Does Treatment for Varicose Veins Hurt?
Having any kind of surgical procedure can be intimidating, and dreading discomfort or pain may cause you to procrastinate scheduling treatment. While venous surgery used to be invasive and painful, that is fortunately no longer the case!
A little about vein stripping and why we don’t do it
Varicose veins used to be removed through a vein stripping procedure, which is painful and requires more downtime than the noninvasive procedures we use at East Tennessee Vein Clinic. When people think about varicose vein surgery, this is often what they think of because of family members that may have had the procedure performed.
Because of the advancements in treatment and the intense nature of vein stripping, most doctors in the United States don’t perform this type of surgery anymore. Unlike today’s treatments, patients would actually be put under general anesthesia fro vein strippingin a hospital setting.
The doctor would remove the saphenous vein —the large venous blood vessel that runs near the inside surface of the leg from the ankle to the groin — and other large, bulging vein branches in one operation. While it’s a large vein, the saphenous vein is a little bit like the appendix. You don’t have to have it, and if it’s causing you problems, it’s OK to remove it.
Aside from the pain and obviously much more invasive procedure, this type of surgery also had a recurrence rate of between 35-50% after 5 years. The techniques we practice at East Tennessee Vein Clinic, however, only have a 5 year recurrence rate of 8%. There is also minimal pain, bruising and scarring.
Advancements in venous surgery
One of the biggest advancements when it comes to venous surgery is the use of the diagnostic ultrasound, which allows Dr. Douglass to assess the extent of your vein disease. The veins that are visible are often not the only ones causing problems within your body. Because of that, we need to be able to see inside your skin!
Ultrasound imaging lets us do that. We’re able to see the entire network of veins and find the root source of your problems. An accurate diagnosis allows us to treat you correctly, with a lower recurrence rate (as long as you come back for any follow-up treatments we recommend.)
Another significant advancement is ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy. Our ultrasound maps out the entire diseased venous network, and using ultrasound visualization, we are able to inject and treat a foamed sclerosant into those veins a great many of which are not visible but significant varicose veins hidden in the skin. That causes them to close down and narrow to where they gradually resorb and disappear.
Types of treatment:
- Endothermal venous ablation using laser (EVLT) or microwave (RFA-Venous Closure Fast)
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy
- Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy including the use of Varithena
- Cosmetic Sclerotherapy
All of these advancements and new treatment options greatly reduce pain and recovery time.
What to expect from your varicose vein procedure
Since varicose veins are hereditary, family members may have recounted their own procedures, or even said that nothing can be done for your legs. Fortunately, that is no longer the case.
All treatment is provided simply with local anesthetic and in some procedures with the use of nitrous oxide/laughing gas. Every effort is made to make you as comfortable as possible. You’ll usually have some mild bruising and swelling right after treatment but will resume normal activity almost immediately after most treatment, being able to both drive yourself to the office for any appointment and home or work again without the need of any assistance. We always recommend wearing compression stockings for a period of time, but you’ll usually be in and out within about an hour without any spinal anesthetic or need for narcotic pain medication.
Any bruising will go away in a couple weeks. If you need to apply any bandages or take any other special precautions, your vein specialist will let you know.