14 Jun Non-Surgical Varicose Vein Treatment | The DOC Clinic
Varicose Veins and Spider Veins – Non Surgical Treatment Options
Effective spider vein removal treatments, or treatment for varicose veins, once necessitated surgery which would require down time for recovery. Nowadays, both these common concerns can be addressed non-surgically with procedures that can have you potentially back to work the following day! This blog post looks at the best and most effective treatments to remove or reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins, all available from The DOC Clinic.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are veins that have become dysfunctional and allow venous blood to flow backwards down your leg. This places more pressure on other veins, which causes them to enlarge and also appear to spread.
Veins become dysfunctional for a variety of different reasons, ranging from weight gain to genetic predisposition, pregnancy, the person’s occupation (e.g. hairdressers, factory workers, surgeons, masseuses, retail workers), and trauma, to name a few.
Identifying Varicose Veins in the Body
Sometimes as varicose veins develop, the whole vein may not be visible to the naked eye. So those mild or major bulges you may see along your inner leg may have deeper connections tracking all the way to your groin. This can only be identified with a formal venous duplex ultrasound. If a practitioner treats only the known visible vein that has initially raised the patient’s concerns, the likelihood of the treatment being unsuccessful, or resulting in a quick recurrence in the growth of the treated veins is significantly higher, as the root cause has not been identified and treated. Dr Omarjee describes this like turning the “Waterfall” off that flows into the abnormal veins in your lower legs.
The Best Treatment for Varicose Veins
Treating varicose veins need not be painful like conventional surgical stripping (performed under general anaesthetic). Some of the best non-surgical varicose vein treatment options, particularly for the thighs and legs, include ultrasound guided sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment, both of which enable you to walk out of the clinic straight after the treatment.
FAQs About Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is a treatment procedure in which irritant chemicals are injected into the veins you’re looking to eliminate. We have a lot of people asking “is sclerotherapy painful?”, and that’s a fair question. The discomfort of ultrasound guided sclerotherapy (“UGS”) is at most the feeling you experience when you undergo a blood test. The procedure can come with numerous side effects, including bruising (which should subside after a few weeks), swelling (particularly with larger veins) and potential allergic reaction to the chemical used in the treatment.
The discomfort from endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) can cause more discomfort than ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, but can be usually well managed with anti-inflammatory tablets from the chemist.
The procedure for sclerotherapy takes 30-45 mins to complete, you are then fitted with a specific venous compression stocking for a few weeks. You are advised to avoid strenuous exercise for at least 1 week, but encouraged to walk daily for at least 30 minutes.
How long does it take to see the results of sclerotherapy?
Ultimately, the results will likely vary depending on the size of the vein(s) being treated and the patient’s commitment to post-treatment recovery. Immediately after receiving injectable sclerotherapy, we recommend that the patient takes a short 15 minute walk, after which they can carry on with their daily activities and duties. Patients receiving treatment for larger varicose veins are required to wear compression stockings day and night for the next 14 days. Dermnet NZ suggests that regular treatments might be needed at 6 to 12 week intervals to see up to 85% success at three years.
Is sclerotherapy permanent? Sclerotherapy is permanent in the sense that the injected chemicals help to dissolve the affected veins, but it doesn’t stop new varicose veins from forming
The Risks and Benefits of Varicose Vein Treatment
The risks from both sclerotherapy and vascular laser surgery are minimal. The benefits from treatment are usually outstanding and deliver long term success. Unfortunately, varicose veins are a long term condition (‘chronic’) and yearly checks are recommended to prevent and manage any recurring veins or manage new veins that pop up over time.
What Are Spider Veins?
What about spider veins? Well, there are also treatments for this very common concern. At least 25% of the population have obvious spider veins and associated veins on their legs. The most important task is to examine the leg and organise a venous duplex ultrasound (if applicable) to exclude any underlying causation (e.g. Underlying varicose veins).
Spider vein removal treatment options involve micro-sclerotherapy (regarded as the most effective treatment for surface veins) or a vascular laser to treat surface veins. Sclerotherapy can only be performed legally by a medically trained doctor who has undertaken training in this treatment option.
Sclerotherapy Treatment for Spider Veins
The drug injected with sclerotherapy is a salt and sulphur sclerosant solution that works locally at the site of the vein injected and induces the inner walls of the vein to be irritated / damaged and causes them to want to seal together, a process called “sclerosis”. A specific vascular stocking is then fitted and worn for a few weeks to promote the vein eradication, which can take several weeks to months to totally disappear.
The number of treatments needed to improve your surface leg veins is dependent on the severity of veins present, and this will be discussed with you in your initial consultation with Dr Omarjee. There may be a Medicare rebate for your leg vein treatments.
Recovery and Downtime
There is no down-time from these treatments, so you can return to work straight after treatment sessions. Each treatment session involves one or both legs/thighs injected over 20-30 minutes. We advise that you do not undertake vigorous exercise for 48 hours, but you can walk as much as you like straight away. It is also advised not to undertake any long-haul flights of greater than 3 hours (e.g. Melbourne to Perth) within the first week post treatments.
Vascular Laser Treatments for Spider Vein Removal
The other option is the use of a laser for spider vein removal on the legs or thighs. Not all lasers are the same, so do your research when looking for a laser-based treatment for veins on the legs or the face. The DOC Clinic has two vascular based lasers at the clinic to address all facial veins, leg veins and body vascular malformations (e.g. Angiomas, Haemangiomas).
The known gold standard lasers (i.e. those lasers regarded industry-wide as ‘The Best’) for surface veins are lasers with a wavelength of 1064nm or 532nm. Dr Omarjee uses his Cutera Nd: YAG laser with its wavelength of 1064nm or his IDAS 532nm. It is unusual to treat surface leg veins with laser, as sclerotherapy is a substantially more effective treatment option. But facial veins are usually treated with laser 1st line, as it is a more effective option for these smaller vessels on the face.
Sometimes Dr Omarjee may introduce laser treatment to eradicate small vessels on your legs if they are difficult to access with sclerotherapy (e.g. “matting”).
There are Medicare rebates for treating facial veins or redness with a vascular laser in the hands of a specialist laser doctor.
Discover How We Can Help with Your Varicose Veins or Spider Veins
Nice work making it to the home stretch, having explored some of the numerous non-surgical treatment options for varicose and spider veins. Please feel free to look at the gallery on our website for more examples of leg veins, whether they are cosmetic veins (spider veins), or ropey varicose veins. Dr Omarjee has been treating leg veins non-surgically for over 16 years. He is a member with the ANZ society of Phlebology and a Fellow of the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia.