They cause swelling, aches and pain --- and they also cause a dilemma for patients considering surgery.
Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged due to the backflow of blood down into the lower leg. Veins have valves to prevent blood from flowing backwards and leg muscles pump the blood from the lower leg up to the heart against the effects of gravity. However, when veins become varicose, the valves do not work and blood flows back down and pools in the lower leg.
“It’s a dilemma for many patients since traditional treatment calls for a surgery where the veins are cut out of the leg. Many patients would balk at such a procedure because of the pain they knew they would experience, and the prospect of a long recovery,” said Bayhealth General Surgeon Brandt Feuerstein, MD, FACS.
However, a new minimally invasive procedure could bring relief to those patients without having to go through open surgery.
Endovenous ablation allows a surgeon to perform a needle puncture in the leg and insert a catheter that seals off the leaking veins. Closing the vein is similar to shutting off a valve so that blood no longer pools in the lower leg.
“Endovenous ablation is not done for just cosmetic reasons. The procedure helps to relieve the significant pain, swelling, fatigue and chronic skin changes in patients who have varicose veins,” said Dr. Feuerstein. It is commonly used to treat patients with non-healing ulcerations that result from chronic venous insufficiency. “Because the venous blood is immediately redirected back to the normal circulation and away from the varicosities, the results are often dramatic.”