Is it time to treat your varicose veins?
Common questions answered by Dr Wall – SmartClinics George Street (Brisbane city)
What’s the best way to avoid Varicose or Spider veins from becoming worse?
The reason for the appearance of varicose veins are multifactorial and include injury to veins from trauma, pregnancy and heritage. The jury is still out on whether wearing high heels is a contributing factor. Once they are present they are likely to persist and worsen over time. Wearing compression stockings will slow the progress of varicose veins and overcome much of the complications of varicose veins. However compression stockings are hot and uncomfortable and for the most part impractical for most people.
What are the different types of treatments available for Spider and Varicose Veins on my legs?
Endovenous last ablation (EVLA) is an effective method of treating the main truncal superficial veins of the leg. These are the veins into which you varicose veins should flow. A laser probe is passed up the Great saphenous vein to efficiently remove this vein. EVLA is done in conjunction with sclerotherapy to treat the secondary veins. SmartClinics George Street does not offer EVLA at this time.
What is the success rate of the treatment? Is one treatment better than the other?
For the treatment of small varicose veins including spider veins, of the lower limbs, the only real option is sclerotherapy. It has a high success rate of over 90%. EVLA is the gold standard for treatment of the truncal veins particularly where these are very large and has a high success rate of over 95%. Sclerotherapy is effective in treating truncal veins but is limited by the size of the veins. On veins up to 7mm in diameter it is very effective – over 95%.
Can I get treatment while I am pregnant?
Sclerotherapy is contradicted in pregnancy.
What will happen at my initial assessment before treatment?
Are your assessment, the doctor will examine your legs for varicose veins and signs of complications of venous incompetence, before discussing your treatment options. Be prepared to expose your legs fully. Additionally many patients will require Ultrasound assessment “mapping” of their veins at a radiologist, prior to planning treatment and commencing sclerotherapy.
Does the treatment hurt? Are there any risks of side effects?
Sclerotherapy involves numerous injections through the skin. However the needles used are very fine and well tolerated by most patients.
The most common side effects experienced with sclerotherapy are:
- Itching – you may experience mild itching at the injection site and urticaria or hives which disappears rapidly.
- Hyperpigmentation – some patients notice a light brown discolouration laong the treated vein due to haemosiderin staining in the skin as the vein disappears. This may persist for you to 12 months.
- Allergic reactions – very rarely(<1% in 1000) a patient may have an allergic reation to the sclerosing agent. This risk is greater in patients who have a history of allergic reactions.
- Pain – A few patients may experience mild to moderate pain and some bruising around the injection site or along the course of the vein. The veins may be tender to touch after the treatment and an uncomfortable sensation may be felt along the vein route. This pain is usually temporary lasting 1 to 7 days. Tenderness from clotting along the treated vein can be relieved by Nurofen of by the doctor releasing trapped blood after a few days.
Are the results instant? And if I have lots of veins will I need more than 1 treatment?
The results of sclerotherapy take a few weeks as the sclerosed veins are slowly absorbed by your body. Your doctor will usually reassess your veins at four weeks after the initial treatment. The number of treatment required differs for each person and can range from one to six, with average being three to four.
What are the costs involved? Does Medicare cover any of the fees?
The costs of sclerotherapy at SmartClinics George Street varies from $250 to $600 per treatment. Medicare gives a rebate of $95.00 per treatment. There is alos the cost of the compression stockings which need to be worn for a period after the treatment. Private health funds may rebate the cost of the compression stockings, but do not pay for sclerotherapy.