Varicose veins affect a large portion of the adult population. Many traditional vein treatments can be very invasive, however, with time, the treatments available for these problematic veins have continued to improve. At North Texas Vein & Vascular in Flower Mound, TX, we’re pleased to offer a wide range of treatments. Today we’re going to talk about ambulatory phlebectomy and how it differs from vein stripping.
Is Ambulatory Phlebectomy the Same As Vein Stripping?
These two treatments are similar in that they both involve removing critically swollen veins to improve blood flow. However, there are some key differences when it comes to the approach of each treatment. Ambulatory phlebectomy is a “new and improved” approach to vein removal. It tends to be easier on the patient than vein stripping.
Understanding Vein Stripping
Traditional vein stripping is a more involved process than ambulatory phlebectomy. The surgeon may remove the main vein of the leg during this treatment. Since this vein runs all the way from the groin to the foot, that is a fairly significant removal.
Today, we know that in many cases this vein doesn’t have to be completely removed. Depending on the patient’s needs, it’s possible to close off this vein or remove just a section of it, rather than removing it entirely.
Comfort and Quality
Vein stripping is still a valid treatment option, but many consider it to be outdated at this point. It requires larger incisions and a recovery time of two to four weeks. The recovery time for vein stripping may change depending on how many veins are treated. This treatment can address issues like tenderness in the legs, aching, throbbing, or that “heavy” sensation varicose veins are known for. It can also help prevent blood clots, vein bleeding, ulcers, and sores.
That said, ambulatory phlebectomy can treat those same symptoms while being less invasive. This approach involves tiny incisions, which are placed in key areas to carry out gentle and effective vein treatment. We will be able to section off the varicose vein using these incisions, rather than having to put your body through a large vein removal. This treatment is usually able to use local anesthesia, while vein stripping is commonly done with general anesthesia.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Happens During My Appointment?
Before we proceed with the phlebectomy, we’ll want to meet you for a consultation. This will give you the opportunity to share any questions you have and will give us the chance to understand your needs and discuss your options. If you decide a phlebectomy is the right option for you, we’ll set up your appointment.
During your treatment, we will mark your vein and give you tumescent local anesthesia. Then we will make tiny incisions, only about 2mm wide. Small hooks will be used to gently expose sections of the varicose vein so we can treat them. After your treatment, blood flow will re-route into healthy veins, and your varicose vein will disappear.
2. How Long Does It Take?
This treatment isn’t just easier on your body, it tends to be easier on your schedule as well. Most phlebectomies can be completed in less than an hour. You can enjoy lasting results without even having to sacrifice an entire day.
3. Am I at Risk for Getting Varicose Veins?
Anyone can get varicose veins, but some people are more at risk than others. To understand your risk levels, it’s important to understand how veins work. In short, veins are what bring blood to and from your heart. They deliver vital oxygen across your entire body.
There are valves in veins that stop blood from flowing in the wrong direction. When these valves are compromised, blood can backtrack and start to pool in a vein, which swells and distorts the vein’s appearance. Being pregnant, having a stationary job, struggling with obesity, or being senior can all increase your risk level. Those with a family history of varicose veins may also be more at risk.
4. Why Choose This Treatment?
Choosing the right treatment requires having a good understanding of the severity of your varicose vein. A consultation will help give us that information so we can further help you. That said, this treatment is extremely effective, minimally invasive, and an excellent option for varicose veins that require surgery.
5. Can This Treat Spider Veins Too?
It’s not common to use phlebectomy for spider veins. If you have spider veins and varicose veins, we would be happy to look at the best way to handle all of your needs. In general, a phlebectomy is a great call for varicose veins of various sizes, whether they’re symptomatic or not.
The Difference Between Spider and Varicose Veins
Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins. Their web-like appearance is what gave them their name. They tend to be right at the surface of the skin, but can’t be felt through the skin. They can cover small and large areas.
Varicose veins, on the other hand, can be felt through the skin if they’re close enough to the surface. They are larger, and often bulge due to blood pooling in certain areas of the vein. They also are more likely to cause painful symptoms and negative side effects.
What Are the Benefits of Removing Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can be painful. How painful they are will vary for different patients, but some patients find that it’s bad enough to make them uncomfortable almost constantly. To make sure you have a good understanding of what veins are causing your symptoms, you may want to consider an ultrasound. While many varicose veins are obvious, others may be hidden deeper in the leg.
In addition to the physical discomfort they cause, varicose veins can be upsetting to patients due to their appearance. Patients may find themselves wearing clothes that hide the vein, and feeling self-conscious when it’s exposed. Treating the vein can help liberate patients so they can enjoy wearing their favorite clothes and feel more confident in their skin.
Improving your comfort levels may help you stay active. When varicose veins swell, they can interfere with a patient’s normal range of motion. The sore feeling that accompanies these veins may also discourage patients from exercising as much as they normally would. When your legs are feeling their best, it can be easier to enjoy exercise again.
Some patients find their symptoms are even worse at night, so trying to get a full night’s sleep can be challenging. Afflicted legs can become restless or can throb or itch throughout the night. This can leave a patient lacking the rest they need. Treating the root of the problem can help you get a better, deeper night’s sleep.
Improving the appearance of their legs is a big motivator for a lot of people, but there are health reasons to consider treating your varicose veins too. When varicose veins go untreated, they can continue to develop. That means they could get larger or more painful as time goes on. They can also contribute to the following health issues.
You may not expect a vein issue to cause skin issues, but the pooling blood in a varicose vein can put pressure on your skin. This can lead to a leg wound known as a varicose ulcer or venous stasis ulcer.
In the early stages, you may notice redness around the vein, which can then progress until it becomes an open sore. These sores can be difficult to manage without treating the cause behind them. If left untreated, the sores can continue to spread.
Many varicose veins protrude from the skin, which makes them easy to “snag” on something in passing. This can cause the skin to rupture, especially if it’s already compromised by the pressure of the veins. Dealing with sudden, unexpected bleeding is not a pleasant experience, especially if you’re out and about. Treating the veins can help avoid this scenario.
These superficial blood clots form close to the skin. They can make an already-sore varicose vein even more swollen and painful. If you have a varicose vein that has grown more red and tender recently, you may want to look into whether you have a blood clot.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
A deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a potentially serious blood clot that can develop in a varicose vein. They tend to be deeper in the body. Since varicose veins tend to be large, a clot that forms and travels to the lungs can be very dangerous. This can be a significant motivator to remove varicose veins.
You Have Options
During a consultation, we’ll be able to talk about your goals and evaluate your needs. We can then discuss your treatment options, and use our experience to let you know whether an ambulatory phlebectomy could be the right choice for you. Contact us at North Texas Vein & Vascular in Flower Mound, TX, today to set up your consultation and get your questions answered.