When considering varicose vein treatment the first thoughts that come to most patients’ minds are: “Is this going to hurt?” “How long will I be out of action?” “Can I afford treatment?” “Will this really help to get rid of my varicose veins once and for all?”.
It is only natural to be worried and have these doubts and concerns, especially when traditional “stripping” methods were often followed by horror stories of throbbing pain and being bound to your bed. HOWEVER, thanks to advances in modern technology, there have been real improvements in varicose vein treatments meaning that today’s procedures are minimally invasive, safe, effective and can even be performed in an outpatient setting.
In this article, we will discuss how varicose vein treatments have changed over the years (for the better!), and in turn, help to answer these questions, ease your concerns and perhaps give you the reassurance to book in for varicose vein treatment.
Varicose vein treatment: past procedures
Until around 20 years ago, “stripping” was the preferred method to treat varicose veins. Patients would receive general or spinal anaesthesia, and an incision would be made at the top and bottom of the varicose vein through the groin and further down the leg. A thin, flexible plastic wire would then be fed through the leg, tied to the varicose vein and pulled out through the lower cut. The patient would later return home to recover for up to four weeks, meaning a lot of pain, discomfort and a real lack of mobility.
Therefore, many people suffering from varicose veins would be reluctant to have them treated and would continue living with everyday pain and be embarrassed by the appearance of their legs. Worse still, their untreated varicose veins could have led to more serious vein health issues such as thrombophlebitis and deep vein thrombosis.
Thankfully, in more recent years, doctors have started using less invasive methods to treat varicose veins, including Radiofrequency Ablation (a form of Endothermal Ablation) and Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy.
Varicose vein treatment: today’s procedures
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
According to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Radiofrequency Ablation is considered the first line of treatment for varicose veins. It is a walk-in-walk-out keyhole procedure that is performed under local anaesthetic, and uses radiofrequency energy (like laser) to improve the appearance of less superficial varicose veins and relieve symptoms including: heaviness, pain and skin irritation. RFA can also be used alongside Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy to treat more troublesome varicose veins. It only leaves a tiny amount of scarring, bruising and swelling, and the procedure is generally less painful and more convenient than other varicose vein treatments. For more information about Radiofrequency Ablation, click here.
Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGFS)
Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy is arguably the quickest, most cost-effective and least invasive way to treat superficial trunk varicose and reticular veins. It helps to relieve leg pain and skin irritation and improves the appearance of your legs. UGFS is a walk-in-walk-out procedure performed under local anaesthetic, where foam is injected into the vein. Compression pads, a bandage and elastic compression stockings will need to be worn for three to five days post-procedure, and patients should notice reduced symptoms immediately after treatment, and an improvement in the appearance of varicose veins soon after. UGFS can be performed independently or alongside RFA to resolve vein health issues in a short visit. For more information about Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy, click here.
Varicose veins – to treat or not to treat?
It is clear that varicose vein treatment has undergone significant improvements over the years, and not just in success rate but also in patient ease and comfort! Modern techniques have meant that treatments can be performed under local anaesthetic, without incisions and on a walk-in walk-out basis meaning a quick return to everyday life – this is in real contrast to 20 years ago when treatment was largely limited to “stripping”.
Although we would always recommend treating your varicose veins, regardless of the procedure options available to you, it is promising to see that patients now have more choice and in turn are more likely to treat their varicose veins, helping to improve both quality of life and prevent any serious long-term vein health issues.
How can we help?
Here at Premier Veins, we offer a FREE, no-obligation mini-consultation for anyone considering varicose vein treatment at one of our private clinics in Birmingham, Solihull, Leamington Spa and London. The consultation will provide you with an opportunity to:
To get started, click here to book your FREE mini-consultation or call 0121 769 2646 to speak to a member of our expert team today.