Patients turn to Superglue to fix varicose veins

Patients needing treatment for varicose veins can now opt for a procedure at BMI Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow that uses an innovative glue to close off the vein, making the procedure less invasive and significantly reducing recovery times. 

The procedure takes just half an hour and one injection of local anaesthetic, making it a world away from the traditional method of ‘stripping’, in which the vein is pulled out of the body via an incision.  

Stripping is done under a general anaesthetic and it can take up to two weeks to recover from the procedure. The VenaSeal procedure using a medical ‘superglue’ usually requires just one injection and patients don’t need to stay overnight in hospital, nor wear compression stockings after the procedure.  The technique uses a fine catheter tube to insert a tiny amount of glue to the vein to seal it shut and patients can usually return to normal activities immediately. 

Stephen Kettlewell, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at BMI Ross Hall Hospital, says: “Varicose veins are quite a common problem affecting around 20 per cent of adults in the UK. 

“They are caused by faulty valves which causes blood to flow in the wrong direction.  They often cause pain and aching in the leg, and can lead to more serious conditions such as phlebitis (inflammation), varicose eczema and ulceration. 

“The traditional method of treating varicose veins is by surgically “stripping” them from the leg.  However, in recent years less invasive treatments such as laser and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) have been introduced which use heat to seal the veins and thereby prevent the reverse flow of blood.  These techniques are effective and much less invasive than surgery but require a few injections of local anaesthetic, and patients are required to wear compression stockings for a week or so afterwards,” said Mr Kettlewell.

“VenaSeal is a new technology that uses a specially formulated medical adhesive which is injected into varicose veins and causes them to seal instantly.  It requires a single injection of local anaesthetic and no stockings are required.  Patients can literally have the injection and walk away with a small dressing to the leg and return to normal activities.  

“The procedure is done with the patient lying down.  Ultrasound is used to map out the vein and a single dose of local anaesthetic is given.  The VenaSeal catheter is then inserted into the vein and the glue injected.  It takes about 15 minutes to do the procedure and a small dressing is placed at the injection site. 

“Initial research shows that VenaSeal is both safe and effective at treating varicose veins and compares very well to other minimally invasive treatments but, it has the advantage of not requiring any heat to destroy the vein, it usually needs only a single injection and patients don’t need to wear a compression stocking.”

Elizabeth Sanderson, aged 72, from Helensburgh near Glasgow, had the VenaSeal procedure carried out on her right leg, at BMI Ross Hall Hospital earlier this year.Liz Sanderson

“I worked as physiotherapist before retiring and was on my feet all day long, every day. I’ve suffered from varicose veins in both my legs over the years,” she says. “I’ve had some significant problems with them, such as heavy, aching pains - even in bed at night - and I’ve worn support hosiery for the last 20 years to cover them up, and reduce swelling. My varicose veins made living life to the full more difficult and painful.

“After having the Venaseal treatment, I walked straight out the hospital feeling amazing – I was Scottish country dancing just a couple of days later,” she says, smiling. “I love being active, so to be able to get back to things I enjoy so quickly, is great. I no longer use support tights.

“The difference between the Venaseal technique and previous procedures is incredible. I have had both the ‘stripping’ treatment and the RFA in the past, but I can say that the VenaSeal is much, much better. No general anaesthetic, no compression stockings, less injections, one little dressing for a tiny wound and up and about immediately. I’m really delighted!”

Mr Kettlewell added, “Mrs Sanderson was the first patient in Scotland to receive the VenaSeal procedure at Glasgow Vein Clinic at BMI Ross Hall Hospital.  I was very impressed with the simplicity of VenaSeal compared with laser and RFA and to see it working instantly.”

Categories: Health

Date: 7th August 2017