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Treat Varicose Veins with Foam Injections, Says New Study


If you are plagued by unsightly and perhaps serious varicose veins, foam injections may be the effective and inexpensive relief you are looking for, according to a new study. Researchers at Imperial College London report that foam injections are less painful, less costly, and require less recovery time than laser treatment.

Varicose veins can be a significant health problem

More than 80 million Americans suffer from varicose veins or spider veins, according to the American College of Phlebology. Veins have one-way valves which, when they malfunction, do not allow blood to flow efficiently. When veins in the legs experience this problem, they become congested with blood and enlarged. These enlarged veins are called spider veins (small veins on the surface of the skin) or varicose veins (larger distended veins located deeper than spider veins).

A popular way to treat varicose veins is endovenous laser ablation, which involves threading a laser wire through a catheter so it can deliver energy to seal the vein closed. Foam sclerotherapy involves injecting foam into the vein to seal it.

In the new study, 100 patients with varicose veins were randomly assigned to receive either laser or foam injection treatments. Both treatments were equally effective at closing the varicose veins, but foam injections were associated with a number of benefits not seen in the laser-treated patients.

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For example, patients who had foam injections experienced less pain during the week after the procedure and were able to return to normal activities in three days compared with eight days for individuals who had laser treatments. Foam injections also cost more than four times less than laser treatments and were performed twice as quickly as laser.

According to George Geroulakos, from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, “if more people are treated with foam injections instead of surgery or laser treatment, the potential savings could be enormous.”

Varicose veins can be associated with rashes, discolored skin, severe skin scarring, and develop into wounds. They can also increase the risk of phlebitis, blood clots, and pulmonary embolism, which are life-threatening conditions. Foam injection treatment is an effective and cost-saving option for individuals with varicose veins.

American College of Phlebology
Imperial College London

Image credit: Wikimedia commons