Where vein treatments and conditions are involved, it’s common to have questions and lots of them. We hear many of these questions and understand your concerns. See for yourself some of the most common questions that we hear about our treatments at Heart of Dixie here. Of course, if you have any other questions, we’d be happy to answer them for you either in person or through our contact page.
What is venous insufficiency?
Venous insufficiency, also known as venous reflux, is a condition that develops when the veins in your legs become damaged or diseased. This causes blood to pool in your legs which leads to a number of discomforting symptoms such as leg aches, burning, itching, restless leg, heaviness and fatigue. When left untreated, venous reflux can lead to more significant clinical issues such pain, chronic swelling, skin discoloration, thickening of the skin and possible ulceration.
What is radiofrequency ablation procedure?
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment option for superficial venous reflux. A thin catheter is inserted into the vein through a small opening. The catheter delivers radiofrequency energy to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse, and seal closed. This is an in office procedure done in 30-60 minutes.
What is the VenaSeal closure procedure?
The VenaSeal closure procedure seals or closes the diseased vein using a medical adhesive. The system delivers a small amount of adhesive to the diseased vein. The adhesive seals the vein and blood is rerouted through nearby healthy veins.
Why choose VenaSeal?
Unlike Radiofrequency Ablation, the VenaSeal procedure is completed with no heat. There is no need for multiple needle sticks, and usually no requirement for compression stockings to be worn post-procedure. Patients typically report less pain during this procedure. Studies have shown less bruising and quicker return to normal activities after the VenaSeal procedure.
What happens when you treat venous reflux?
Since veins can’t be repaired, the only alternative is to close down unhealthy veins and re-rout blood flow through healthy veins. Traditionally, this has been done by surgically removing (stripping) the troublesome vein from your leg. Today, other procedures, such as Radiofrequency Ablation and VenaSeal, provide a much less invasive alternative to vein stripping by simply closing the unhealthy vein instead. Once the diseased vein is closed, the blood flow then shifts to other healthy veins.
How are closure procedures such as Radiofrequency Ablation and VenaSeal different from vein stripping?
During a stripping procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in your groin and ties off the vein. After the incision is made, an instrument is thread through the saphenous vein and used to pull the vein out of your leg through a secondary incision just above your calf.
With our technology and training today, there is no need for incisions or surgery. Instead, the vein remains in place and is simply closed using a special catheter inserted through a small puncture. This eliminates the bruising, pain and long recovery often associated with vein stripping. Vein stripping is usually performed in an operating room, under a general anesthetic, while the closure procedure/radiofrequency ablation is performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia.
Why would I want to have my veins treated?
The main treatment goal is to help your legs look and feel better. By relieving your symptoms, we will help you become more active, healthy and have a better quality of life.
How long does Radiofrequency Ablation and VenaSeal take?
Radiofrequency Ablation procedure takes approximately 30-60 minutes per vein procedure. If the VenaSeal procedure is being done this will take a couple of hours as multiple veins are typically being treated in one session.
How do I know how many treatments I will need?
A comprehensive ultrasound will be performed on your legs to screen for venous reflux, blood clots and varicose veins. Further management will depend on the results of your ultrasound. After thorough review of your ultrasound, members of our vein team will review your medical history and discuss your symptoms. We will then come up with a custom treatment plan to meet your individual needs. Most patients require 2-3 treatments using radiofrequency ablation. It is important to understand usually not all veins will be treated in one procedure. Proper closure and thorough treatment will often require more than one procedure.
Is the closure procedure painful?
A local anesthetic is used to numb the treatment area. This is done by injections, thus limiting the amount of discomfort and pain.
How quickly after treatment can I return to normal activities?
Patients can resume normal activities immediately. Following the treatment, a regular walking regimen is highly recommended. We suggest that you refrain from heavy lifting or prolonged periods of standing for one to two weeks after any procedure.
How soon after treatment will my symptoms improve?
Most patients report a noticeable improvement in their symptoms within 1-2 weeks following the procedure. However, some patients continue to see improvement for several weeks.
Is there any scarring, bruising, or swelling after the procedure?
You can expect virtually no scarring and just minimal amounts of bruising or swelling following the procedure.
Are there any potential risks or complications associated with the closure procedure?
Although complications of this procedure are rare, as with any medical intervention, potential risks do exist with the closure procedure. Potential complications can include: vessel perforation, thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, phlebitis, hematoma, and infection. Your medical history will be reviewed by members of the vein team to determine if there are any additional risks.
Can patients on blood thinners safely have the radiofrequency ablation/closure procedure?
Yes, patients can safely have this procedure done on blood thinners. If you are on a blood thinner you do not have to stop your medication for your procedure. Continue taking as prescribed. However, understand patients on blood thinners can expect slightly more bruising than individuals not on blood thinners.
How effective is the closure procedure?
Data from a prospective multicenter study have shown 97.4% vein closure 1 year post-treatment.
What happens to the treated vein left behind in the vein?
The vein simply becomes fibrous tissue after treatment. Over time, the vein will gradually incorporate into surrounding tissue.
Is the closure treatment covered by my insurance?
Many insurance companies are paying for the closure procedure in part or in full. Most insurance companies determine coverage for all treatments, including the closure procedure, based on medical necessity. The closure procedure has positive coverage policies with most major health insurers. You will discuss your insurance coverage further with members of the vein team.
What are patients saying about the closure procedure?
98% of patients who have undergone the closure procedure are willing to recommend it to a friend or family member with similar leg vein problems.