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Choosing Your Vein Treatment

Wind the clock back thirty years, and the appearance of a varicose vein meant the end of skirts and a life condemned to compression stockings.

With the numerous vein treatment options available, getting a varicose vein is nothing more than a short-term annoyance. The only way you can truly know what’s causing varicose veins to appear, and the correct way to treat them, is by booking an ultrasound.

Most varicose veins are a result of a faulty valve in the main draining vein of the leg. When the valve is faulty it causes the blood to back-flow and over-flow smaller, less “competent” veins, which then bloat with the unexpected pressure and become visible varicose veins. In 10% of cases, though, the vein is an isolated, abnormal vein that is less serious and easier to treat.

Here are the top 3 treatments for unsightly veins:

1. Surgical stripping vein treatment

Surgical stripping has been the treatment option recommended by most doctors for the relief of varicose veins over the last 30 years or so. To perform surgical stripping (also known as ligation), the doctor or vascular surgeon begins by making a number of small cuts from the groin to just below the knee, ties off (ligates) the abnormal vein and then removes the vein completely. This method is completed under general anaesthetic with a recovery time of four to six weeks and a 75% success rate. Surgical stripping is still a popular surgery today and is still the most widely used treatment option for varicose veins.

2. Endovenous Laser Ablation vein treatment

In the past 10 years a new varicose vein treatment, Endovenous Laser Ablation, has been turning heads in the dermatological community. This treatment is a minimally invasive procedure and is performed in the doctor’s office with local anaesthetic.

With the patient lying on his or her back, the doctor inserts a small hollow tube into the main draining vein of the leg and uses lasers to seal off the vein. With the vein sealed off, the blood is forced to flow through a secondary venous system, which relieves pressure on the bloated, abnormal varicose veins and allows them to shrink back to normal, invisible size. This procedure has a recovery time of about two weeks with a 90% success rate.

Because of the high success rate and fast recovery time, Endovenous Laser Ablation is slowly becoming known as the most effective means for treatment of varicose veins.

(Also see VeinWave treatment)

3. Sclerotherapy vein treatment

Sclerotherapy is a technique whereby the patient is injected with a salt solution through a small needle into the dilated or abnormal vein. The solution irritates the lining of the vein and causes it, over time, to turn into scar tissue, which will eventually be reabsorbed into the body. This procedure should only be tried by patients who do not have a problem with the valve in main draining vein of their leg, or for patients who have had their main draining vein ligated or ablated; otherwise, there is a 50 per cent chance that the varicose vein will reappear.