Vein care has advanced dramatically in the last ten years. As recently as 2010, medical journals still boasted that the “gold standard of varicose vein treatment was surgical ligation and vein stripping.” In 2017, vein stripping is practically a treatment of the past. Thankfully, modern, minimally invasive vein procedures are here and are outstanding.
For women, advances in vein treatment have been particularly important. Women experience venous disease almost twice as commonly as men. Much of this risk may be related to pregnancy. In one study, varicose veins were seen in 13% of women after their first pregnancy, 30% after their second, and 57% of women who had three or more children. For many women, it can also sometimes be difficult to find the right doctor because it is important to find a doctor who is an expert at treating both medical and cosmetic venous disease. For a woman concerned with improving both the health and the appearance of her legs, choose a physician who is skilled in endovenous laser ablation, ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, phlebectomy and cosmetic sclerotherapy.
Vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency, is usually caused by problems in the shallow or “superficial” system of veins in the legs. These veins can develop leaky valves and allow blood to flow in the wrong direction back towards the feet. This can cause leg heaviness, discomfort, swelling, restless leg syndrome, and even leg ulcers and other problems.
In the past, doctors sought to completely remove diseased veins surgically. This required many small (and sometimes not so small) scars and carried a higher risk of complications. For this reason, many people were hesitant to seek treatment of their veins.
Over the last fifteen years, vascular procedures have been refined to allow veins to be closed from the inside using a laser fiber to seal the interior of a vein.
Surprisingly, sealing a vein from the inside with a laser actually results in better cure rates than when surgery was used to completely remove a vein. The previously performed technique of vein ligation and stripping often resulted in vein regrowth; however, the relatively gentle procedure of closing a vein from the inside leaves the venous system resting comfortably.
New treatments are low-risk, outpatient, and well-tolerated. Techniques such as endovenous laser ablation are most often covered by insurance and are minimally invasive, walk-in/walk-out procedures that often allow for the resumption of routine activities the next day. Vigorous exercise can usually be resumed one week after the procedure.
With so many advances in the field of vein treatment, how can you ensure that you are receiving the best treatment possible? Seek out a vein specialist who is fellowship-trained and who is certified by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM). Vein care is now a field of its own, and the board exam offered by the ABVLM establishes that a physician has the experience and knowledge to provide you with state-of-the-art care.
Dr. Brent Taylor of Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta is double-boarded, certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine. For more information on Dr. Taylor or vein care treatments, contact us!