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Varicose Vein Treatments Compared In New Study

Varicose vein treatments or bulging veins, seen above, have been compared in a new study in Germany, but not much difference has been found between the two procedures.

Varicose vein treatments or bulging veins, seen above, have been compared in a new study in Germany, but not much difference has been found between the two procedures.

A new study from Homburg, Germany has compared the results of laser therapy to treat varicose veins and the more standard vein surgery, to see if there is any difference in the number of patients who report new varicose veins two years after the treatment, and has concluded that there is very little difference suggested by the data.

Although varicose veins are very common, affecting anywhere from between 5 to 30 per cent of adults, they usually do not cause many problems. However in some cases, they can cause swelling and pain in a small percentage of adults, and in rare cases, even blood clots. The treatment for the less serious cases is to exercise, and lose weight, for those overweight, while compression stockings may help to ease the pain, and may also stop the veins from becoming more painful.

The serious cases often have the offending vein removed through surgery, known as high ligation or saphenous vein stripping, and although the costs vary, they usually start in the few hundreds of dollars.

An alternative to this is laser therapy, also called endovenous ablation, and this is a less invasive procedure where a small probe is inserted into the vein which causes it to collapse and disappear. Because of its less invasive nature, it has become quite popular, although it is a more expensive option.

Dr. Knuth Rass of the Saarland University Hospital in Homburg, Germany, and colleagues decided to research the effectiveness of the treatments, since few studies on this have been completed, so they split 400 patients between the two treatments. Two years after the patients had undergone one form of treatment or the other, only 316 out of the 400 could be reached, but of those who had the laser therapy, 16 per cent reported new varicose veins had developed. For those who had the surgery, the percentage was 23, but the researchers say that difference could just be due to chance.

The researchers who reported their findings in the Archives of Dermatology, said that those who had the laser treatment tended to be slightly more happy with the cosmetic look than those who had standard surgery, but there were some other differences. It took patients a day and a half longer to recover from the regular surgery, than those who had laser therapy.

However,  the laser group had a higher risk of experiencing a backflow of blood where the saphenous vein meets the femoral vein. Using an ultrasound scanner, it was possible to see those patients affected, and researchers discovered that 18 per cent of those having the laser treatment had this problem, compared to only one per cent in the other group.More research needs to be carried out to find out whether or not this leads to bulging varicose veins at some future date.

More laser patients reported that they experienced swelling which was caused by blood clots than the group that had regular surgery, and the laser group also reported skin color changes, as well as more pain after the procedure.

The researchers concluded that there was very little difference between the two procedures, and noted that 98 per cent of patients said that they would repeat their procedure in the future if they needed medical treatment on their varicose veins.

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Darina has played sports at a semi-professional level, and is a personal trainer with extensive experience in the sports, nutrition and general health areas.

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