Patient complaints about varicose veins often go beyond cosmetic issues. These abnormal blood vessels sometimes cause pain, interrupt normal daily routines, and lead to medical complications. One procedure used to treat them at a vein center is an ambulatory phlebectomy.
What is an Ambulatory Phlebectomy?
This procedure has several names. Some physicians refer to it simply as a phlebectomy. Other terms include micropuncture, stab phlebectomy, mini-phlebectomy, and microphlebectomy.
Unlike procedures that destroy varicose veins in place, an ambulatory phlebectomy actually removes targeted vessels from the patient.
An ambulatory phlebectomy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. The Mayo Clinic indicates that surgeons most often use it to treat small varicose veins that lie just beneath the skin. They remove abnormal vessels through a set of tiny skin punctures.
Scarring, if any, is typically minimal. According to VCU Health™, some patients might require several treatment sessions, each of which lasts up to two hours.
What Happens at the Vein Center?
Most patients arrive wearing loose clothing, then change into a surgical gown at the center. The Radiological Society of North America, Inc. notes that a physician uses a needle or a small scalpel to make the required incisions and a phlebectomy hook that resembles a crochet hook to remove abnormal veins.
Patients are usually awake during an ambulatory phlebectomy. After the staff has cleaned and numbed the affected areas, the surgeon creates tiny incisions next to each vessel to be treated. The physician then inserts the phlebectomy hook through an incision and pulls out the vein.
Because the incisions are so small, they do not require stitches to close them. Only rarely does a patient complain of pain.
After the procedure, a compression wrap encircles the affected leg. Patients need to wear compression stockings for a period specified by the surgeon, typically several weeks.
Most individuals return to their regular daily schedules, minus any unusual activity, the day after an ambulatory phlebectomy. On average, doctors prohibit strenuous activities for about two weeks.
Physicians indicate that this procedure carries a success rate exceeding 90 percent. For patients approved as good candidates, medical professionals rate long-term results as excellent.
An ambulatory phlebectomy is one of several treatments for varicose veins and is sometimes used in conjunction with other therapies. Physicians now reserve vein stripping, once the standard treatment, for severe cases.
Endovenous laser treatments performed under local anesthesia usually take less than an hour. Sclerotherapy, the most common treatment for spider veins, is sometimes also the choice for destroying small varicose veins. Before recommending the most appropriate procedure, physicians often use a duplex ultrasound exam to visualize veins.
Vein doctors are now able to offer varicose vein patients more alternatives than ever before. However, since no procedure can prevent the development of new vessels, periodic sessions might be necessary.