August 05, 2013
1 min read

Minimally invasive ablation techniques used to treat varicose veins

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Two minimally invasive techniques to treat patients with varicose veins have become alternatives to traditional surgery, according to information presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Annual Summer Meeting in New York.

Todd Cartee, MD, FAAD, assistant professor of dermatology at Penn State/Hershey Medical Center, reported that endovenous laser ablation and radiofrequency ablation — alternatives to vein stripping that require general anesthesia and long recovery — allow patients to recover much quicker.

Typically seen in patients aged older than 60 years, Cartee treats patients with varicose veins who are aged in their 40s and 50s, he said in a press release. He said patients seek treatment to relieve leg pain, fatigue, itching and burning, cramping in the calves, swelling, skin darkening, blood clots and rashes. Spider veins typically do not cause severe symptoms, but create cosmetic concerns.

The minimally invasive treatments for varicose veins, which can be performed by dermatologists who have received additional training, are:

  • Endovenous laser ablation, which is performed under local anesthesia and destroys veins internally. After a one-quarter inch incision is made, an infrared laser delivers heat directly to the affected vein, which can be as long as 30 inches.
  • Radiofrequency ablation, another outpatient procedure, uses radiofrequency waves and energy that cause veins to heat and collapse.

In both procedures, patients can expect to return to normal daily activities the next day, Cartee said.

For spider vein treatment, sclerotherapy utilizes a sclerosing agent injected through small needles into clusters of veins. The procedure generally is performed in two or three office visits and is more efficient and less painful for patients who do not have additional symptoms.

“Leg vein problems are treatable, so patients with bothersome symptoms or concerned by the appearance of their legs should see a board-certified dermatologist to discuss their treatment options,” Cartee said.

Disclosure: Todd Cartee reported no relevant financial disclosures.

For more information:

Cartee T. SYM S006: Update Platform: Cosmetic and Dermatologic Surgery, Update on Leg Veins. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting 2013; July 31-Aug. 4, New York.