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I am 34 years old and want to proceed with VNUS and phlebectomy as a treatment for saphenous vein reflux. I have unsightly red, blue, and brown spots and enlarged veins on my feet. Are there any long-term effects of saphenous vein removal to consider?
There are no long-term side effects to my knowledge. All of the superficial veins combined only account for 10 percent of venous return. Treating the reflux should actually improve the efficiency of venous return.
There are minimal risks in removal of a defective saphenous vein which is causing varicose veins. Since the saphenous vein is broken and dysfunctional, it is being counter-productive and harmful to your circulation (it is carrying blood backwards). By removing the defective vein, it should actually improve your circulation.
When the Great Saphenous Vein has incompetent valves, it generally can only cause health issues without any benefit. The potential effect from removal (i.e. Stripping) is neovascularization, or new vein growth. This side effect is quite high with "vein stripping". Newer treatments with radiofrequency have significantly lower rates of neovascularization, and hence, should be considered first line therapy for chronic venous reflux.
I'm sure your local vein physician would be glad to discuss this with you.
There are few, if any, long-term side effects of saphenous vein removal.
Answered by Dr. Stuart A. Harlin
In our office, we have not experienced any long terms effects from VNUS
closure. If you are already having skin changes (brown spots), that could
be related to venous reflux.
The only long term side effect is that loss of the saphenous vein means that it could not be used in the future for potential bypass surgery. However, there are many other options for bypass should this become necessary. Other long term effects could be related to nerve injury and scarring from the surgery, but there are rare occurrences.
These veins are non-functional so removing them is usually beneficial. Occasionally, this vein can add increased demand on other veins and there is the possibility of it becoming somewhat more prominent.
The greatest possible long term drawback or consideration would be if you needed this vein later in life for some kind of bypass surgery. This is the vein that has typically been used for leg bypass that goes below the knee and is often used in heart surgery. Other, better options, such as arm arteries are used more frequently today. Also, by the time you would be in the age group for bypass surgery, your veins would probably be too distended to be useful.