When you notice the growth of unusually large veins in the legs, you are experiencing the development of varicose veins. Also referred to as spider veins, varicose veins can form in the legs of men and women of any age group, but the sometimes painful medical condition typically afflicts women during pregnancy, as well as older men and women.
Healthy leg veins transport oxygen deprived blood to the heart, where the heart oxygenates fresh blood to move back into the legs. Veins contain one-way valves that circulate blood from the legs against gravity. When one or more vein valves leak, blood collects in leg veins, which causes the veins to enlarge, or in medical terms, varicose.
OVERVIEW OF VENOUS ABLATION
Otherwise known as the endovenous ablation of varicose veins, a venous ablation implements laser energy or radio frequency technology to stop bleeding and then close varicose vein valves. Dr. Chadda and his team of cardiovascular specialists have used the technique to enhance the appearance of one or both legs, but the primary purpose of performing a venous ablation involves reducing pain, swelling, inflammation, and/or skin irritation. The technique is a non-invasive alternative to surgery, and it leaves little or no scar tissue within the vein or veins.
PREPARING FOR A VENOUS ABLATION
We encourage our patients to let us know about any medications they are taking, including over the counter aspirins and herbal supplements. Our team of nurses, surgeons and technicians also wants you to inform us about any allergies, illnesses, and/or medical conditions that have occurred recently. We might recommend that you stop taking aspirin and blood thinners days or weeks in advance of a venous ablation. Please make plans to have someone drive you home from our clinic after the medical procedure.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE PROCEDURE
Dr. Chadda uses images uploaded by his team of technicians to help him perform non-invasive venous ablations. We typically perform the technique at our clinic by first applying an anesthetic cream over the area where the varicose vein is located. The local anesthetic cream alleviates any discomfort you experience before the medical procedure. Dr. Chadda then will make a tiny incision over the skin above the abnormally large vein.
Using an ultrasound for guidance, Dr. Chadda inserts a catheter through the open skin and positions the catheter precisely within the varicose vein. We inject another dose of a local anesthetic into the varicose vein. Finally, our team of highly trained technicians will apply laser or radio frequency energy, as Dr. Chadda slowly removes the catheter. Pressure applied at the area of the large vein prevents bleeding and after withdrawing the catheter, a nurse will cover the small incision with a bandage. A venous ablation usually takes about an hour to perform.
BENEFITS VERSUS RISKS
The benefits of a venous ablation far outweigh the risks. We do not have to make a surgical incision to access the varicose vein. When compared to the more traditional vein stripping procedure, a venous ablation is more effective and produces far fewer medical complications. With an incision that measures just a few centimeters, a venous ablation leaves at most, a thin, tiny scar on the skin. The greatest benefit of a venous ablation is the treated vein returns to a normal size no more than 12 months after our dedicated team of heart experts performs the procedure.
As with any medical procedure that involves making an incision into the skin, there is a slight risk of infection. According to research data, the risk of an infection that requires treatment by an antibiotic is less than one on 1,000 patients who undergo venous ablations. Any medical procedure involving the insertion of a catheter carries health risks associated with the insertion, such as blood vessel damage and bleeding and/or bruising at or near the insertion point. Laser heat damage to the nerves located near the enlarged vein is very rare and if it happens, the damage repairs quickly.
When you want treatment on a varicose vein, you want to have a licensed and experienced cardiologist with considerable experience performing the venous ablation. Contact our clinic to make an appointment to discuss a venous ablation, from preparing for the medical procedure to learn how to take care of the treated vein at home after the procedure.