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Dotter Interventional Institute


Varicose Vein Treatments

The Interventional Vein Specialists at OHSU's Dotter Institute offer state-of-the-art treatment for spider veins, varicose veins and other venous problems. Our vein specialists provide collaborative consultations to evaluate the best treatment options for our patients. Our services include sclerotherapy, endovenous ablation, and phlebectomy. We work closely with patients throughout the process of consultation, implementing a well thought out treatment plan and providing long term follow-up care to ensure that patients are satisfied and their goals are met.

Varicose veins are most commonly found in the legs and can vary in in appearance from small "spiders" to large, bulging, and ropy veins. They are usually caused from leaking valves inside the veins that allow blood to flow backwards and stagnate. Genetics, age, standing and the effects of gravity all contribute to the formation of varicose veins. For many people, small varicose and spider veins are simply a cosmetic conern. For other people, varicose veins cause tired and achy legs, swelling, and discomfort, and in severe cases ulceration of the skin. Varicose veins are usually progressive and cannot be prevented entirely; however, simple self-care measures such as wearing graded-compression support stockings, maintaining normal weight, and regular exercise can help. Current treatment options for varicose and spider veins include sclerotherapy, venous ablation and phlebectomy depending on the cause, size and severity of the affected veins.

Sclerotherapy is a procedure used to treat spider veins and smaller varicose veins by injecting a solution with a tiny needle directly into the vein.  The solution irritates the lining of the vessel and eventually causes the vessel to shut down and disappear.  We use a variety of sclerosing solutions and mixing techniques (foaming) in order to optimize treatment outcomes specific to the size and type of vein.

Endovenous ablation is an outpatient, non-surgical, safe and effective alternative treatment to traditional “vein stripping,” It is done to treat larger veins in the leg, such as the greater saphenous vein. The valves inside the veins start to leak and allow blood to flow backwards and stagnate. This condition is called venous reflux.  Blood simply pools in the legs and can cause varicose veins, tired and achy legs and in severe cases ulceration of the skin. To treat this condition, a tiny nick in the skin is made, where a small catheter is inserted into the incompetent vein, which then delivers localized heat to the vein wall.  The vein wall then becomes damaged, closes down and becomes permanently blocked.

Phlebectomy is an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia, where tiny incisions approximately the size of a grain of rice (4 to 5 mm), are made to remove the large and ropy surface varicose veins.  Stitches are not usually needed, scarring is negligible, and discomfort is minimal. These veins are often the cause of tired, achy, swollen legs and can get progressively worse if not treated.

Interested in a free consultation, or have a leg vein question? Call our nurse, Pam at (503) 568-4571 or visit our Ask Pam webpage at http://www.ohsuhealth.com/askpam/ or Email: veinspecialists@ohsu.edu.