Treating varicose veins safely with medical adhesive “superglue”
The VenaSeal vein glue system
For greater than 15 years, varicose veins have been successfully treated using two minimally invasive techniques. The first and most widely used is radiofrequency ablation (RF). The second is endovenous laser therapy (EVLT). Although both RF and EVLT treatments are effective and well-tolerated medical researchers are continually seeking less invasive options.
The most recent development involves the use of the medical-grade adhesive known as cyanoacrylate. Previously, this type of adhesive has been used to permanently seal cranial arteriovenous (AV) fistulas. Today it’s being used to permanently seal incompetent veins and varicose veins of the lower extremity. Clinically speaking this often refers to the great saphenous vein (GSV), small saphenous vein (SSV), or both.
During treatment cyanoacrylate adhesive is introduced directly into the vein being treated. The glue begins to permanently bond with the vein wall where it undergoes a hardening process (sclerosis). Once fully hardened the incompetent vein is sealed shut along its entire length and gradually reabsorbed by the body. The final effect is identical to that produced by the RF and EVLT techniques.
Among vascular specialist the VenaSeal brand cyanoacrylate adhesive is usually referred to simply as “vein glue.” To date the VenaSeal system is arguably the least invasive treatment in use today.
How is VenaSeal adhesive used?
During treatment, a specialized catheter is used to place a small amount of adhesive inside the vein being treated. This immediately removes the vein from the venous circulation. Due to the nature of the venous system the blood is immediately diverted into nearby healthy veins.
Technically speaking, treatment with VenaSeal is simpler and easier than either RF or EVLT. Pain control using local anesthetics isn’t required, nor is the introduction of large volumes of dilute anesthetic (tumescent anesthesia). No medications must be taken to prepare the patient for the procedure. Upon completion the patient can return to their full range of activities immediately.
Furthermore, since VenaSeal isn’t a heat-based treatment it carries no risk of burn injuries or nerve damage. This also means that no prescription pain medication is necessary after the procedure. Finally, the use of hot, uncomfortable compression stockings in the days following the procedure isn’t necessary.