The body’s vast network of blood vessels has over 60,000 miles of veins that work against gravity to transport blood back to the heart. When these vessels do not work as they should, normal blood flow is disrupted and pressure builds up, causing unsightly varicose veins to appear on the surface of the skin.
Varicose veins are not usually a medical concern by themselves. However, if left untreated, they may cause uncomfortable symptoms and lead to more serious health problems down the line. The goal of varicose vein treatments is to relieve symptoms or to prevent progression of the condition. Avoidance of future complications of untreated venous disease is especially important.
Each and every person has a vein system that is both similar and unique. Because of this, while major vein treatments are standardized, your comprehensive treatment plan will be tailored to your individual needs. Treatment timelines, number of sessions and results vary between patients. Whatever your concerns, you can rest assured that your treatment experience at the Vein Center of Arizona will be specialized to help you look and feel better.
Conservative management refers to medical treatments that do not require invasive measures, such as surgery. These treatments are focused on controlling symptoms and improving quality of life for patients with non-emergency conditions. Conservative methods are frequently recommended as the first treatment approach for vein conditions. Other options are explored if conservative vein treatment does not successfully alleviate the issue. Some of the most widely used techniques for conservative management of varicose veins include periodic elevation of legs, anti-inflammatory medication and compression therapy.
Patients are often advised to elevate their legs intermittently throughout the day to reduce pressure and improve blood flow. Anti-inflammatory medications can further assist with the reduction of inflammation and decrease any pain associated with the patient’s condition. Compression stockings or hose are among the most critical innovations in the treatment of venous disease. When worn, these garments improve circulation by preventing blood from pooling in the leg veins. Compression garments can be used during and after treatment, as well as for preventative care.
While conservative management is effective for many patients, it is not right for everyone. Nonsurgical measures are the next step of treatment for varicose veins and venous diseases that cannot be managed using conservative techniques alone.
Endovenous Laser Treatment
Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) is the gold-standard for minimally-invasive treatment of varicose veins. In this procedure, a thin fiber is inserted into a damaged vein through a small incision and a precise amount of laser energy is emitted at the end of the fiber. The fiber delivers this energy along the length of the vein as it is pulled back through the vein by the physician. The treated tissue reacts to the heat generated by the laser energy by contracting, causing the vein to seal shut. Blood is automatically rerouted to other veins and the treated vein fades from view.
Endovenous laser treatment has many advantages for patients. The procedure is minimally-invasive, performed in less than one hour and does not require general anesthesia. After EVLT, patients can resume normal activities with little-to-no pain and minimal, if any, side effects. Insurance typically covers this fast, safe and effective procedure.
Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive injection procedure used to treat spider veins and minor superficial varicose veins. These types of veins tend to respond best to sclerotherapy because they are small. During a sclerotherapy treatment, a micro-needle is inserted into the diseased vein and a chemical solution called a “sclerosant” or “sclerosing agent” is injected. The sclerosant irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to collapse and seal off. Blood flow is rerouted to healthy veins and the treated vein is eventually absorbed by the body.
Due to its minimally-invasive nature, sclerotherapy does not require anesthesia, incisions or stitches. Patients of Dr. Larson are often pleasantly surprised to discover how comfortable the treatment is and how rapidly they can get back to their daily routine. Sclerotherapy provides immediate relief from leg pain and treated veins typically disappear in three to six weeks. Two or three treatment sessions achieve permanent, cosmetically desirable results.
Foam sclerotherapy is performed in a similar manner to traditional liquid sclerotherapy using a different type of sclerosing agent. Foam sclerosant is a mixture of gas bubbles in a liquid solution that contains surface-active molecules. When injected, a foam sclerosant displaces blood in the targeted vein, allowing it to come into direct contact with the interior wall of the vessel. This is different from a liquid sclerosant, which mixes with the blood in the vein and is diluted as a result. This key difference means a foam sclerosant can be more effective and can be administered in a smaller dose.
A foam sclerotherapy treatment is performed in our office in under an hour. Small amounts of the sclerosant are injected using a small needle inserted into the vein. Dr. Larson uses ultrasound mapping to observe the process and ensure the injections are given in the optimal locations. Foam sclerotherapy is generally more useful in the treatment of longer and larger veins than liquid sclerotherapy.
Ambulatory micro-phlebectomy, or simply ambulatory phlebectomy, is a less invasive alternative to surgical vein stripping for large, bulging varicose veins. The procedure is performed by making micro-incisions along the vein, then using a special tool to grasp the vein and remove it in sections. It can be done on an outpatient basis in our office with local anesthesia. Compared to vein stripping, ambulatory micro-phlebectomy is less painful, requires less downtime and produces less scarring. It is often performed in conjunction with complementary procedures such as vein ablation, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy or sclerotherapy.
Mild bruising and swelling can be expected after micro-phlebectomy. A compression stocking is worn day and night for two days, then during the day only for one to two weeks. Veins removed with micro-phlebectomy will not reoccur. However, new veins may form over time and require additional treatment.
There are numerous effective options for treating varicose veins today. Contact the Vein Center of Arizona in Yuma at 928-726-8346 to find out which one is right for you.