Varicose and spider veins are treated by the Department of Interventional Radiology in conjunction with the Department of Vascular Surgery. We are able to provide minimally-invasive treatment using the latest technologies. All patients undergo a duplex ultrasound vein mapping and individual treatment plans are devised for each patient based on symptoms, physical findings and ultrasound results.
For major varicose veins we use one of two techniques:
- Endovascular laser vein sclerosis, or ELVS ("Elvis") is a highly effective and safe outpatient alternative to stripping of serious varicose veins. This procedure involves inserting a catheter into the damaged vein through a needle puncture and using laser energy to shrink and seal the vein shut. Patients are satisfied with this procedure because it allows them to resume normal activity immediately after the treatment.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy is also done as an outpatient procedure under either local or general anesthesia. It involves making a 2-3 inch incision in the groin to tie off the damaged vein and then passing a fine instrument down the damaged vein which allows it to be removed completely through a quarter-inch long incision in the upper calf. Patients go home after the procedure and can resume full activities as soon as they are able. This is the preferred treatment for very large varicose veins.
Smaller branch veins can be treated either by sclerotherapy or microphlebectomy:
- Sclerotherapy is a method of injecting varicose veins with a solution which damages the vein wall and causes it to become sticky. A compression bandage then causes it to scar shut and eventually disappear. Sclerotherapy generally requires several treatment sessions and is the preferred method of dealing with small varicosities and spider veins.
- Microphlebectomy is a procedure used to treat larger branch veins which may not be suitable for injection. Tiny punctures are made to extract veins near the surface of the skin. The punctures are small and do not require stitches. The cosmetic results with this method are very good.