1) Ablation with Radiofrequency Energy
Patients often ask us, “What is the latest treatment for varicose veins, and is surgery still the first line of treatment?” No, surgery is no longer a first line of treatment for most varicose veins. One of the newest and easiest ways to eliminate varicose veins is by heating vein walls with radiofrequency energy. Vein doctors use sound waves to generate thermal energy that’s positioned on the walls of the vein, causing the vein to seal shut. This technique is applied with tiny catheters that inject tumescent anesthesia around the vein to protect the surrounding area from heat. Then a fiber is threaded through the catheter and activated to heat the vein. This is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that requires no general anesthesia. Patients complete radiofrequency ablation in the vein doctor’s office in about 30 minutes, and then resume their usual routine. Book an appointment to learn more about this revolutionary vein treatment.
2) Endovenous Laser Therapy
Similar to radiofrequency ablation, vein doctors can also close off varicose veins with laser energy. Light therapy cauterizes the vein safely and quickly, and the vein is harmlessly reabsorbed by the body. Endovenous laser treatment is a new alternative to surgical extraction that presents the risk, expense, and downtime associated with traditional vein surgery. It differs from surface laser treatments that only work on small, superficial veins. Since the laser is activated directly on the vein walls, it closes off larger and deeper veins. Some doctors prefer radiofrequency, while others prefer lasers. But both types of thermal energy work similarly on the vein. Laser energy is a bit hotter than radiofrequency, so our California vein doctors typically recommend radiofrequency ablation over laser therapy.
3) Updated Sclerosants to Treat Varicose Veins
Sclerotherapy has been used for decades to treat varicose veins. But it used to primarily come in a liquid, saline-based formula that could be uncomfortable for some patients and ineffective for certain veins. Now sclerosants are offered in liquid, foam, and premixed foam formulas to treat even the largest, most twisted veins, without increasing the dosage. Most sclerosants are now detergent-like, rather than saline based, so they “irritate” the vein without causing discomfort in the patient.
4) Mechanochemical Ablation of Large Varicose Veins
Mechanochemical ablation uses a dual approach for complicated or larger varicose veins. With this procedure, vein specialists insert a rotating catheter into the vein that mechanically disrupts the walls of the veins. Then, a sclerosant is injected through the catheter to chemically irritate the walls of the vein as well. Together, these tactics help close off even the most tortuous, swollen varicose veins. This method is also non-surgical and requires no local or general anesthesia, so patients don’t require recovery time to heal.
5) Medical Adhesives to Treat Varicose Veins
Medical adhesives like cyanoacrylate glue have long been used in surgical and cardiac procedures, and to stop bleeding. They are now approved to treat varicose veins, presenting another quick way to close off faulty veins. Since vein adhesives are non-thermal and non-surgical, there is no need for anesthesia, and patients are treated in as little as 15 minutes. Vein doctors inject the cyanoacrylate glue into the vein and apply gentle pressure to seal the vein shut. The best vein doctors in California can use ultrasound guidance to ensure the procedure is administered precisely and successfully closes the vein.
6) Ambulatory Phlebectomy
Traditional vein surgeries require several large incisions and general anesthesia. Vein doctors make deep cuts, typically in the groin, knee, and calf, to pull the vein out of the body. In some cases, they tie off a saphenous vein at a certain point (ligation) and cut a portion out. Other times, they remove the entire saphenous vein (phlebectomy or vein stripping). However, newer surgeries, like ambulatory phlebectomy, enable vein specialists to remove veins through a series of small punctures, rather than large incisions. This eliminates the need for general anesthesia. Most patients will only require local anesthetics where the punctures are made. Recovery is quicker than traditional phlebectomy, and ambulatory phlebectomy is an outpatient surgery for most patients.
7) New Ways to Wear Compression Stockings
Many patients used to wear compression stockings for varicose veins, but were unsatisfied with the results. Now, patients are advised to wear compression stockings fitted by a vein doctor to make sure they aren’t getting excessive or inadequate compression. In addition, Chronic Venous Insufficiency, which causes most varicose veins, is often undiagnosed and won’t relent with compression therapy alone. Vein doctors now only recommend compression stockings for some patients and advise those with certain medical conditions to avoid them. Insurance companies now cover more vein treatments than ever, but some require a trial of compression stockings first. Visit our award-winning California vein center to select the right compression stockings and acquire coverage for procedures you need.
8) New Advice on Long Periods of Inactivity
Over the years, research has changed on healthy amounts of sitting or standing. While sitting too much remains hazardous to your health, standing or laying still for too long are also detrimental. Standing places pressure on pelvic and leg veins, increasing the likelihood of valve failure. It’s not as simple as “staying active,” or “getting off your feet.” Vein doctors now recommend changing positions every 30 minutes, and elevating your feet while at rest if you have varicose veins. Contracting your leg muscles helps pump blood out of leg veins, so it doesn’t pool or regress. If your job requires you to sit or stand for long periods, incorporate calf raises, put your feet up on breaks, and take the stairs between shifts to enhance blood flow. Experts say sitting is the new smoking, in terms of vascular health. So, avoid long periods of inactivity to prevent worsening varicose veins.
9) New Vein Specialists with Minimally Invasive Training
In the past, patients with varicose veins were often referred to a vascular surgeon. Now, most varicose veins don’t require surgery. Advances in vein technology have outpaced nearly all other medical fields in recent decades, making surgery largely unnecessary. To receive the latest treatment for varicose veins in California, choose a vein doctor who’s trained in minimally invasive solutions. Some vein surgeons are also trained in less invasive methods, but others are not. So, always inquire about the doctor’s training and preferred methods before booking your appointment. At our vein centers in San Diego and San Jose, every vein doctor is a board certified, minimally invasive vein specialist. We always use the least invasive approach to generate the best results.