For some patients, varicose veins are more than unsightly blood vessels on their legs or feet. They can cause significant discomfort and lead to rare but serious complications like painful ulcers. Fortunately, a vein doctor can offer a number of treatment options. One procedure that vein doctors, also known as vascular surgeons, sometimes advise is an ambulatory phlebectomy.
Varicose vessels form because of faulty valves in veins, which return blood from the lower extremities to the heart. When a valve stops functioning due to age or damage, blood cannot flood upward and pools behind it. The result is a varicose vein.
The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center indicates that an ambulatory phlebectomy is a minimally invasive procedure performed at a vein clinic to treat varicose vessels that lie just under the skin. Using a small tool called a phlebectomy hook, the surgeon makes one or more tiny incisions and extracts the targeted veins. According to UCLA Health, because veins collapse easily, it is possible to remove even large vessels through these small incisions.
Complications with this treatment are very rare. They might include blistering, infection, bruising, loss of sensation, or visible scars. However, most of these resolve without any problems over the long term.
What to Expect at the Vein Treatment Center
Vascular surgeons perform this procedure when the patient has been anesthetized. While some physicians prefer a general anesthetic, others routinely rely on local anesthesia.
When an extended network of varicose vessels has developed in a limb, patients typically need to appear two or three times for treatment by vein doctors. A treatment session usually takes no more than two hours and sometimes much less. Individuals report little discomfort after the procedure.
A few days after treatment, bandages come off the affected areas. Patients wear compression stockings for several weeks until healing is complete and are able to resume most normal activities right away.
Incisions used in this treatment are so small that they usually require no stitches to heal and leave very faint puncture marks. VCU indicates that the incisions are practically invisible two months after surgery. After six months, there is usually no sign of the procedure.
When forming expectations about an ambulatory phlebotomy, patients should realize that removing all targeted varicose veins does not guarantee that no more will appear. Most individuals require annual follow-up venous circulation checks to make sure no additional treatment is necessary.
When conservative measures such as losing weight or elevating the legs do not bring relief, vascular surgeons can offer options in addition to ambulatory phlebectomies. Other types of treatment for varicose veins include sclerotherapy, laser surgery, procedures that are catheter-assisted, endoscopic surgery, and vein stripping, according to the Mayo Clinic.