A venous surgeon may collapse a vein as a treatment for varicose veins and spider veins. In this blog post we explore what causes these types of venous disease and how a doctor may collapse the vein as a method of treatment.
Causes of Venous Disease and the Difference between Arteries
Veins and arteries make up the portion of the circulatory system that transport blood throughout the body. Arteries push blood to the body to supply oxygen and are under a high pressure system, while veins move the blood back toward the heart once the oxygen has been delivered and are in a low pressure system. This leads to a difference in the structure of arteries and veins. Veins are loose structures and are easily compressed. They also lack any muscle in their walls and instead use a series of valves and the contraction of the body muscles to move the blood towards the heart. If these valves fail to work properly, blood backs up, stretching the vein wall, leading to spider veins, varicose veins, or both.
About Spider Veins & Varicose Veins
Spider veins are veins that are stretched in the skin and are unappealing red, spidery veins that are seen on the skin surface. They do not cause pain or any danger for worsening vascular disease. Varicose veins, on the other hand, are caused by the same problem as spider veins, but in larger veins that are deep to the body. They appear as gnarled, enlarged veins on the skin, but also cause symptoms of pain and swelling. Unlike spider veins, varicose veins can lead to worsening vascular disease if left untreated and can have complications, such as deep venous thrombosis.
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Treatments that Collapse the Vein for Spider Veins & Varicose Veins
As treatment is more widely available, many people are opting to treat both spider and varicose veins. The most common treatments are:
- Endovascular laser therapy (EVLT) uses a special laser device that is inserted into the malfunctioning veins and as it is slowly pulled through and removed from the vein it uses light that emits heat to treat the vein. Learn more about laser treatment for varicose veins.
- Sclerotherapy uses a sclerosant, which is a chemical, that is inserted directly into the malfunctioning veins. The sclerosant is either a liquid, or it is mixed with a small amount of air to form a foam, which coats the inside of larger veins better. Learn more about sclerotherapy.
“Both treatments end with the same outcome, which is collapse of the malfunctioning vein. ” – Dr. Edward Mackay
Both treatments end with the same outcome, which is collapse of the malfunctioning vein. This occurs as the inside of the vein is destroyed by either the heat or the sclerosant. The use of either treatment causes a series of reactions in the vein, causing swelling, and eventual scarring.
Once the vein has completely scarred, blood is unable to flow and the body eliminates the vein. In order for the vein to fully collapse, several treatments of EVLT or sclerotherapy are usually necessary.
Blood will continue to flow through other neighboring veins and the body forms new veins through a process called angiogenesis. This may lead to other veins malfunctioning in the future, which can be treated by collapsing the veins through sclerotherapy or EVLT.