In the past, the treatment options for painful and unsightly varicose veins typically covered two extremes – the use of compression stockings or vein stripping, a surgical procedure that removes the offending veins from the legs.
During a vein stripping procedure, the vein is removed through incisions made in the groin or behind the knee. Tying and removal of the greater saphenous vein reduces the pressure of blood flowing backwards into the smaller veins.
Varicose vein stripping is performed under a general anaesthetic and although relatively safe and low-risk there are some complications. Any surgical procedure performed under a general anaesthetic entails some risk. You may also be at risk of infection, bleeding, blood clots, bruising or scarring. Nerve injury may also occur with temporary loss of sensation.
In recent years, minimally invasive endovenous techniques – including radiofrequency ablation, ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy and endovenous laser therapy – have totally revolutionised treatment of varicose veins in the UK.
Laser varicose vein treatment vs surgery
Endovenous Laser Ablation or EVLA uses ultrasound to guide an optical fibre into the vein. Precisely controlled laser energy is then directed into the walls of the vein, causing them to contract and close up. The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic and sedation and the process is typically very safe with an incredibly high success rate. Patients return home the same day and the recovery is much quicker than surgery.
ClariVein vs surgery
An even more recent entry into the varicose vein treatment market, ClariVein, does not use thermal energy to destroy the veins so there is no risk of scarring or heat damage. ClariVein uses a catheter with a rotating tip to disrupt the lining of the veins, before using a sclerosing drug to close the veins. The device is two to three times thinner than the devices used in radiofrequency and laser ablation.
In a randomised clinical trial in 2017, published in Phlebology journal, researchers studied the effectiveness and patient experience of ClariVein for the treatment of varicose veins. Three hundred patients were studied and all procedures were completed successfully under local anaesthetic. Procedures were well tolerated and there were no significant complications reported, so the study’s authors concluded that early results are promising but further evaluation was required.
Call 01872 308 520 to arrange a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic to discuss all your varicose vein treatment options.