Listen up! Experts want to separate fact from fiction about unsightly leg veins (varicose veins) and inform you about new laser therapies. Here’s what everyone with problem veins needs to know:
#1: Varicose veins are NOT a cosmetic issue. It’s a progressive medical condition that can lead to sores and circulation problems.
#2: Men DO develop varicose veins. Forty percent of women experience varicose veins, but about 25 percent of men do, too.
#3: Treatment does NOT require a hospital stay. Surgical vein stripping has been replaced by laser therapy that seals veins from the inside, can be done in a doctor’s office, and is almost always covered by insurance.
“Until a few years ago, vein stripping was considered standard treatment for varicose veins,” says Dr. Jeffery Schoonover of Vein Clinics of America in Indianapolis. “But now the transition has been made to utilizing thermal ablation—minimally invasive procedures that don’t require hospital stay.”
During the new treatment, called endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), doctors utilize ultrasound technology to guide an optic fiber into the problem vein, and then activate the laser to heat and seal it. After the vessel closes, blood reroutes to healthy veins.
Medical Update (MU) talked to Dr. Schoonover about varicose veins, and an advanced laser fiber featuring a protective gold tip to reduce bruising and promote healing.
MU: When should people with varicose veins seek medical advice and care?
Dr. Schoonover: People with medically significant varicose veins suffer from leg aching, throbbing, and pain. Symptoms may improve with periods of leg elevation, pain medicines, and compression socks. But they typically recur and disrupt activity.
MU: What’s special about VenaCure EVLT?
Dr. Schoonover: The VenaCure fiber has a durable gold tip that is highly visible with ultrasound guidance technology. Other fibers can be difficult to see, increasing the risk of vein perforation and excessive bruising.
In addition, the gold tip reduces the amount of carbon that can accumulate on the laser fiber. This helps ensure uniform energy distribution throughout the firing of the laser and speed healing.
MU: How long is the typical recovery period?
Dr. Schoonover, VenaCure EVLT takes about 30 to 60 minutes, and patients can return to the work the next day.
MU: Has the new fiber gone through clinical trials?
Dr. Schoonover: Yes, it is FDA approved and in use across the country.
MU: Who are the best candidates for VenaCure EVLT?
Dr. Schoonover: A wide range of patients will tolerate this procedure. Those with a history of venous surgery or problems would require additional workup. As always, ask a doctor about the best treatment options for you.
Below is an animation of the new laser therapy for varicose veins.