Treatments for Vein Disease
The treatment for varicose veins has improved significantly over the years. In the past, compression stockings and vein stripping were patients’ only options. Vein stripping was a surgical procedure in which the surgeon would make multiple incisions along the length of your leg and thigh, and put in a device to grab the inside of the vein. The surgeon then simply ripped the vein out at several points.
In the late 1990’s, Interventional Radiologists thought of a way to treat the root cause of varicose veins by closing the vein from the inside, instead of ripping the vein out. In 1999, the FDA approved this new technique, endovenous ablation. Treatments that once took hours to perform in the hospital, now take minutes in the office.
The physicians at Houston VIR can treat varicose veins by performing endovenous ablation, a procedure that seals the diseased veins shut by using heat. With ultrasound guidance, the physician inserts a small, flexible tube called a catheter into the problematic vein and then applies laser or radiofrequency energy. This procedure closes the vein without the risk of heat damage to the skin and nerves. Patients can rapidly return to normal activities.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure that uses a special solution to destroy the damaged veins that cause varicose veins. A certain type of liquid (sclerosant) is injected into the veins to get them to close. The damaged veins are absorbed by your body, and healthier veins are used by your body to route blood back to your heart. Sclerotherapy can also be used for treating smaller veins called “Spider Veins”.
In earlier stages of venous disease, leg compression is often first prescribed to manage symptoms. Compression stockings provide graduated compression from the ankle to the knee or thigh to help stop excess blood from flowing backward. Compression stockings help manage symptoms only and do not provide a cure.