Dr. Steve Elias - What procedures help treat varicose veins?

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Treating varicose veins, there are many options available. The most important thing, first, is that the physician needs to identify where is the underlying source of the patient's vein disease. Many times, usually 85-90% of the times, the visible varicose veins are actually being caused by veins that are just a little bit deeper, underneath the skin.

These abnormal veins are putting pressure on the visible varicose veins. So, by treating the underlying cause, which veins are the deepest causing the visible veins. We can impact the patient's symptoms and looks on the veins that they see. If the veins that they see are the only problem, and the underlying veins are normal, then we have other procedures that can treat these visible veins.

And, of course the small spider veins right under the skin, if they are the only cause of the patient's problem, they can be treated directly. Most importantly, patients should understand in the modern era of vein disease treatment almost any treatment involves either no cuts at all, no stitches or just a few little tiny cuts again, that don't require any stitches.

These procedures all are an out-patient procedure, people can walk right after the procedure, there's minimal down time, and minimal impact upon affecting their life. Since the majority, meaning somewhere between 85-90% of vein problems really occur on veins that are a little bit deeper under the skin, those veins that are identified by the ultrasound or doppler.

We have various options to treat this abnormal underlying thing. We can either use laser energy, microwave energy or a form of chemical and mechanical energy. The point of all this procedure is somehow to take the abnormal, leaking vein that's causing the visible varicose veins, and get that vein to seal shut and not leak any further.

These minimally invasive procedures replace what was known as a stripping where patients needed a number of incisions in the groin, knee area and the ankle area and the vein was literally pulled out of the body. That of course caused a lot of bruising, and soreness, and discomfort.

The procedures that're are done now, are all done with a needle stick only. No cuts, no stitches, and they treat the vein from within the vein. Patients can resume their activities the next day including exercise. The results are as good if not better than the traditional surgeries that we had done in the past.

When the underlying vein is normal, and the various procedures that we just described are not needed and all the patient has are the visible varicose veins that are the abnormal veins. There are a few options to treat those also. These options do not include any stitches, sometimes just a needle stick.

What is done is the veins are either removed with tiny, tiny hooks that pull the veins out of the leg or if the veins are not too large, they can be injected with some medicine to make them shrink on their own. So once again, we have options that don not require stitches, options that are done in about 20 -30 minutes, and options that allow the patients to get back to normal activity the next day.