If you have varicose veins, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. That’s because these abnormal veins are a sign that you have a vein condition called venous insufficiency or a venous reflux disease. If varicose vein treatment is not sought right now, this vein disease will continue to grow and worsen. Then one day it will become chronic and painful symptoms will begin to crop up. Chronic venous insufficiency leads to venous ulcers, bleeding, blood clotting, edema, phlebitis and more. So, we would highly recommend seeking the right treatment option, including radio frequency ablation and sclerotherapy. Don’t wait for the complications to start as you will regret it; seek medical help as soon as possible.
Varicose vein treatment options
Unless you have very small varicose veins, commonly known as spider veins, you should get treated the soonest possible. It is much easier to treat varicose veins (varices or varicosities) in their early stages of growth. Waiting means that the veins will continue to swell and enlarge. As having these abnormal leg veins means that you have faulty valves, don’t expect them to disappear on their own. They must be eliminated with the most appropriate treatment method. If they are small to moderate, sclerotherapy can be applied. On the other hand, larger veins require a more effective treatment approach: radio frequency ablation (RFA) therapy. If this method doesn’t work, your vascular specialist will pick the best alternative. Meanwhile, we will discuss RFA and sclerotherapy in depth so you can understand what they are all about.
Radio frequency ablation therapy for varicose veins
This is one of the most popularly used methods of curing varices. It uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to heat the enlarged vein and close it for good. When this heat energy accesses the problematic vein via a catheter, it causes closure and re-routing of the blood flow. Just incase you will undergo RFA therapy; here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions.
What things should you tell your vein doctor prior to treatment?
Once you go for your appointment, your doctor will want to know a number of things. These include:
- Whether you are pregnant or suspect a pregnancy
- Whether you are a lactating mother
- If you frequently smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol
- Whether you suffer from any drugs allergies or reactions. If any, then tell your vascular doctor about them.
- Tell your radio frequency ablation expert whether you are taking medicines so he or she can decide whether you will stop taking some of them or all of them. If you are taking blood thinning drugs, anticoagulants, inform your veins doctor immediately. Additionally, tell him or her about all prescribed drugs, street drugs, herbal drugs, OTC drugs or supplements you could be taking.
- What will the treatment process be like?
Generally, radio frequency ablation treatment takes forty-five to sixty minutes. The whole vein treatment time may take up to three hours because you need to be treated and taken to a recovery room. This does not mean that you will be admitted to the hospital; you will go home the same day. Therapy includes the following:
- The varicose vein treatment doctor will have you lie down on a hospital bed.
- Then, the doctor will use the ultrasound imaging guide to carry out the treatment process.
- Next, your vein will be injected with an anesthetic drug to numb it.
- Once the area becomes numb, the radio frequency ablation specialist will puncture your vein with a needle.
- Then, he or she will put a catheter with the radio frequency heat source inside your abnormal vein.
- If you feel some pain, the physician might give you an extra shot of a numbing medicine.
- And once the catheter reaches where it should, the doctor will gradually draw it backward. As it travels backward, it will heat and close off the vein.
- If there are side branch varicose veins, the radio frequency ablation expert can remove them or tie them off via the tiny punctures or incisions they made at the beginning of the procedure.
- After finishing the treatment process, the physician will remove the catheter and apply pressure to the insertion site. This will stop the bleeding.
- Finally, he or she will provide medical-grade compression stockings that are to be worn immediately. In their place, the vascular expert may bandage your leg to boost blood circulation the same way a compression hose can.
- How is the recovery process like?
A good varicose vein treatment doctor will give you certain instructions prior to releasing you. They will ask you to:
- Take all the prescriptions on time and in the right dosage
- Take care of the catheter insertion area to keep it from getting infected.
- Always be alert to detect signs of an infection at the catheter insertion area.
- Put on elastic stockings or bandages according to his or her instructions.
- Elevate your legs every day to reduce swelling around ankles and boost blood flow back to the heart.
- Exercise a few times a week. The most useful and safe form of exercise you can do after your radio frequency ablation therapy is walking.
- Keep away from strenuous workouts or activities such as heavy lifting, running or standing for too long.
- Avoid traveling in a plane or enjoying saunas or hot baths until you have fully recovered.
What to report to a varicose vein doctor
If you notice a fever that is over 38 degrees Celsius or higher, call your healthcare expert. In addition, report any degree of shortness of breath or chest pain. If you notice that the treated leg is hurting and/or swollen, call your doctor immediately. In case there are signs of infection at the catheter insertion area, tell your healthcare provider. These include inflammation, redness, mounting pain, bleeding, warmth, or foul-smelling pus. It is also necessary to call your doctor about extreme tingling or numbness in your leg.
Complications of radio frequency ablation
RFA can lead to serious complications, although it is not a must. These include blood clots, infection, bleeding, burning of the skin around the treated veins, and nerve damaged in the cured area. Moreover, some people may not notice improvement in the appearance of their varicose veins after treatment. There is also a chance that your body could react badly to the drugs used during radio frequency ablation therapy.
Now you know about RFA and have no reason to fear it. The procedure is not painful at all, as a numbing drug will be given. So if have varicose veins, call Dr. Faisal Siddiqi to make your first appointment with him. He is one of the top vascular specialists in the U.S and has treated several people in a successful manner.
If you have small to medium-size varicose veins, the best way to treat them is through sclerotherapy. Just like RFA, this technique is more minimally invasive than ligation (vein stripping surgery). It entails an injection with a special chemical solution or saline solution that directly damages the problematic vein. This treatment procedure causes a vein to shrivel and disappear. If your legs are burning, aching, swelling, itching and cramping at night, go seek a professional vein doctor who can perform sclerotherapy on you. Right before the procedure, you need to learn more about it. So, here is a quick guide.
What to do before therapy
As with RFA, ensure that you talk to your sclerotherapy expert about your current health status. If you are taking prescribed drugs, supplements, herbal concoctions, street drugs or over the counter medicines, let your health expert know all about this. If you have allergies related to drugs, your doctor should know about this too, and it is important to mention these medicines. If taking aspirin, blood thinners or NSAIDs, your physician might ask you to stop until after sclerotherapy treatment is over. It is important to wear loose shorts during your treatment, although most clinics will ask you to wear a hospital garment.
How does sclerotherapy work?
The doctor will make use of super fine, thin needles to pierce your vein and treat it with a sterile sclerosing agent. After injecting the solution into your spider veins or varices, it will irritate the vein’s lining and make it swell and collapse. The vein will then be left alone to disappear in due course. Sclerotherapy is performed on an outpatient basis, particularly, if the affected area is not big. However, a few patients might be admitted after undergoing treatment. During the procedure, you might feel needles pricking your vein and this mild discomfort might be accompanied with a mild burning sensation. Depending on the size of veins being treated and their location, you might require more than one session. In about thirty to forty-five minutes, a treatment session will be over and you will wear a compression hose.
Recovery after sclerotherapy
After your doctor completes treatment, there will be slight side effects you might experience. The most common side effect is that the biggest varicose veins might develop some lumps for a couple of weeks or months. Then the lumpy texture will disappear. Raised red patches are common at all sites of injection; they should go away in a matter of days. As well as these, you might see brown spots or lines on your skin; these will disappear in about six months, although they can stay for good.
Expect a bit of bruising too around the injection site, which can continue for several days or weeks. Sclerotherapy tends to be an extremely great cure for small varicose veins as these disappear in just three to six weeks after treatment. In case veins respond well to treatment, they will never come back again. This does not mean that new varices cannot form overtime. If you see new varices, go back to your varicose veins treatment clinic and get more injections.
After undergoing sclerotherapy, your interventional radiologist will tell you whether the procedure worked or failed. If it didn’t work as desired, you might be asked to visit the clinic again soon. During your new medical visit, your vascular health expert might carry out the imaging procedures again and ask for blood or laboratory tests. Otherwise, a successful session does not imply the end of meeting your specialist. If you develop side effects or complications, give him or her call or go back to the vein clinic in person.
It is important to note that sclerotherapy is a quick procedure that can get rid of up to eighty percent of damaged veins. However, the injected sites can get infected and clots can form in your veins. If you want to avoid these complications and permanent scarring, let a well-educated and experienced doctor treat you. It is also worth noting that large varices do not respond at all to traditional sclerosing therapy. The tinier abnormal veins respond better.
Also, a change of the sclerosing agent can make all the difference when some varicose veins won’t respond to the first injections. Finally, this varicose vein treatment approach will not be picked for you if you are expectant, breastfeeding or bedridden. Doctors will only agree to treat you if you have waited at least three months after delivering a baby.
Varicose veins should be treated even if they are not causing a lot of pain and discomfort. Also, they should be removed even if they are not too big and visible. It is extremely important to have yours treated as soon as you notice them. Otherwise, you will ignore a disease that is continually progressing (venous reflux or venous insufficiency) and will eventually become chronic. Your vascular healthcare provider might decide to treat you via sclerotherapy or RFA. It will depend on how big and severe your varices are. Both procedures are tolerable and effective if they are used for the right purpose. So, call one of the best doctors in the country, Dr. Faisal Siddiqi, and choose when you will meet him for diagnosis and treatment.