Laser treatment is the best option for varicose veins
Varicose veins are common in people who stand or sit for long hours. The condition is characterized by engorged veins and swelling of legs and ankles associated with aches and discomfort. It is often observed in pregnant women and overweight individuals. In a normal person, the valves present in the veins prevent the backflow of blood from dependent parts of the body like the legs. In case of varicose veins, these valves become leaky. The backflow leads to pooling of blood in the vessels.
Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy and surgical removal of the faulty vein are the most commonly employed methods of treating varicosity. However, of late, endovenous laser ablation of the vein has been gaining increasing popularity. A new research published in the recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and carried out by researchers including Dr. Julie Brittenden from the vascular surgery department of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, has found that laser therapy is the best option for treating varicose veins.
The researchers observed 798 patients who underwent treatment for varicose veins in 11 surgical centers in the United Kingdom, between November 2008 and October 2012. The patients either underwent foam sclerotherapy for occluding the veins, or they underwent endovenous laser ablation, or the veins were removed surgically. The patients were examined after six months of the procedure and the results were compared.
It was observed that all the patients had a reduction in their symptoms but experienced side effects like lumpiness, numbness or staining of the skin. However, while the incidence of side effects was 6% in patients with foam sclerotherapy and 7% with surgery, it was only 1% in case of laser therapy. It was also seen that 84.4% of patients undergoing surgery and 83% of patients undergoing laser therapy had a successful occlusion of affected veins compared to only 54.6% in case of sclerotherapy. The researchers plan to follow up the patients for five years to study the long term effects of the different procedures.