle of the 19th century, anesthesia was introduced to the world of surgery, making procedures much more tolerable for patients. Surgery continued to be a popular method of varicose vein removal during that time, although some doctors used other methods of removal, such as injections and compression, to provide patients with a non-surgical option.
By the end of the 19th century, injections of perchloride of iron or iodine were used to destroy varicose veins. However, these procedures were accompanied by significant complications and risks, leading physicians to abandon them relatively quickly. The theory behind the process continued to thrive however, and transformed into the popular and much safer injectable treatment known as scleroptherapy today.
Surgical Procedures Gain Steam
By the beginning of the 20th century, surgical removal of veins or vein stripping became the preferred method of varicose vein treatment. The method continued to gain steam throughout most of that century. Early vein stripping procedures tended to be somewhat crude and painful, keeping many patients from pursuing that path due to fear of the discomfort and long recovery period that usually followed.
Even at the end of the 20th century, with all the advancements in modern medicine, vein stripping was considered a painful and undesirable procedure to undergo. The procedure involved inserting a flexible metal rod into the vein at the groin and threading it through the vein to the other side. The rod is then removed from the leg, bringing the treated vein with it. Blood would reroute through healthy veins nearby.
The perception that the procedure was painful and difficult to recover from left many sufferers wary of pursuing any type of treatment for their condition. Unfortunately, varicose veins caused by an underlying condition known as venous insufficiency can worsen if they are left untreated. This can lead to painful symptoms and even skin changes. Forgoing treatment could mean even more pain and suffering than undergoing the surgical procedure for some patients. There was no good solution for varicose vein sufferers at this point.
New Methods Introduced Fortunately, varicose vein sufferers don’t have to decide between their uncomfortable condition and painful surgery any longer. New vein treatments have been introduced that allow for effective treatment of veins without general anesthesia, hospitalization and long recovery periods. These procedures continue to see their own evolution, making the treatment of varicose veins safer and more effective all the time.
Options in varicose vein treatment today include:
This injectable procedure administers a sterile solution directly into the affected vessel. The solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to seal closed and collapse. The treated vein is reabsorbed by the body over time and the visible vein disappears from view.
Improvements to sclerotherapy procedures in recent years include new, thicker solutions that work well in treating larger veins. Ultrasound imaging can also be used to guide the needle to the vein, allowing us to treat vessels deeper beneath the skin’s surface. Sclerotherapy has been used for decades and continues to be considered the “gold standard” in spider vein treatment today.
Endovenous Laser Ablation
This procedure delivers laser energy directly into the affected vein, heating the interior of the vein so the vessel seals closed and collapses. Again, the vessel is gradually eliminated by the body and blood is rerouted to healthy veins nearby.
Laser energy is delivered via a very small catheter, which requires micro-incisions that are too small for stitches afterward. The procedure can be performed using local anesthesia and most patients return to regular activities either the same day or the day after treatment.
A relatively newcomer in varicose vein treatment, Clarivein combines a sclerosing solution with mechanical agitation to treat larger varicose veins. The gentle vibration of the fiber allows the solution to better coat the inside of the vessel so it seals shut completely.
Clarivein can also be performed using local anesthesia and the procedure takes less than one hour to complete. Patients are usually advised to wear compression stockings for a couple of weeks after treatment to encourage healing of the area and most resume regular activities within 48 hours.
This minimally-invasive procedure has replaced painful stripping for larger, bulging varicose veins. The procedure uses tiny incisions made across the length of the affected vessels, which are too small to need stitches afterward. Through these incisions, a special tool is used to remove the affected vein from the leg in small sections.
Microphlebectomy is performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia. There is little discomfort associated with this procedure and most patients are able to return to regular activities the same day or the day after their treatment.
Varicose vein sufferers have many treatment options today. Gone are the days of painful surgical procedures and a heightened risk of infection or other complications. Today’s procedures are quick, relatively painless and involve little to no disruption of your daily life. To learn more about these revolutionary vein treatments, contact Windward Vein today at 808-797- 2687.