If you are a varicose vein sufferer, there is a bewildering array of potential treatments available.
Compression Stockings are the traditional way of treating varicose veins and work by compressing your legs to help improve the circulation. The compressing action is particularly noticeable at the ankles and become more loose the further up you go.
The reason for the tightness at the ankles is to prevent the pooling that occurs as a result of the vein valve failure and to encourage the blood to move back towards the heart.
While this treatment can greatly improve your physical comfort, there have been mixed results in clinical trials with regard to their ability to actively prevent varicose veins from forming. This could be due to the fact that many people are unwilling to wear them as they can be uncomfortable and are not the most stylish of leg wear.
All of the following treatments work according to the same basic principle:
When a superficial vein is shut off, the blood supply reroutes to make up for the damaged and now blocked vein.
Sclerotherapy and Foam Sclerotherapy is the injection of a liquid or foam into a vein that promotes the scarring of and eventual closure of the affected vein. The veins are located and mapped using a technique known as Doppler Ultra Sound.
The technique also helps ensure that the sclerotherapy is not going to make the veins worse by injecting into the wrong area. This is a relatively quick and painless procedure that can be done as an out-patient, allowing you to return to work immediately after the treatment.
One of the most radical surgical interventions for varicose veins is Ligation and Stripping. While this cannot be described as major surgery, several weeks of absence from work may be required to recover in order to give your legs the opportunity to heal properly.
Two small incisions of 2 inches/5 centimeters are made, one at the groin and one at the ankle or knee, exposing the affected vein.
This vein is then tied off, cut and stripped from inside the leg. A very thin needle is threaded through the vein to do this. This technique is chiefly used when varicose veins are having a serious effect on mobility, are causing significant pain or have ruptured or bled, rendering the veins unstable.
There are also some newer techniques available however to a certain extent their long term effectiveness is still unknown. Radio frequency Ablation uses heat by radio frequencies. A tiny catheter is heated and placed in the affected part of the leg to cause the vein to collapse and close, working like cauterization to seal the vein shut.
This works quite effectively but the treatment itself can result in some minor and temporary burning to the skin and a sensation of pins and needles.
Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) also uses a catheter to assist in the process of sealing off the varicose vein, however in this instance, the catheter is used to feed a tiny laser beam through to position it near the very top of the vein. Effectively working down the vein, the laser fires, causing it to seal and closing the vein as it continues.
This is a relatively new technique which is not available everywhere at the moment. It also can be quite expensive but on the positive side it has had some excellent patient feedback as a result of limited side effects and short recovery times.
Phlebectomy is another technique that can be used however this technique is more likely to be used on spider veins rather than minor varicose veins.
For more information on how to treat varicose veins, click here!