Research Highlights Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins

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Posted on: 28 November 2016 by Jose Calvo

Varicose veins are a burden to many adults, affecting nearly 50% of the population, and not just those who are entering their golden years. A recent study published on the British Journal of Surgery shows why laser treatment might be the best option to treat them.

Although there are some at-home solutions that work to reduce the aching, swelling, and irritation that are often the result of varicose veins, not everyone experiences an easing of symptoms with leg elevation or compression stockings alone. When varicose veins cause ongoing discomfort or cosmetic woes that affect confidence levels, turning to medical treatment for vein disorders is often the next step. A number of options exist in the world of varicose vein treatment, but solutions are not all created equal.

These uncomfortable, bulging veins, typically found on the thighs or calves, are the result of added pressure to the vein walls and can occur as early as your late 20s. Over time, veins break down and reverse blood flow, leaving painful, twisted veins that are visible beneath the skin. For some, varicose veins are unavoidable given a long family history of vein disorders, but for others, obesity, pregnancy, and spending an exorbitant amount of time on the feet can lead to vein problems.

The Case for EVLT

In an August 2016 study of individuals who underwent varicose vein treatment, researchers found that both surgery and endovenous laser treatment, sometimes referred to as EVLT or EVLA, worked better than foam sclerotherapy treatment for certain patients. The research highlights the long-term recurrence rate of deep varicose veins, one year after treatment, with 97% of patients experiencing no issues with treated varicose veins after surgery or EVLT was performed. Only 51% of patients had the same long-term positive results with foam sclerotherapy treatment.

Eddie Chaloner, a vascular surgeon specialised in varicose veins, explains why the disparity between the treatment options exists. He states, “Foam Sclerotherapy is a technique where a chemical is mixed with air to make foam that is then injected into a varicose vein. While it can be used to treat large varicose veins, it is not as effective as EVLT. Instead, foam sclerotherapy is useful for treating small varicose veins that might be left over after EVLT treatment.” Although foam sclerotherapy is a popular choice for individuals suffering from varicose veins, especially as an alternative to invasive surgery, research shows it is best suited for those with smaller vein issues while EVLT is a better choice for deep varicose veins.

The Evolution of Varicose Vein Treatment

For a number of years, one of the only viable options for varicose vein treatment was surgery, which worked to cut off and remove problem veins beneath the skin. Surgical procedures for varicose veins requires general anesthesia since incisions are made at the treatment site, which ultimately provides fertile ground for infection and other side effects not likely with non-invasive alternatives.

Both foam sclerotherapy and EVLT are strong non-invasive options for the treatment of varicose veins, although each works in a different manner. Foam sclerotherapy utilizing an injectable chemical to seal off problem veins under the skin, while EVLT uses laser technology to result in a similar outcome. Both procedures require only local anesthesia and minimal downtime after the treatment is complete. However, foam sclerotherapy and EVLT may cause slight bruising around the treatment site, along with irritation after the fact.

Individuals who are seeking a long-term solution to unsightly varicose veins may find some solace in EVLT or foam sclerotherapy treatments. However, the likelihood of foam sclerotherapy working in the same way as EVLT for deeper varicose veins is low, meaning there may be a need for repeat procedures or another technique altogether to get rid of varicose veins for an extended period of time. Overall, at home remedies like compression stockings and elevation only go so far to relieve the disruptive symptoms of varicose veins. Surgery, foam sclerotherapy, and EVLT are all available to certain individuals who are ready to take the next step toward reducing the discomfort of varicose veins, but it is important to understand how well each procedure may work for specific instances of vein disorders prior to selecting a course of action.

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