What's the Latest in Varicose Vein Treatments?
Varicose veins affect some 30-60% of people at some point in life, and while painful vein stripping with a protracted recovery used to be the only real option for dealing with these bulging veins, surgeons now have a range of techniques for varicose vein treatment.
New Treatments for Varicose Veins
Surgeon Eddie Chaloner, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Radiance Health, has long been a pioneer of new treatments for varicose veins. Dr. Chaloner was the first surgeon in the UK to use Clarivein, back in 2010, for example, and continues to investigate the latest in varicose vein treatments, noting in a recent article on Huffington Post that he and his colleagues “are now looking at the Sapheon system.”
The Sapheon Glue system and Clarivein both aim to close the leaking vein without relying on heat to cauterize the vein. Instead, as Dr. Chaloner went on to explain, “The Clarivein system uses a combination of a chemical drug and a mechanical rotator and the Sapheon system a type of ‘medical superglue’ to stick the vein walls together.”
Clarivein is becoming one of the better new treatments for varicose veins as it has shown an impressive ability to eliminate major varicose veins, and this procedure is virtually painless, quick to perform, and, according to Dr. Chaloner, poses “no risk of inadvertently damaging sensory nerves next to the vein, which can sometimes happen with other [heat-based] procedures.”
“Clarivein is a good option in selected patients with smaller veins,” says Dr. Chaloner, while laser treatment “is more predictable for larger veins.” As for Sapheon Glue, Dr. Chaloner is cautiously optimistic, saying, “once again, the initial results look very promising, but we won’t know for sure for some time yet!”
Other News in Varicose Vein Treatments
Scientists are not only working hard to develop new techniques for varicose vein treatments, they have also been enjoying some success in creating reliable models of varicose veins that can offer greater insight into the effects of experimental procedures.
The November 2015 issue of the Journal of Material Science: Materials in Medicine included a paper detailing a biomimetic vein model that can help assess the potential for sclerosing foam treatment for varicose veins.
In another study, researchers in the UK compared the cost-effectiveness of different treatment modalities for varicose veins, including surgery, endothermal ablation (ETA), ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy and compression stockings. The winner? ETA. Although all treatments were cost-effective compared to compression stockings, ETA was the cost-effective choice in most cases.
Researchers are also investigating the underlying causes of varicose veins, hoping to target the problem right at the root. In one study, clinicians noted that enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that break down proteins including collagen and elastin (which make up healthy veins and connective tissue) could be targets for preventative varicose veins treatment. MMPs also appear to have an effect on cells in the interior wall of veins, influencing how blood vessels contract and relax.
The scientists found that higher pressure in the veins in the lower legs may trigger MMPs and other factors that cause vein damage and dilation. When this continues unchecked, it could result in chronic venous insufficiency and the development of varicose veins. Drugs, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications that inhibit MMPs may be a new frontier in preventing and treating varicose veins.