Current varicose vein treatments
Varicose vein treatments are now minimally invasive, leading to excellent outcomes when compared to surgical stripping. Patients can expect safer treatments, resulting in less discomfort, and importantly, a quicker return to work or other normal activities. 1
There are two types of minimally invasive treatments, comprising heating or non-heating methods. Laser (EVLT) and radio frequency (RFA) are examples of heating methods and VenaSeal is an example of a non-heating method. In general, the heating treatments require numbing to protect the skin and surrounding nerves from heat damage, and the non-heating treatments do not require numbing, leading to improved comfort.
Varicose vein treatments: VenaSeal
VenaSeal is a non-heating treatment that eliminates the risk of damage to skin and nerves in the vicinity of the varicose veins. It is safe and effective when compared to the heating methods of treatment.
VenaSeal uses small quantities of medical-grade sealant to seal the abnormal veins that give rise to the varicose veins. The specialist monitors application of the sealant along the vein with ultrasound. As the vein being treated is abnormal, it serves no useful purpose and sealing it off is safe. Blood automatically re-routes to healthy veins.
Recent studies show that VenaSeal treatment is highly effective, with improved quality of life scores and durability. This minimally invasive treatment allows patients to return to normal activities more quickly. In addition, patients can walk immediately after the procedure and can do light activities over the next day or so, gradually increasing these activities until they are back to doing their normal amount of activity. 2,3
Before treatment with VenaSeal, patients will need an ultrasound scan to determine the cause of their varicose veins. An ultrasound technician, called a sonographer, performs the ultrasound scan, viewing and recording the pictures of a patient’s veins. The ultrasound scan takes about 30-60 minutes, depending on complexity and whether the scan is of one or two legs.
After varicose veins treatment
After varicose veins treatment, patients wear thigh-high compression stockings. It is important that the patient wears these continuously for 10 days, including while sleeping and while in the shower. Plastic shower protectors are popular but It is okay for the stockings to get wet, taking about an hour to dry. Wearing compression stockings after varicose veins treatment helps to minimise any bruising or swelling that may occur afterwards and additionally provides support to the treated areas.
All of the minimally invasive treatment methods, like most medical treatments, carry a small risk of complications. There is a small risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) requiring blood thinners, and additionally, a small risk of wound infection requiring antibiotics.
Sometimes iron may be released from blood in the treated veins and as a result this may settle in the skin causing discolouration. This can be unsightly but will usually diminish over 3-12 months as absorption of the iron occurs. Treatment with fading creams can improve discolouration and additionally, skin laser may help improvement.
For the heating treatments, skin and nerve damage are possible complications. For VenaSeal, there is a small risk of allergic reaction to the medical sealant. A 2021 study found a 4% risk of this. Treatment for an allergic reaction is with anti-inflammatories for a short time. 4