Enlarged veins appearing on the legs affect a large proportion of the population. Spider Veins, reticular veins and varicose veins are the three most common types of ‘abnormal’ veins and are usually seen in combination.
Varicose veins are the largest of the three, and can be flesh coloured, dark purple or blue, often appearing above the skin’s surface on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg. Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but are smaller and red or blue in colour. Reticular veins are larger and deeper and often feed spider veins. Although many sufferers are concerned with the aesthetic appearance of the these veins, in some cases varicose vein disease can result in health problems, such as blood clots, eczema, skin breakdown and ulceration and, rarely, skin cancers.
According to Melbourne-based cosmetic physician Dr John Marx, surgery to remove unwanted veins can be avoided, given the efficacy of minimally invasive treatment options available to patients today. ‘With the combination of endovenous Laser Therapy ( EVLT) and Ultrasound-guided Sclerotherapy, patients are seeing much more pleasing results’ he says. ‘ I believe in three to four years time surgical treatment of unwanted veins will be virtually eradicated.’
Sclerotherapy is a treatment that involves injection a solution into unwanted veins, and is one of the most common treatments for both spider veins and varicose veins. The injected solution causes the vein walls to swell, stick together and seal shut. This stops blood flow and the vein becomes scar tissue, resulting in fading of the vein. The expected cost for treatment will be provided following an assessment of the situation.
According to Dr Mar in Australia, Medicare safety Net reimburses eligible patients 80 percent of out of pocket medical expenses once a threshold has been reached. EVLT is the latest method for the treatment of major veins and involves minimal discomfort. These were previously treated by ‘stripping surgery’ under general anaesthetic. The EVLT procedure involves the placement of an ultra-sound guided laser fiber into the abnormal vein trough a tiny incision. Local anaesthetic is then administered to the vein. The laser is activated, which destroys the vein walls along the treated length, and the laser fiber is removed.
Following each treatment, patients are required to wear a compression stocking to assist closure of the treated veins and protect against deep vein thrombosis.
The UGS procedure is performed using ultrasound technology, which locates the abnormal veins and allows the doctor to accurately and safely inject the solution. Once injected, the veins collapse and the body’s natural process of absorption begins.
Most patients with varicose veins are suitable for UGS treatment. Prior to treatment, an ultrasound scan is performed to work out the exact nature of the vein problem. The appearance of the treated veins improves over a few weeks, with continued improvements occurring for about three months.
Unlike surgery, Dr Marx says using the combination of EVLT and UGS does not require hospitilisation or anaesthetic. For these reasons, the cost of treating unwanted veins by EVLT and UGS can be considerably reduced. ‘ There is minimal downtime’ patients can walk the same day without any major discomfort’ says Dr Marx
According to Dr Marx, although varicose veins are traditionally more common in women, more and more men are also suffering from Varicose veins. ‘Many men are realising the complications that can occur from varicose veins and are seeking treatment for them.’ says Dr Marx.
With today’s advanced, non surgical treatment options available, it appears unwanted veins can be a thing of the past.