Varicose veins can be embarrassing, cause pain, and in some cases, be harmful to one’s health.
Varicose veins are twisted, clotted and enlarged veins that usually form in the legs. “In normal veins, valves in the vein keep blood moving forward toward the heart. With varicose veins, the valves do not function properly, allowing blood to remain in the vein. Pooling of blood in a vein causes it to enlarge,” according to PubMed Health.
Estimates vary. Anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of all adults suffer from varicose veins -- women are five times more likely to develop them than men.
Standard treatments include removing the vein either with surgery or a laser procedure, which can prevent complications and improve quality of life. But researchers recently found there are differences to be weighed when deciding whether to go the surgical or non-surgical route.
Researchers from Saarland University Hospital in Homburg, Germany report that, “although laser treatment and surgery are both effective in treating varicose veins, it appears that recurrence of one form of the problem is more common with the laser treatment.”
The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Knuth Rass, from Saarland University Hospital says, “Both procedures can be equally offered to the patients with great saphenous vein insufficiency.” However, he adds that patients should be informed and there might be a risk for a higher rate of clinical recurrences beyond two years after the laser treatment.
Rass and colleagues randomly assigned 346 patients to undergo either a surgical procedure called high ligation and stripping or a laser treatment called endovenous laser treatment for their study published in the Sept. 19 online edition of the Archives of Dermatology.
The surgical procedure involves tying off the vein, which runs between the hip and the foot, through a small incision at the hip. In the laser procedure, a catheter is inserted into the vein and the laser's burst of light causes the vein to disappear, according to a release on the study.