According to Eddie Chaloner, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Radiance Health, “varicose veins affect 30% of the population and are a common cause of aching and discomfort in the legs.” While vein stripping was once your only real option for dealing with varicose veins, thankfully, you now have a range of treatment options. Let’s take a look at the latest in varicose vein treatments.
- Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT)
Minimally invasive techniques such as EVLT have brought about a sea change in varicose vein treatment in recent years. This technique offers an outpatient procedure without the need for general anesthetic and with a fast, relatively painless recovery.
EVLT seals the vein using the heat of a laser, instead of stripping out the vein, which causes more significant tissue injury, hence the longer recovery time and greater risk of side effects from vein stripping.
While EVLT is a dramatic shift in how surgeons approach treatment of varicose veins, some patients still baulk at the idea of having local anesthetic injected into the leg prior to the laser treatment.
Fortunately, there are other options for needle-phobic patients.
Ideal for younger, busy professionals, Clarivein is considered the next frontier for varicose vein treatment as it requires no anesthetic and is almost entirely pain-free. This treatment option uses a combination of a mechanical rotator and a pharmaceutical to stick the blood vessel walls together, thereby closing off the troublesome vein. An additional advantage to this technique is that Clarivein poses no risk of accidental damage to nearby sensory nerves as it doesn’t use heat.
Dr. Chaloner was the first surgeon to use the Clarivein method in the UK and since 2010 has treated and assessed over 200 patients using this system. In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Chaloner said that he has “no doubt that Clarivein can work fantastically well to eliminate major varicose veins.” He notes that at Radiance Health they have had “stunningly good results” and that “the operation is virtually painless for patients and it is also very quick to perform.”
- The Sapheon Glue system
Like Clarivein, the Sapheon Glue system works by sealing the vein shut. This technique is also quick and relatively pain-free as it uses a medical superglue to adhere the vein walls to each other, closing off the vein and preventing further bulging.
Clarivein looks to be a great option for treating smaller varicose veins, but may be less successful longer-term for larger veins, with a higher recurrence rate than is seen with laser treatment. Chaloner highlights the importance of properly assessing all new medical treatments, noting that they “take a long time to evaluate [as surgeons] need to be sure that initial beneficial effects are durable and that recurrence rates are sufficiently low to recommend the technique.”
The Sapheon Glue system is a more recent development in varicose vein treatment, and while further investigation is needed before the treatment becomes more widely available, some experienced surgeons such as Dr. Chaloner are already seeing the impressive benefits of Sapheon Glue for carefully selected patients with varicose veins.