These are two of the most common treatments available at most vein clinics across the country. While they both work towards the same end of relieving venous conditions, there are distinct differences that patients should be aware of.
Foam sclerotherapy is used to treat spider veins and small varicose veins. They may not be effective against medium or large varicose veins. Endovenous laser ablation is used to treat large varicose veins. This treatment may not be used to treat spider veins, small varicose veins or veins in the lower legs. Patients are encouraged to discuss their condition with a vein specialist to determine if they have spider veins or varicose veins, and which, if either, of these conditions is right for them.
Another difference between the two treatments is how they are administered. Sclerotherapy is performed by injecting a chemical sclerant into problem veins. The sclerant irritates the vein wall, causing the vein to shrink, collapse and eventually fade away entirely. In foam sclerotherapy, the sclerant has a consistency similar to shaving cream, while other sclerotherapy procedures utilize a liquid sclerant. The foam formulation provides greater contact with the vein wall and displaces blood much more effectively than the liquid formulation. It is also easier to view through ultrasound technology.
Endovenous laser ablation is performed by inserting a laser fiber into the problem vein. The fiber is slowly heated using low energy, which causes the vein to heat and collapse. Both procedures require a topical anesthetic to ensure patient comfort throughout treatment. These are minimally-invasive treatments that leave no scarring.
While the general idea behind both treatments is to collapse problem veins, the way the procedures are performed differs. Interested patients are encouraged to discuss each procedure with a trained professional for more detailed descriptions of how each treatment is performed.
The recovery from each procedure is fairly similar. Neither procedure requires patients to miss work, with many able to return to work or resume other normal daily activities after the procedure. Compression stockings may be used following each procedure to aid in recovery and to promote healthy blood flow. Patients will be given specific recovery instructions from their doctor, and are encouraged to follow their directions to ensure a safe recovery. A follow up procedure may be scheduled in many cases to check the progress of treatment.
Both treatments are also similar in that one session is all that is needed to reach optimal results in most cases. Foam sclerotherapy may require multiple sessions, although most individuals are satisfied with their results after just one treatment.
In the end, the ultimate goal of both foam sclerotherapy and endovenous laser ablation is to eliminate problem veins. The most important difference between the two treatments is the conditions that they treat. All patients suffering from spider veins or varicose veins should be advised by a vein specialist as to which treatment is right for them. This will ensure the best results so that patients may find relief from these vein diseases.