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Does laser treatment replace vein stripping?

Surgically removing veins, known as “stripping” is sometimes required, but the method employ at The Laser and Varicose Vein Center is very different than the public's perception of vein stripping. Our ambulatory phlebectomy procedure is done under local anesthesia right here at our facility. It is significantly less traumatic to the leg than traditional stripping and patients can walk out of our center, often returning to work in 2 days.

What about just injecting the veins?

Injection sclerotherapy alone leads to a higher probability that the varicose veins will return. At the Laser and Varicose Vein Center we reserve the use of this technique for only very small veins.

What is vein disease?

Veins are the blood vessels that return blood to the heart from the body. To overcome the force of gravity, inside the veins are one-way valves, which open to allow blood flow to the heart, and close to prevent "reflux" of blood back to the body. When these valves do not completely close, blood can begin to pool in the vein and cause a variety of vein complications.

What are the different types of vein disease?

Spider Veins are the small, thread-like colored veins that are most often seen on the surface of the skin. While many people seek treatment for spider veins for cosmetic reasons, spider veins can also result in substantial discomfort, requiring therapy. Varicose Veins are the large, "rope-like" veins which are often 1/4 or larger in diameter. These veins are not only unattractive, but they can also cause feet to swell, legs to cramp and surrounding skin to itch. Varicose veins generally grow in size over time and can result in substantial pain and complications if not treated.

How common are varicose veins?

Vein disease of the legs is one of the most common medical conditions. Approximately half of the population has some form of vein disease. Varicose veins affect between 15-25% of all adults and approximately 50% of all people over age 50. Women have a higher incidence of vein disease than men.

What can happen if varicose veins aren't treated?

Varicose veins generally worsen over time. Initially, slight pain and restlessness in the diseased leg will be felt. If untreated this pain will increase and result in limitations in walking and cramps during sleeping. Eventually, varicose veins can lead to open sores on the foot, blood clots, and tissue loss.

Who should not be treated?

Patients should wait at least three months after pregnancy or major surgery before being treated for vein disease. Persons with deep vein thrombosis or incompetence and patients who cannot ambulate for other reasons are not good candidates for treatment.

How does endovenous laser therapy work?

Previously, treatment of painful, swollen varicose veins required a surgical procedure called vein stripping, where the vein was completely removed from the leg. More recently, endovenous laser therapy has been developed to treat chronic venous insufficiency by delivering laser through a small puncture in the leg to close the diseased vein.

With endovenous laser therapy, no surgery is required, and the entire procedure can be performed in less than one hour in your physician's office. During the procedure, you are awake and your leg is anesthetized. A thin laser fiber is inserted into the greater saphenous vein in your thigh. Your physician then will deliver laser energy through the fiber and into the vein, causing the vein to close

Why is the laser fiber placed in the thigh, when the varicose veins are located below the knee?

Bulging varicose veins in the lower leg usually are caused by a faulty valve located higher in the leg that can't be seen at the surface. The endovenous laser therapy treats the source of the problem, which then causes the varicose vein in the lower leg to shrink and disappear.

If the vein is closed by the treatment, where does the blood go?

Because there are many veins in the leg, the blood that would have flowed through the closed vein simply flows through other healthy veins after the procedure. The loss of the diseased vein is not a problem for circulatory system.

What are the complications of laser treatment?

Fortunately, endovenous laser therapy has rarely been associated with serious complications when properly performed. Common minor complications of this procedure include bruising, mild itching, tingling, tenderness and tightness in the treated leg for up to two weeks after the treatment.

Is endovenous laser therapy painful?

Although individual responses vary, most people report little to no pain associated with endovenous laser therapy. Often the only sensation is felt during the delivery of anesthetic to the leg. After the procedure, you may feel some tenderness, tingling, itching or tightness in the treated leg, which should disappear within a month.

How successful is endovenous laser therapy?

Clinical results have been published which documents the success of endovenous laser treatment. Like any medical treatment, however, endovenous laser therapy has certain risks, which your physician will explain to you as they apply to your individual case.

How do I know if I have varicose veins?

Fortunately, most vein disease can be seen by looking at the size and color of the vein at the skin surface. In some cases, however, the diseased vein may be deeper in the body and not visible through the skin. As a result, paying close attention to other symptoms is important in diagnosing vein disease.

Many patients with vein disease experience cramping, aching, burning, itching, soreness or "tired" or "restless" legs, especially in the calf muscles. If you experience these symptoms, your physician can quickly and easily perform a test to determine if you have vein disease.

How do varicose veins occur?

The single most important cause of varicose veins is heredity. Approximately 70% of all patients with varicose veins have patents with the same condition. Pregnancy, especially multiple pregnancies, is a contributing cause of vein disease. Other factors influencing vein disease are age, obesity, and jobs, which require long periods of standing.

Can vein disease be prevented?

Generally, no. If you have a family history of vein disease, there is nothing you can do to change your genes. Being overweight can accelerate the progression of vein disease, and long periods of standing can also add to the problem. Diet and footwear are generally believed to be irrelevant in the formation of vein disease.

Will insurance cover the treatment?

Many insurance companies cover the treatment of vein disease that is associated with substantial pain and other complications, but individual insurance companies may limit the types of therapy.

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