Varicose veins become more common as we age and can negatively impact a person’s quality of life, potentially with severe complications if they aren’t treated quickly. Statistics show that up to 40 per cent of people aged 50 and above in HCMC are affected. The Vascular Surgery Department at FV Hospital has provided successful surgical treatments to many patients suffered from serious varicose veins in their lower legs.
American patient Mr. R.C.W., 49, visited FV with shortness of breath, swelling in the legs and many varicose veins and was unable to stand for a long periods. His speedy weight gain from 100 kg to 138 kg in only two years also worsened his condition as his legs struggled to take his heavy weight. He was unable to continue his English teaching job as it required him to be on his feet for long periods.
Dr Luong Ngoc Trung from FVH’s Vascular Surgery Department treated Mr R by combining endovenous laser treatment and the Muller surgical procedure to remove his enlarged veins. Two hours after the procedure, Mr. R.C.W. could stand and walk normally. His condition significantly improved within three days of his surgery.
Dr Trung explained that endovenous laser treatment uses laser energy to destroy the varicose veins (a thin fiber is inserted into the damaged vein) resulting in 95 per cent or greater improvement of symptoms. This advanced treatment was introduced to the world 10 years ago and has benefited hundred thousands of patients in developed countries such as France and the USA.
Endovenous laser treatment is usually prescribed to treat saphenous veins (superficial veins) and their branches. Because it uses laser energy to destroy veins from inside, this technique helps to reduce the risks associated with more conventional procedures which often involve the removal of enlarged veins.
Dr Trung said: “During the procedure, a laser beam is emitted to the vein wall through a very thin fibre at around 600 micron in size. Before undergoing the procedure, patients are given local or general anaesthesia so that they feel almost no pain during the procedure and can walk immediately afterwards. Local anesthesia combined with the injection of numbing medicine around saphenous veins also helps to reduce the effects of lasers on the surrounding tissues.”
Endovenous laser treatment leaves no scars and results in shorter recovery duration. Patients can return to their normal daily activities the next day.
Benefits of endovenous laser treatment may include the destruction of enlarged and dysfunctional saphenous veins, resulting in symptom improvement and the prevention of possible complications caused by chronic varicose veins in the lower legs. Most of the cases find the discomforting symptoms of varicose veins disappeared completely.
The Muller procedure, named for Dr Robert Muller, who invented this procedure in 1956, involves a making a 3 mm to 5 mm incision so that a specialised tool can be inserted to remove varicose veins.
According to Dr Trung, treatment by laser individually or in combination with the Muller procedure is recognised worldwide as the best treatment for varicose veins as it leaves no scars and results in no post-surgical pain and almost no chance of complications. Patients can walk almost immediately after their surgery and return to their normal daily activities the next day.
Around 100 patients affected by vein problems are now visiting and receiving treatments at FV Hospital each month.
Mild symptoms include weariness in the legs, itchy legs, and unsightly veins on the legs. As the condition worsens, patients can have achy or heavy feeling in the legs, cramps, leg swelling even while resting, changes in skin colour, unhealed skin ulcers or vein clots. “Many patients mistake this condition for a skin disease and only learn about varicose veins after consultation with a doctor,” says Dr Trung.
Varicose veins may be a result of genetics, jobs that require long periods of standing, sitting, limited physical activity, obesity and a diet poor in cellulose, among other factors.
If detected early, varicose veins can be treated by the wearing of compression stockings and medication. Surgery to remove varicose veins is required as the condition advances. Treatment can help patients by improving their quality of life and avoiding possible complications such as vein clots or unhealed skin ulcers.