A quick, safe way to eradicate varicose veins
St. Joseph’s/Candler Physician Network – Vascular Specialists brings new minimally-invasive, in-office treatment option to treat spider and varicose veins
One of the good things about living where we live is shorts and skirts can be worn most months of the year, right ladies? Unless, that is, you are one of the many adults who have varicose or spider veins and hate to show off your legs.
It can be more than cosmetic, causing pain and discomfort.
If you are looking to rid yourself of these bright purple and blue, roping veins, there’s a new, minimally-invasive, quick treatment option available in Savannah through the St. Joseph’s/Candler Physician Network – Vascular Specialists practice.
“We are really excited to bring this to Savannah,” says Dr. Peter Hunt, St. Joseph’s/Candler vascular surgeon.
This is VenaSeal, an in-office procedure that uses a small wired catheter and glue to basically clog up the vein and stop the blood from sitting in there, Dr. Hunt describes.
“With this, there’s no trauma to the vein,” Dr. Hunt says. “You are just plugging it up and filling it with this glue, which is the same medical glue that has been used for years when someone has a surgery and this glue is used in the incision.”
Understanding spider and varicose veins
Spider veins form first and look like tiny spider webs made up of very small blood vessels. They are caused by venous insufficiency, which occurs when there’s improper functioning of the vein valves in the leg, causing swelling and skin changes.
As spider veins grow in size, they are termed reticular veins, which start to take the form of a vein and are usually blue and purple.
Varicose veins are larger – about a half centimeter in size – and dilated. They bulge out of the soft tissue and have the appearance of a rope-shaped vessel, also often blue and purple.
Most often, these veins are just a cosmetic nuisance and are not harmful. However, some may experience symptoms and need to seek treatment. Symptoms of painful varicose veins can include:
- Pain around the site of the vein
- Heaviness in your legs
- Leg fatigue
- Swelling, primarily below the knee
- Tightness in portions of your leg
- Discoloration of skin
For many, these veins are unpreventable as the most common cause is heredity, but obesity, pregnancy, even a career that causes you to stand a lot can contribute to the formation of spider and varicose veins.
A new treatment option
Treatment typically begins with a conservation approach – medical-grade compression stockings. No, not very glamorous, but unless you are willing to pay out of pocket, this is often the first treatment option.
If that fails, there are ways to treat varicose veins in a minimally-invasive manner that your insurance may cover. One example uses a catheter to deliver radiofrequency energy to heat the vein wall, closing the vein off from blood flow. Another treatment option uses lasers to send bursts of concentrated light into the vein, collapsing it. More complicated cases may require surgery.
But for some patients, there is a new treatment option called VenaSeal that may be best for them. This device, developed by Medtronic, also closes off damaged veins and diverts blood flow to healthy ones, Dr. Hunt describes. Instead of radiofrequency heat or lasers, VenaSeal uses an advanced medical adhesive to close the vein.
“It’s a glue that has been used for people that have had brain aneurysms. It’s not a glue that is brand new just for this,” Dr. Hunt says, assuring its safety. “It’s been used in many surgeries, and they discovered it is effective in this application.”
What are the advantages of VenaSeal?
- Less numbing medication needed during the procedure
- Less bruising afterwards
- Less pain afterwards
- No sedation necessary
- No compression stockings needed afterwards
- Takes about 20 to 30 minutes in office
Patients may feel a mild tugging sensation during the procedure and need a bandage to cover the area afterwards. Most people can return to their normal activities right away, but Dr. Hunt does advice no heavy lifting or strenuous activity for two weeks. He also recommends a two-week follow-up appointment just to make sure everything went well, and then a three-month follow-up to ensure the varicose veins are decreasing or have gone away.
“The success rate for the VenaSeal procedure and other vein treatment procedures are the same at three years out,” Dr. Hunt says. “Patients who come to us will have different options, but for most people who suffer from varicose veins, the VenaSeal option is the future.”
VenaSeal isn’t for everyone, especially if you have an allergy to glues. But, If you are ready to rid yourself of the look or pain associated with your varicose veins, talk to you doctor about seeing one of our vascular surgeons.
Vein and VenaSeal images courtesy of Medtronic