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Varicose Veins are not just a cosmetic concern

Varicose Veins are not just a cosmetic concern

Restore Vein & Skin Centre

Varicose veins are an extremely common problem, affecting up to 50% of the population.

Contrary to popular belief, varicose vein disease is not simply a cosmetic problem. Studies have shown that left untreated, the veins gradually enlarge and progress to associated veins, eventually leading to a road map of enlarged and twisted varicose veins. Once these veins become diseased, they never get better on their own. The earlier the veins are treated, the fewer veins will be come affected, and the lower the chance of developing skin changes associated with chronic venous disease. Varicose veins allow blood to pool in the legs, leading to swelling, poor nutrition to the overlying skin, possible ulceration, and is well proven to have a significant negative impact on quality of life. In addition, pooling of blood anywhere in the body increases the chances of that blood clotting. People with varicose veins are at increased risk of superficial and possibly deep vein thrombosis.

Factors that make certain people prone to develop varicose veins include heredity (if both your parents have varicose veins, you are doomed), multiple pregnancies, female gender, and work that involves prolonged standing or heavy lifting. Varicose veins also become more common as we age, as the one-way valves in our veins can suffer from wear and tear over the years.

Many people with varicose veins do not seek treatment for this disease, even if they suffer from aching and heavy legs, because they have heard that treatment involves general anesthetic and painful recovery after surgical stripping. Many patients do not even know that treatment is available.

Thankfully there have been many advances in minimally invasive methods to close varicose veins, which are associated with little post treatment pain and almost immediate return to work and usual activities. Sclerotherapy, a treatment that involves injecting a medication into diseased veins, has been used for over 100 years. In the last 15 years, sclerotherapy has become much more effective in treating all sizes of varicose veins. This is thanks to the use of an ultrasound to diagnose the source of the problem, as well as the discovery that foaming up the medication produces a much better result. In BC, sclerotherapy treatments are partially covered by our provincial health care plan and many studies all over the world has found this to be the most cost effective method of treatment.

 

FAST FACTS

  • Varicose veins disease is a chronic medical condition that worsens with time.
  • Traditional surgical stripping is no longer the “gold standard.”
  • Newer, minimally invasive treatments involve much less pain and downtime.
  • Sclerotherapy, endovenous ablation (EVLA/EVLT), and Venaseal are all associated with significantly improved long-term quality of life, equal to that of traditional stripping.
  • Effective vein treatment is available for almost any budget

Thankfully there have been many advances in minimally invasive methods to close varicose veins, which are associated with little post treatment pain and almost immediate return to work and usual activities. Sclerotherapy, a treatment that involves injecting a medication into diseased veins, has been used for over 100 years. In the last 15 years, sclerotherapy has become much more effective in treating all sizes of varicose veins. This is thanks to the use of an ultrasound to diagnose the source of the problem, as well as the discovery that foaming up the medication produces a much better result. In BC, sclerotherapy treatments are partially covered by our provincial health care plan and many studies all over the world has found this to be the most cost effective method of treatment.

Newer, minimally invasive treatments, include endovenous laser ablation (EVLA or EVLT) and Venaseal glue to treat varicose veins. These treatments are safe, effective and almost painless, allowing rapid return to usual activities. For especially large veins, they do result in a higher closure rate than sclerotherapy. Unfortunately, the cost of these procedures in BC are not covered by the provincial government or extended medical insurance plans.

These procedures cost at least 10x more than ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy. We have growing evidence now that even though EVLA/EVLT and Venaseal glue produce a higher closure rate than sclerotherapy, the five-year improvement in quality of life is no better than sclerotherapy.

 

This has led to the question as to how important is complete closure of veins, a topic that is currently being studied. As physicians, we should be aiming to improve our patients’ quality of life, which is a better indicator of success of treatment versus an ultrasound appearance.

Varicose vein disease is a chronic disease. Every type of vein treatment is associated with recurrence, and regular maintenance is important even if you pay the hefty price tag for a newer treatment at the outset.

It is the physician’s responsibility to provide honest recommendations to patients in terms of which form of therapy is best in each individual case. The decision is based on the degree of disease in their veins and the patient’s tolerance for cost. Most patients that are candidates for surgical treatment have veins of the diameter where sclerotherapy is extremely effective. These patients should be offered the option of ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, EVLA/EVLT and Venaseal glue treatment. For the minority of patients where the diseased veins are excessively dilated, we do suggest laser or glue therapy over sclerotherapy.

In summary, ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy, endovenous laser ablation (EVLA or EVLT) and Venaseal closure by glue are all effective and safe treatments for varicose veins and show equally sustained improvement in quality of life. If you want the highest technical closure rate, and paying for treatment will not cause financial hardship, EVLA/ EVLT and Venaseal are wonderful treatments.

 

As seen in

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However, there is no need to break the bank, as ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy is also a brilliant treatment method. Catching varicose veins at an early stage and regular maintenance treatments will keep your legs and circulation in optimal condition. Search for providers that offer you the full of range of treatment options appropriate to treat your varicose veins.

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