Varicose veins are dark blue or purplish bulging, twisted veins which appear mostly on the legs, although they may also be seen on the arms or neck. They occur as a result of faulty valves in the veins which fail to prevent backflow of blood (especially those in the lower body) resulting in blood pooling and collecting in the veins. The veins start to swell and become more easily seen and bulge out. Smoking, obesity, pregnancy and occupations which involve prolonged sitting or standing are all risk factors for development of varicose veins. Varicose veins are not only a cosmetic concern, as they can also rupture and bleed or cause recurrent skin infections and wounds if left untreated.
In this procedure, the vein which contains the faulty valve is removed so the blood flow is redirected to other healthy, working veins. An instrument is inserted through a small incision in the leg and threaded up to the vein, where it is cut and pulled out (stripped). The end of the cut vein is then tied off (ligated). Because stripping and ligation is more invasive (involves pulling out parts of the veins from the body), it causes more bleeding and pain resulting in delayed post-operative recovery.
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure with a high success rate, and leaves little to no surgical scars. A catheter (thin, hollow tube) is inserted through a small incision (cut) in the leg and fed upwards along the affected vein. When the device is activated, the heating element at the tip of the catheter will transmit heat energy to the targeted veins, and close them off. Blood will be unable to pool in the diseased vein and will instead flow back to the heart via the remaining normal veins.
CLaCS (Cryo-Laser and Cryo-Sclerotherapy) is a recently available procedure which is quick, minimally invasive and efficient. It is also not painful and anyone who chooses to undergo it should be able to resume their usual lifestyle or work schedule within a day (at most). CLaCS Singapore involves, firstly, blowing cool air (-20℃) onto the skin to cool it, so that the patient does not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. Next, a scanner is used to project the infra-ray scan of the network of veins below the skin onto the skin surface, enabling the surgeon to locate the affected vein more precisely. The surgeon then uses a transdermal laser to ablate the vein. This laser will only damage the vein and not the skin, so you do not have to worry about leaving visible scars. After the vein has been treated with the laser, a medicine called a sclerosant will be injected into it to seal it off completely. The laser and sclerosant together ensures that the treated varicose vein never enlarges or transports blood again.
CLaCS is more effective when targeting varicose veins that are very shallow just beneath the skin surface. The patient is able to return home shortly after the procedure and resume their usual lifestyle, including exercise and eating habits the next day after the treatment. The results of the surgery should begin to be noticeable 2-3 weeks after the treatment.
As of now, Vascular and Interventional Centre (VIC) is the only clinic in Singapore which offers CLaCS for varicose veins or spider veins. If you are interested or would like more information about it, feel free to contact us or book an appointment with one of our specialists today!
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