Minimally Invasive Treatments of Venous Reflux Disease Is On The Rise

October 24, 2017

Endovenous saphenous vein obliteration using radiofrequency or laser therapies has quickly ascended to a position of prime importance in the treatment of venous reflux disease.

Venous reflux disease, also known as venous insufficiency, is a medical condition affecting the circulation of blood in the lower extremities. Venous reflux disease commonly produces varicose veins, the abnormally swollen and discolored superficial leg veins that affect more than 25 million Americans.

In venous reflux disease, blood doesn’t flow back properly to the heart, causing blood to pool in the veins in the legs. Venous insufficiency is most commonly caused by blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) and varicose veins.

Endovenous thermal ablation, also called laser therapy, is a newer technique that uses a laser or high-frequency radio waves to create intense local heat in the varicose vein or incompetent vein. Heat is directed through a catheter to close up the targeted vessel.

The technical aspects of these minimally invasive treatment procedures when compared with more invasive procedure of saphenous vein stripping, make them highly appealing to both practitioners and patients. With radiofrequency or laser therapies there is less bruising, less pain, and less postoperative recovery. The results also exceed sclerotherapy (injection of a solution, generally a salt solution directly into the vein). The improvements in overall results have led to greater acceptance by patients.

Endovenous ablation is a treatment for closing the saphenous vein in the leg, which is typically the main superficial vein associated with varicose veins. This treatment can be performed with either laser or radiofrequency (RF) technology.

The tradition vein stripping option would be to remove the entire saphenous vein through large skin incisions, which is a more invasive approach that includes more pain, bruising and postoperative downtown for the patient.  With the current endovenous ablation, there is no need for skin incisions to obtain excellent results.

During an endovenous ablation procedure, a thin catheter (flexible tube) is inserted into the vein through a tiny skin puncture, and the entire length of the vein is treated with laser or radiofrequency through the catheter, thus injuring the vein’s wall. This causes the veins to close and eventually turn into scar tissue. The goals of treatment are to reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of complications from venous disease, including blood clots.

Immediately after the procedure, patients are encouraged to start walking, but they should avoid any strenuous exercises involving the legs (such as weight training) for two to three weeks, to enable adequate time for healing and for the treated veins to remain closed. There is minor bruising and mild discomfort in the treated leg for two to four weeks.

The team of vascular specialists at Coastal Vascular Clinic are dedicated to providing excellent patient care that maximizes results while minimizing the time you spend at our clinic.  Contact us for additional information.

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