Medical Q&A: Varicose Veins, Spider Veins

bildeQuestion for Dr. Christopher Meyer, a general, vascular and thoracic surgeon in in Lake Wales, who is on the medical staff of Lake Wales Medical Center.

Dr. Christopher Meyer.

What are varicose veins and spider veins? Are they dangerous? Varicose veins are large, twisting veins. They are caused by blood pooling in the legs. They can be painful and dangerous in some situations. For example, they can bleed if cut or bumped. They also can form clots and become infected, a condition known as thrombophlebitis. Also, blood pooling in the legs can cause leg swelling, brown discoloration of the skin, or even ulcers. Fortunately, there is a laser procedure called EVLT which cures varicose veins and their accompanying symptoms without surgery. This can be done in the office, during your lunch break with minimal discomfort and no recovery. This procedure is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies. Spider veins are tiny red or purple veins. Although they may be a sign of a deeper problem, spider veins themselves are harmless. Patients who find them unsightly can choose to have them treated using one of several available in-office treatment options.

How Do I Get Rid of Spider Veins ?

Spider VeinsSpider veins are small red or purple veins that are less than one millimeter in diameter.  These are different than larger varicose veins.  Spider veins tend to be more difficult to treat than any other type of vein.  Unfortunately, there is no magic eraser to remove these veins.  The key to removing them, is to first cut off the abnormal blood flow into the veins.  This can be done by phlebectomy (removing the vein) or sclerotherapy (injecting a detergent into the vein to close it).   Second, we attack the visible spider veins themselves.  This can be done by using Vein Gogh which destroys the veins from the outside.  This leaves a scratch where the vein was and as the scratch heals the vein disappears.  The other method is sclerotherapy in which we destroy the vein from the inside by injecting a detergent.
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How do I know if EVLT is right for me?

VC cover3The Venacure EVLT procedure uses a minimally invasive endovenous laser to treat varicose veins and is a clinically proven alternative to traditional and painful ligation and stripping surgery. It requires no general anesthesia and offers minimal risk and shorter recovery time.

The VenaCure EVLT procedure uses the latest generation of EVLT® catheter, which has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States, to insert a laser fiber directly inside the faulty vein under local anesthesia. The laser delivers a precise dose of energy into the vein wall, collapsing it. This process, called ablation, cures the condition and diverts blood flow to nearby functional veins. The resulting increased circulation significantly reduces the symptoms of varicose veins and improves their surface appearance.

The VenaCure EVLT treatment generally takes less than one hour in a doctor’s office and offers immediate relief with minimal-to-no scarring. Patients can usually resume normal activities immediately with minimal or no pain. The success rate of the VenaCure EVLT procedure is as high as 98 percent – measurably better than the alternatives of surgical ligation or stripping and radiofrequency electrosurgery.

All surgical procedures carry some degree of risk and a potential for complications that should be discussed with your physician and weighed against the risk of leaving your varicose veins untreated. Potential complications include vessel perforation, thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, phlebitis, hematoma, infection, skin pigmentation alteration, neovascularization, paresthesia due to thermal damage of adjacent sensory nerves, anesthetic tumescence, non-target irradiation, vasospasm, hemorrhage, necrosis, skin burns and pain.

Side effects of the VenaCure EVLT procedure include mild bruising and tenderness that usually disappear within a few weeks, and a delayed tightness within the first week after treatment. This “pulling” sensation confirms that the veins were destroyed. Discomfort is usually managed with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Cosmetic improvement of the varicose veins is often seen, although other procedures like ambulatory phlebectomy may be required to obtain optimal results.

When used to treat medical symptoms such as swelling and poor circulation, VenaCure EVLT treatment is usually reimbursed by health insurance. Contact your insurer to determine coverage.

With more than 70,000 procedures performed and more than 60 published clinical articles documenting the VenaCure EVLT treatment efficacy over the last five years, this system is a proven alternative to invasive surgery. To determine if the VenaCure EVLT procedure is a viable treatment for you, consult with your treating physician.