Dr. John Happel | Sep 22, 2018 | 0
If You Only Read One Article About Varicose Vein Laser Treatment,
Read This One – Varicose Vein Laser Treatment Summarized
This article will give you all of the information that you need to decide whether or not you are a good candidate for varicose vein laser treatment.
It will also help you understand how this technology works and what to expect after a laser treatment.
We have already discussed the laser vs. radiofrequency debate in a previous article.
What exactly is Varicose Vein Laser Treatment?
Varicose veins are the large, ropey veins on the surface of the skin of your legs. They are usually inherited.
Varicose veins often ache, hurt, or itch.
They can cause your legs to feel heavy, tired or swell. They can cause cramps or Charlie horses.
Laser treatment for varicose veins is not performed on the actual varicose veins themselves.
Instead, a laser fiber is inserted under local anesthesia with the aid of ultrasound guidance into just the saphenous vein.
Simplistically, the saphenous vein can be thought of as the root of the varicose veins which are seen on the skin’s surface.
The great saphenous vein, the small saphenous vein and occasionally the anterior or posterior accessory saphenous vein are the veins that can be lasered.
So picture the varicose veins being the branches coming off one or more saphenous veins.
How Does the Laser Work?
Laser treatments of the saphenous veins cause the targeted vein to close, seal and become absorbed by your body. The first thing people think at this point is – “Don’t I need that vein?”
“Could getting rid of the saphenous vein mess up my circulation?” is the next question most people have at this point of the discussion.
The answer is no.
Years ago, we used to strip or remove the saphenous vein without any adverse effects at all on your circulation.
The larger and more important deeper veins, which are located near the bones, take over very easily.
All of the veins in your legs are interconnected in a vast network.
Abnormal superficial veins can be easily sacrificed. Blood is rerouted through the venous connections in the network that already exist. You don’t have to make new veins when abnormal veins are eliminated.
Since the deep veins already carry over 90% of the blood back to your heart, there is no problem in sacrificing a diseased vein where the blood is flowing in the wrong direction when you stand or sit.
Blood is easily rerouted to the nearby and deep normal veins.
Your circulation is improved.
The laser heats the blood inside of only your saphenous vein and essentially coagulates it.
What happens to the saphenous vein branches (the varicose veins) coming off of the saphenous vein?
- Sometimes they will decrease in size.
- Sometimes they will appear the same.
- Often your legs will feel better temporarily after the laser treatment of the saphenous vein.
However, because the varicose veins are also connected to a network of other veins, blood will usually remain flowing through them.
As time passes, the negative pressure in the actual varicose veins, which were not treated by the laser alone, will act like suckers. They will pull blood from other veins (often called perforating veins) and enlarge.
That results in recurrent varicose veins.
It Sounds Like For Most People That Laser Treatment Alone for Varicose Veins is Not Enough
That’s why a laser treatment of the saphenous veins alone is usually inadequate treatment for varicose veins.
Most people will be very unhappy if only a laser treatment of their saphenous veins is performed. The varicose veins will often get larger since they were never actually treated.
What else needs to be done to complete the treatment of your varicose veins?
Laser cannot treat the actual varicose veins themselves. The laser needs to be inserted inside of the target veins. The laser catheters are too stiff. The fibers cannot make all of the twists and turns made by the varicose veins on the surface of the skin.
Before and after pictures are invaluable to see for yourself exactly what varicose vein laser treatment can do for you.
Remember, usually an adjunctive procedure to get rid of the actual surface varicose veins needs to be done. This additional treatment is either phlebectomy or sclerotherapy depending on the size and extent of your varicose veins.
What is the Future for Varicose Vein Laser Treatments?
There are FDA approved saphenous vein treatments that are already available that may take the place of the laser to treat the saphenous veins.
The reason that these new treatments are not being widely done at this time is that there is no insurance code for them.
If you wanted to have the newest treatments done, it could cost over $3,000 out of pocket. Most people cannot afford this cost when the laser treatments are already available, proven, and covered by insurance.
The reason that laser treatments and radiofrequency treatments will probably go the way of the dodo bird in a few years is that they both require that you wear the dreaded heavy and hot compression stockings after the treatments for one to two weeks.
The latest FDA approved treatment for varicose veins is glue. This glue is the medical equivalent of “Krazy glue”. One of its strongest selling points is that no compression stockings are required.
The discomfort after the glue procedure is less than with both radiofrequency and laser. Glue treatments of saphenous veins should have a code to bill insurance in about two to three years. At present, it is not covered by insurance. If you want glue, you have to pay out of pocket.
However, the varicose veins on the surface of the skin will still usually need to be addressed separately at a later time. That means either additional sclerotherapy or phlebectomy treatments down the road.
Varicose vein laser treatments and radiofrequency both close the saphenous veins in people with varicose veins.
Vein surgery including stripping is no longer required to rid you of your varicose veins.
Adjunctive treatments like sclerotherapy or phlebectomy often need to be done in addition to laser to completely rid you of your varicose veins.
Newer treatments are on the horizon and should be covered by insurance in a few years.
You don’t have to suffer with painful and aching varicose veins any longer.
Great varicose vein care begins and ends with the doctor. Choose a board certified vascular surgeon who specializes in veins.
Dr. Happel was the first doctor in Pittsburgh to perform varicose vein laser treatments and has over thirty years of experience treating varicose veins.
Choose the only vein center in Pittsburgh that has been inspected. It is also the only entire vein center in Pittsburgh (not just the ultrasound department) that is fully accredited.
Give us a call at 724-969-0600 to learn more or contact us here.