History of Varicose Vein Treatment

Varicose veins affect men and women of all ages, however they occur more frequently as we age. Varicose veins are actually areas where the vein dilates due to a venous valve that does not function as it should. In the standing position, thus blood flows back down the vein instead of toward the heart. Over time the areas that contain the valves dilate and the visible ‘bumps’ that you see gradually get larger.

Varicose veins can cause symptoms such as swelling, heaviness, and aching in the leg. Overtime if not treated more symptoms can occur such as changes in the skin color or even in some people an ulcer.

The treatment has always been compression stockings in the past. Although this may temporarily help with symptoms, compression stockings do not stop progression of venous disease!

About 100 years ago, high ligation of the saphenous vein and stripping of the saphenous vein was introduced as a surgical treatment for varicose veins. Since most varicose veins come from a branch of the saphenous vein, this procedure was thought to treat the cause of varicosities. Over time, it was realized that most people would form new veins, in many instances as a direct result of surgery.

Sclerotherapy was introduced about seventy-five years ago. As experience with this technique of injecting solution to scar the vein increased, the results improved. However, there were many problems when this technique was used alone such as prolonged need for compression, and high recurrence rates.

In the early part of 2000, new treatments were introduced such as thermal ablation (Laser, Radio Frequency) of the Greater Saphenous Vein, foam sclerotherapy, tumescent anesthesia, and micro-phlebectomy. The development of these new procedures allowed vein treatment to safely be done in the office setting. Also, the results of using these techniques improved the success of treating varicose veins.

In the last few years, new procedures have been developed for treating varicose veins and more will probably come in the future. However, there is no cure for venous disease. The goal is to safely and effectively treat the venous problem and its symptoms that you present with. The good news is that in most cases, even if you develop new veins, they will be much less and cause fewer problems.


Dr. Ronald Bush MD FACS

Medical Director Vein Experts

Dr. Ronald Bush is the Medical Director for Vein Experts