About one in three adults (35%) in the United States have varicose veins, or bulging, distorted varicosities that appear most often in the legs. As one of the most common effects of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), varicose veins can give rise to bothersome symptoms like leg pain or cramping, persistent swelling, and skin changes.
Until recently, conventional vein stripping surgery was the only way to get rid of problematic varicose veins. Luckily, ongoing advances in minimally invasive vein ablation techniques have made it possible to resolve dysfunctional veins easily, effectively, and without surgery.
If you have uncomfortable, unsightly, or otherwise unwanted varicose veins or spider veins, board-certified nurse practitioner Eliza Codd, ARNP, FNP-BC, AG-ACNP-BC, CLS, and our team at Woodlands Vein Center & Preventative Medicine Clinic in Shenandoah, Texas, can help. Learn about the three types of vein ablation we offer, and find out which approach might be best for you.
Understanding how vein ablation works
Vein ablation is a minimally invasive treatment that collapses unwanted varicose veins and spider veins from the inside out, causing them to seal shut and eventually fade away.
Vein ablation can be done in various ways, each of which uses its own specific method to irritate the inner lining of the targeted vessel and force its closure. These include:
- Controlled thermal (heat) energy
- A liquid, foam, or adhesive agent
- A mechanochemical mechanism
While each vein closure technique takes a different approach, they all work in the same basic way and have the same overall goal: To seal off the damaged vein so it’s longer in use. As your blood flow naturally reroutes itself into nearby healthy veins, the treated vein collapses, forms into harmless scar tissue, and gradually fades away.
Three advanced vein ablation techniques
At Woodlands Vein Center & Preventative Medicine Clinic, we offer three different advanced vein ablation procedures. Let’s take a closer look at each one, including how they work and what type of vein problems they’re most effective at treating:
1. Sclerotherapy (visual or ultrasound-guided)
Sclerotherapy injects a sclerosing agent into a damaged vein, causing it to collapse and forcing your blood to redirect itself to healthy, open veins. FDA-approved sclerosing agents include:
- A liquid chemical medication (Asclera®)
- A microfoam medication (Varithena®)
- A specialized adhesive agent (VenaSeal™)
Also referred to as chemical vein ablation, this technique may be done with the aid of an ultrasound if the unwanted vein isn’t fully visible along the surface of your skin.
When it’s recommended
Sclerotherapy is the go-to treatment for small to mid-sized varicose veins, spider veins, and reticular veins that are fully visible along your skin; with ultrasound guidance, it can also be effective for mid-sized varicose veins with sections that twist inward.
2. Radiofrequency vein ablation (RFA)
RFA uses controlled heat (thermal energy) to collapse unwanted varicose veins from within. Our team performs RFA using the VENCLOSE™ procedure. Using ultrasound imaging to visualize the targeted vein in its entirety, we make a tiny incision over one end of the vein and thread a thin, specialized catheter down its length.
The catheter emits thermal energy into the surrounding vessel wall, causing it to shrivel and collapse inward. As we slowly withdraw the catheter, the deflated vein seals itself shut and your blood flow reroutes itself to nearby healthy veins.
When it’s recommended
This highly effective vein ablation technique is often the best solution for chronic venous reflux, or varicose veins that have become swollen, cramped, and painful.
3. Mechanochemical vein ablation
This advanced vein ablation technique combines a sclerosing agent with mechanical action to irritate the vein’s inner lining on two levels — chemical and physical — for faster closure and more complete vein clearing results.
We perform mechanochemical vein ablation with the specialized ClariVein® IC mechanical infusion catheter. With the aid of ultrasound imaging, we insert the tiny catheter into the unwanted vein through a pin-sized entrance point in your skin. The catheter delivers the sclerosing agent into the vein as it spins, irritating the vessel and damaging the vascular wall.
When it’s recommended
We often recommend mechanochemical vein ablation to treat sub-surface varicose veins, or larger, twisted veins that only partially appear near the surface of your skin. It can also be a good option for stubborn varicose veins that don’t fade away completely after a different vein ablation treatment.
Minimally invasive, maximally effective
The size, severity, and location of your damaged vein determine which vein ablation method is best for you. Whichever one it happens to be, you can expect a minimally invasive, maximally effective treatment that comes with no scarring, little risk, and minimal downtime.
If you’re ready to say good-bye to damaged veins, we can help. Call or click online and schedule a visit at Woodlands Vein Center & Preventative Medicine Clinic in Shenandoah, Texas, today.