Study of the Day: The Procedure That Best Treats Varicose Veins

Research out of London is the first to compare the success rates of two common non-surgical vein treatments -- laser and foam therapy

main flickr fabbio 895318507_ce39953833_o.jpg

PROBLEM: About half of people 50 years and older are affected by varicose veins. Last week, research from the journal Archives of Dermatology showed that non-invasive endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) fixes problem veins just as well as surgery. But how does EVLT compare with another non-surgical FDA-approved procedure involving foam injections?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers compared the cost and effectiveness of laser and foam treatments with the help of 100 patients who were randomly assigned to either procedure. During the course of the trial, medical costs, treatment durations, recovery times, and average seven-day post-procedural pain scores were monitored.

RESULTS: The two treatments were successful at closing off varicose veins. Foam therapy, however, was more than twice as fast and four times cheaper than laser treatment on average. Participants who underwent foam therapy tended to experience less pain in the week following treatment and to return to normal activity in three days. Those who had laser therapy took an average of eight days to recover.

CONCLUSION: Though both non-invasive therapies are equally effective in treating varicose veins, foam injections are cheaper, less painful, and easier to recover from than laser treatments.

SOURCE: The full study, "Cost and Effectiveness of Laser with Phlebectomies Versus Foam Sclerotherapy in Superficial Venous Insufficiency. Early Results of a Randomised Controlled Trial," was presented over the weekend in the annual meeting of the European Society for Vascular Surgery.

Image: Fabbio/Flickr.

Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In