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Spring is here! Get Rid of Ugly Varicose Veins, Show Legs off By Summer
Stony Brook Medicine Vein Centers use innovative treatments for patients’ problem veins

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STONY BROOK, NY, ARPIL 17, 2015 – Embarrassed to show off your legs this summer? Well you’re not alone. Varicose veins affect more than 30 million adults in the US between the ages of 18 to 70, with women twice as likely as men to develop the condition. These veins bulge and rise above the skin’s surface. They are often unattractive, uncomfortable and could cause further medical problems.

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“Varicose veins are abnormal blood vessels, usually in the legs, that become permanently dilated (widened) and twisted resulting in pooling of blood in the lower legs,” says Antonios P. Gasparis, MD, Director of The Stony Brook Vein Center at Stony Brook Medicine. “Varicose veins are enlarged, disfiguring, snakelike, bluish veins that are visible under the skin upon standing. They appear most often in the inside lower part of the leg.”

Symptoms of varicose veins are due to pooling of blood and may include discomfort and aching in the legs, especially after standing or prolonged sitting. Other symptoms include pain, itching and swelling. Late stages of the disease may lead to skin discoloration and open sores.

Though varicose veins are generally harmless, they may indicate underlying vascular disease that's potentially serious and that requires treatment. Specialists at The Stony Brook Vein Center at Stony Brook Medicine have innovative, non-surgical approaches to help rid patients of their problem veins.

  • Endovenous thermal ablation – These minimally invasive techniques have been available for over 15 years and have excellent results. Thermal ablation is an advanced method for treating the main superficial veins (the saphenous veins). It has replaced traditional vein stripping surgery for the vast majority of patients. A small catheter, which is a very thin, flexible tube, is placed in the vein under ultrasound guidance. After placement of local anesthesia around the vein, the catheter is slowly pulled back delivering heat to injure the vein wall. After treatment of the abnormal veins, healthy veins restore the normal blood flow and symptoms from the varicose veins improve.
  • Endovenous non-thermal ablation – These treatments have been recently developed and are even less invasive than endovenous thermal therapies. Non-thermal ablation treats the abnormal saphenous vein without using heat. No anesthesia or sedation is required. Patients can typically return to normal activities and work immediately following the treatment.  
  • Varithena – Varithena, a polidocanol injectable foam, is the first and only FDA-approved foam for the treatment of incompetent veins and visible varicosities of the great saphenous vein (GSV) system. It also improves the symptoms and the appearance of these troublesome veins.
  • Venaseal™ – A unique minimally invasive treatment that uses a safe medical “super glue” to seal the main superficial vein. The glue is slowly placed in the vein through a small catheter (tube) under ultrasound guidance. The body then absorbs the treated vein over time.

"Varithena and Venaseal therapies set a new standard for the treatment of both the symptoms and the appearance of varicose veins," says Dr. Gasparis. "They have the potential of becoming the new gold standard in the treatment of venous disease."

These new treatments are minimally invasive, non-surgical procedures that only require an ultrasound machine and standard medical supplies. These procedures require no anesthesia or sedation. They are even less invasive than current therapies which require thermal energy to injure the vein wall.

  • Mini-phlebectomy — Mini-phlebectomy is a technique in which varicose veins are removed using one to two millimeter incisions. This procedure is often performed with endovenous ablation of the saphenous vein. If the saphenous vein is normal (based on the ultrasound) with no reflux, then only mini-phlebectomy of the varicose veins is performed.
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Antonios P. Gasparis, MD

Mini-phlebectomy can take 20-40 minutes depending on the extent of varicose veins. After the procedure you will be wrapped for 2 days and wear a support stocking for two weeks. There will be some bruising, which is normal, and will completely resolve in four to six weeks. You may also experience some mild discomfort, tingling and/or tightness in the treated leg, which typically resolves in a few weeks.

After treatment of the diseased veins, healthy veins restore the normal flow of blood to the leg. As this happens, symptoms from the varicose veins improve.

  • Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy/ Sclerotherapy -- Sclerotherapy is a treatment for spider and small varicose veins. It is minimally invasive and done in the office. It involves micro-injections of a sclerosing solution into the veins. The solution causes the vein wall to swell, stick together and seal shut. The Stony Brook Vein Center uses FDA-approved sclerosing agents including Setrodecol and Polidoconol solutions.

The body naturally redirects blood flow to healthy veins. Several sessions may be required depending on the extent of the problem. In a few weeks, the treated veins fade.

Most patients can expect a 50 to 90 percent improvement after treatment. Sclerotherapy does not eliminate diseased veins after one single treatment. Typically patients will require multiple treatments (4-6) to obtain the best results. Your physician will review with you the estimated number of treatments that will be required. Each treatment typically takes about 20 minutes.

Some of the complications of sclerotherapy include allergic reaction, failure of treatment, skin discoloration and formation of new spider veins.

 

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