(ARA) – Being “vain” about their looks was not the primary motivation for schoolteacher Jacqueline Munoz and barber Sal Salvaggio to seek treatment for their varicose veins. Rather, it was the fact that it had become increasingly more painful for them to stand for eight hours a day as required by their professions.
Tens of millions of people around the world suffer from the aches, pains, and swelling of varicose veins — symptoms that tend to become more severe by the end of a long day or simply after prolonged sitting or standing. Other factors that can contribute to varicose veins are hormone therapy, heredity, obesity, pregnancy, and age. In severe cases, varicose veins can lead to skin changes resulting in eczema, pigmentation discoloring, ulceration, and bleeding.
Women are almost twice as likely to have varicose veins as men — 25 percent of women have them. The condition is caused by vein valves that fail to close properly, resulting in blood pooling in the vein walls which then causes an outward push, resulting in obvious visual signs of enlargement and bulging. Pain and discomfort often are associated with severe varicose veins.
In the past, varicose vein sufferers like Munoz had to opt for painful surgical ligation and stripping of the vein. Vein stripping involves a hospital operating room procedure whereby two surgical incisions are made in order to tie off and strip the faulty vein, causing swelling and bruising with a recovery period taking several weeks. “I was in pain and uncomfortable for weeks,” said Ms. Munoz.
But Savaggio took a different approach. He discovered recently that the Food and Drug Administration had approved a new, less painful outpatient procedure for the elimination of varicosities associated with reflux of the Greater Saphenous vein. Called Endovenous Laser Treatment or EVLT, the process was developed by Diomed Inc. EVLT is a minimally invasive laser treatment for varicose veins that can be performed under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office.
The treatment itself normally takes less than one hour and initially involves both a physical and ultrasound examination to map the vein, which is then treated with short energy pulses from a laser to seal the abnormal vein. At the end of the procedure, the fiber is withdrawn and a compression bandage is applied. A compression stocking is worn for approximately seven days and the patient is encouraged to resume normal activities, excluding rigorous physical activities.
Patients notice immediate relief from past pain or discomfort. The many patients who have opted for EVLT treatment so far report a short and relatively pain-free procedure as well as an immediate return to daily activities without scarring. Walking immediately following the procedure is encouraged and normal daily activities can be resumed quickly. “I really did feel no pain at all during the treatment. After the procedure, I dressed myself and went back to the shop,” said Savaggio.