WHAT IS A VARICOSE VEIN?
Varicose veins, medically known as venous insufficiency, are a common condition in which tiny valves in the veins in the leg(s) close off and are unable to circulate blood back to the heart, causing blood to settle in the vessels and, over time, swell and protrude beneath the skin. Varicose veins affect about one in five people, and are caused by various reasons, including age, heredity, routinely standing for long hours, being overweight, hormonal changes, blood clots, vein inflammation (phlebitis) and conditions that strain the abdomen such as chronic constipation. For some, varicose veins cause few to no problems other than cosmetic ones, such as embarrassment and occasional mild discomfort. Others, however, may suffer serious pain, burning, tingling, throbbing, tired, heavy legs, blood clots, even open sores, making varicosities a potentially serious medical condition requiring treatment.
HOW ARE VARICOSE VEINS TREATED?
Endovascular Laser Ablation (ELA) The Board Certified interventional radiologists of RAO’s Center for Vascular Health (CVH) are medical doctors who subspecialize in minimally invasive treatments and have performed hundreds of safe, successful ELA procedures. Your CVH interventional radiologist will perform an in-office physical exam including a safe, noninvasive, venous ultrasound exam to assess the health and function of your veins and the presence of any blood clots. Historically, varicose veins demanded invasive surgical treatments requiring risk, significant downtime and a lengthy recovery, but thanks to modern technologies, varicose veins can be eliminated using a safe, non-surgical laser procedure called endovascular laser ablation, or ELA. ELA treats varicose veins with thermal energy, causing them to collapse and redirect blood flow to healthy veins. Over the past 10-15 years ELA has proven to be so safe and effective that it has replaced most invasive surgical techniques. This highly successful outpatient procedure is performed using a local anesthetic, so no sedation is required. Patients are able to walk immediately after the service, and recovery is quick with little or no scarring.
Rarely, a patient’s condition can’t be treated using ELA. In those cases, CVH offers a minimallyinvasive treatment called a phlebectomy, in which a few tiny incisions are made and the vein safely removed. Phlebectomy uses laser wavelengths to close off the incompetent vein, involving minimal discomfort, high success rates and fast recovery. Local anesthetic is used to prevent pain and the procedure is typically over in 30-60 minutes. Daily activities can usually be resumed within 24 hours.
WHERE DO I GET VARICOSE VEIN TREATMENT?
RAO’s Center for Vascular Health and its Board Certified interventional radiologists perform varicose vein analysis, ELA treatment and phlebectomy by appointment at Munroe Regional’s Vein Clinic. For information and scheduling, call CVH at 352-671-4252.
WHAT TO EXPECT
For accurate and quick varicose vein examination, our interventional radiologists use Duplex Ultrasound, a painless, non-invasive diagnostic tool. While you stand, the ultrasound wand is comfortably passed over the affected vein to capture images of blood vessels and movement of blood through the vessels to determine the best treatment method.
For Endovenous Laser Ablation, your CVH interventional radiologist will use image guidance to direct the laser’s gentle heat to close off and shrink varicose veins. The skin is first numbed using a topical anesthetic and a small incision is made to accommodate a very thin catheter. Using image guidance, your interventional radiologist will direct an optical fiber to the diseased portion of the vein and send laser energy to the area, causing it to close it off and shrink until it is superficially invisible. The procedure is usually over within an hour and most patients are able to return to normal daily activities immediately with little or no pain.
Phlebectomy is typically performed using local anesthesia to numb the skin above the vein, so your interventional radiologist can make a very small incision. The varicose vein is then collapsed and removed through the incision using a phlebectomy hook. The procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes to complete. After the procedure, your leg will be wrapped comfortably, enabling you to engage in most normal activities the following day. Our Board Certified interventional radiologists have performed hundreds of safe, successful phlebectomies for very satisfied patients. If you suffer from physical and/or emotional discomfort caused by varicose veins, rest assured there are safe, quick, comfortable treatments that can help restore the look and feel of your legs for improved quality of life.