What is VenaSeal™?
VenaSeal™ is a vein “superglue.” Chemically called cyanoacrylate, VenaSeal™ is similar to the superglue you may have in a drawer in your kitchen, but it has been modified to not set as rigidly as the commercial glue. When injected into a varicose vein, VenaSeal™ acts to glue the vein closed. This eliminates the varicose vein, which is then absorbed by the body over the course of a few weeks.
The VenaSeal procedure ablates the saphenous vein by sealing it with a specially formulated medical adhesive. As in other ablation procedures, a small catheter is inserted into the saphenous vein through a small incision made under local anesthesia. We deliver small amounts of adhesive through the catheter as we slowly withdraw it. An advantage of VenaSeal over ClosureFast is our not needing to inject local anesthesia into the tissues surrounding the saphenous vein. Because they experience almost no discomfort, most patients decline use of a mild sedative and can immediately return to normal activities.
Varicose Vein Causes
There are two types of veins in our bodies, deep veins and superficial veins. Veins are the highways the body uses to return de-oxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs. In the legs the veins have a tough job, pushing blood upward and fighting gravity. When we are young, our veins are strong. So are the surrounding tissues. These tissues help squeeze the veins, aiding in pushing the blood back up the legs. As we age, these tissues weaken, as do our vein walls. Veins contain one-way valves that prevent backflow of the blood. When the valves weaken or become damaged, coupled with weakening vein walls, the blood can pool in areas of the vein. This creates a varicose vein, the superficial veins that are enlarged, swollen, or twisted near the skin surface.
Am I a Candidate for VenaSeal™ Treatment?
VenaSeal™ has been approved by the FDA for treatment of symptomatic superficial varicose veins of the legs. If you have these types of varicose veins, this treatment option is a great new alternative to laser or radiofrequency ablation, both of which require tumescent anesthetic and the wearing of compression stockings after treatment. After a VenaSeal™ treatment, compression stockings are not needed and the patient can immediately return to normal activities or work.
You can’t use the VenaSeal™ system if you have a known hypersensitivity to the VenaSeal™ adhesive, acute inflammation of the veins due to blood clots, or acute whole-body infection.
Dr. Reynolds begins your VenaSeal™ procedure using ultrasound to map out the target vein. Next a small amount of local anesthetic is injected into the area where the catheter will be inserted, usually just below the knee. Using ultrasound guidance, Dr. Reynolds then inserts a needle into the vein. A wire is passed up the needle and the needle is removed. The catheter is then passed up the vein along the wire. Using ultrasound, the catheter is placed just short of the top of the surface vein where it joins the deep vein.
Now it’s time to insert the glue. Dr. Reynolds injects a set amount of the VenaSeal™ glue and then pulls back the catheter 3cm. He waits for a period of three minutes to allow the glue to set and shut the vein. Dr. Reynolds then injects the next set amount of glue, pulls back the catheter, and waits 30 seconds. This process is continued for the whole length of the targeted vein. Then the catheter is removed and the procedure is complete.
What is VenaSeal™ Glue Made of?
VenaSeal™ uses a medical-grade “superglue.” When injected into the vein it collapses the wall and seals it off. Cyanoacrylate is the clinical name of the glue that has been thoroughly tested and has shown to have no negative effects on the human body. In fact, cyanoacrylates have been in use in medicine since the 1950s. You may have heard them called “skin glue,” as they are sometimes used in lieu of sutures.
What Happens After VenaSeal™ Treatment?
You’ll be encouraged to walk immediately after your treatment. You can resume normal activity or return to work right away, but you’ll need to avoid strenuous exercise for 48 hours. You should avoid long-haul plane flights or long periods of standing for three weeks or so. After two weeks, you’ll return and Dr. Reynolds checks the treated vein with ultrasound.
What Happens to the Blood that was Going Into the Varicose Vein?
After treatment, your body immediately diverts the blood from the faulty vein into adjacent normal, healthy veins. The body then uses what is known as sclerosis to scavenge and absorb the now-unused vein.
Does VenaSeal™ Hurt?
The only thing you’ll feel is the initial local anesthetic applied to where the needle/catheter will be inserted. Compare this to the tumescent anesthesia required with other varicose vein treatments, followed by soreness and the need to wear compression stockings. This is not the case with VenaSeal™. Plus, the procedure is fast, usually lasting only 15 minutes or so.
Dr. Reynolds has been excited at the effectiveness of this new varicose vein treatment. Two clinical studies have shown VenaSeal™ to have an initial success rate of between 94 and 98.9 percent. Thus far, long-term results don’t show a decrease in that success rate.
There can be mild to moderate pain for 1-2 weeks along the glued vein. This can be managed with light walking and leg elevation while resting, along with anti-inflammatory medication. Phlebitis or inflammation may occur along the inner thigh in line with the treated vein, but is manageable with anti-inflammatory medication, as well. There may be some skin numbness above the treated vein, but this has proven to be rare.