It used to be the case, in the not so distant past, that varicose vein treatment was something people avoided like the plague! It was a highly invasive surgery called “vein stripping” where varicose veins were surgically removed. It involved a lot of blood and a lot of scarring. The recovery time was extremely long and quite painful so people ended up missing a lot of work and feeling miserable. To make matters even worse, this older type of varicose vein treatment did not have a good success rate. In fact, it was less than fifty percent effective! Not a good bang for your buck (or pain)!
So, most people, even two decades ago, would just suffer through with the symptoms that varicose veins can bring about and avoid varicose vein treatment unless there was a critically dire medical need. Fortunately, that has all changed with the rapid advancement of new techniques that are minimally invasive and can be done on an outpatient basis with little recovery time and very little discomfort in most cases.
Another major issue that has made varicose vein treatment radically change was the way insurance companies and general practitioners used to viewed the problem compared to how they view it today. The old way of thinking was that varicose veins was just a “cosmetic” problem and or just a sign of “growing older,” and wiser of course, like wrinkles and gray hair. General doctors might tell their patients to walk more, elevate their legs when they could, and or wear compression stockings. Insurance companies simply refused to pay for varicose vein treatment because they did not deem it to be “medically necessary.” Luckily, this has all changed too and rapidly so!
Most general doctors seem to have learned over the past decade that varicose veins are a medical condition that needs a specialist. Most of them now refer their patients out to a good varicose vein treatment clinic like Metro Vein Centers or to a vein surgeon. Insurance companies have been forced to accept the fact that varicose veins are NOT just a cosmetic issue. However, most of them still require a thorough evaluation and solid proof from a vein specialist to authorize coverage for varicose vein treatment. This is another reason it is a good idea to work with a specialist on your diagnosis and treatment. They will know exactly how to document your case so your insurance will cover the procedures you need to fix the varicose vein problems you have.
The three most common types of modern day varicose vein treatment are:
2. Endovenous Laser Treatment (also known commonly as ELTor EVLT)
3. Pulsed Light Therapy (also known as transdermal laser treatment)
Sclerotherapy uses an extremely tiny needle to inject a liquid or a foam into your problem veins that causes them to “ablate,” i.e. collapse and close off from any blood stream.
Endovenous Laser Treatment uses an extremely tiny needle to first make a tiny hole in the problem vein. An extremely tiny laser is then inserted into the vein through this tiny hole and highly precise wavelengths of laser energy are then used to ablate the vein. This is done in small segments as the laser is pulled back out of the vein slowly.
Pulsed Light Therapy is primarily used for spider veins, which are varicose capillaries, smaller in diameter than regular veins. Pulsed light is used to heat them from the outside and cause them to ablate.
Metro Vein Centers offers all three of these varicose vein treatments. In all three of them, the ablated vessels are reabsorbed by the body, usually leaving no trace. This does not happen instantly but it usually happens within a few weeks of the procedure.
The recovery time in all three types of modern varicose vein treatment above is remarkably fast. Many people return to work and their normal activities the same day of the procedure or the following day. In most cases, they are told to wear compression stockings that night which is usually enough to keep the pain at a bare minimum. Patients are also encouraged to walk several times a day to make the healing process go even faster! Even in the rare instances where there are post procedure complications, in almost all cases, it is far less painful than the recovery period used to be for vein stripping!
There’s also a new modern varicose vein treatment that shows incredible promise but is not yet approved in the United States, although it has been tested. It’s called high intensity focused ultrasound or HIFU. The best part about this new treatment is it is completely non-invasive! It uses ultrasound to ablate varicose veins and it doesn’t hurt a bit! If you’ve ever gotten a sonogram when pregnant or a duplex ultrasound scan to check out your inner veins, also known as doppler ultrasound, then you experienced something very similar. A device is used to send sound waves (a particular band of electromagnetic energy) through your skin through a gel medium to make the connection tight. One device that has already received a patent to do this is called an Echopulse. This technique may very well revolutionize varicose vein treatment even more!