What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged blood vessels that form beneath the skin surface. The one-way valves in the veins that would normally channel the blood back to the heart do not function properly, causing the blood to ‘pool’ in the veins. This pooling stretches the veins, creating swollen and twisted blood vessels that appear under the skin as blue, rope-like veins. These veins can become large and unattractive and can produce symptoms such as tired, heavy, aching, burning, itching or cramping legs.
How are Varicose Veins treated?
The choice of which treatment is best for and individual may vary depending on a number of factors including the size and position of the varicose veins and whether there are any underlying blood flow or reflux problems.
What are the treatment options?
Varicose veins can be treated by surface sclerotherapy if there is no significant underlying venous pathology.
When varicose veins are associated with underlying venous pathology then to control and manage these deeper veins will require either Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS), EndoVenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) or Radiofrequency.
Whilst at the Cosmetic & laser Medical Centre we specialise in minimally invasive leg vein treatments without surgery there may be certain individual patients where a surgical option may need to be considered and if necessary appropriate referral can be provided.
What if I have both Varicose Veins & Spider Veins?
Treating the underlying varicose veins will not usually result in any significant reduction in spider veins. Generally to achieve optimal results the underlying varicose veins are managed first and then spider veins are treated as secondary procedure.
How are Varicose Veins Treated?
With modern technology nearly all Varicose Vein Treatment can be performed in a Leg Vein clinic without hospital, surgery or downtime. Whilst some quite large Varicose Veins can be treated by surface injections, the majority of Varicose Vein treatment is of the deeper underlying Varicose Veins. To target veins below the surface of the skin Ultrasound technology is used to visualise the deeper veins.
Varicose Vein treatment using ultrasound imaging are generically called Ultrasound Guided or EndoVenous and there are 3 main methods: Injections, Laser and Radiofrequency. The choice of which Ultrasound Guided treatment for Varicose Veins is most appropriate in each individual patient is determined with the help of the detailed information from a Mapping Scan.
Ultrasound Guided injections are called Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (abbreviated as UGS). This treatment is the most straightforward of the Ultrasound Guided treatments and is the treatment of choice if past surgical stripping has been performed, for branches (tributaries) of the main drainage veins and for less severely damaged valve problems in the main veins.
Ultrasound Guided Laser and Ultrasound Guided Radiofrequency are both methods of delivering heat to the inside of Varicose Veins to shut down and seal off these veins. These procedures are used to treat the main drainage veins and target Varicose Veins that in the past would have required surgical stripping. Both of these treatments can be done within a Leg Vein clinic without needing hospitalisation or a general anaesthetic. A small catheter is inserted into the skin, and either a laser fibre or radiofrequency fibre is guided by ultrasound imaging into the Varicose Vein being treated. The Varicose Vein can then be heated to seal off the damaged vein. Patients are able to walk immediately after these treatments and return to work the next day.
The use of acrylic glue as an injection technique to seal off Varicose Veins (called VENASEAL) is a newer option that can be considered. However as yet the long term results compared to the more established treatments has not been demonstrated. It is also a more expensive option as it is not covered by any Medicare rebate.
What are the likely costs?
Generally speaking expect the out of pocket expenses with Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy to be around $750-$1000 per leg. For catheter procedures with Laser or Radiofrequency expect the out of pocket cost to be around $2500 for one leg and $4500 if both legs are treated. For more information on the varicose vein treatment and costs, see our leg vein treatments page.