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Laser Therapy Preferred over Other Options for Varicose Veins

Update Date: Sep 25, 2014 01:20 PM EDT

All three common treatment options for varicose veins, which occur when the veins get swollen, enlarged and twisted, can be effective, a new study reported. However, even though these options can ease symptoms, laser ablation therapy was the least likely to cause complications.

For this study, the researchers recruited about 800 patients who were treated for varicose veins with one of three treatment options, which were laser ablation therapy, surgery or injections of sclerotherapy, a form of chemical foam. The patients received treatment at 11 vascular surgery centers located in the United Kingdom from November 2008 through to October 2012.

The researchers compared the results and concluded that all three treatments eased the patients' symptoms, which included pain, swelling and itchy skin. However, patients from the laser ablation group had a lower risk of suffering from minor complications, such as bruising or bleeding. Only about one percent of the patients from the laser ablation therapy group had complications. On the other hand, six percent of the patients from the injection group and seven percent from the surgery group experienced complications.

"The main findings indicated that laser therapy was the preferred treatment for varicose veins," said study author Dr. Julie Brittenden, a professor in vascular surgery at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland according to FOX News. "We found that all three treatments reduced symptoms associated with varicose veins, but there were fewer complications after laser treatment."

When the team followed-up on the patients six months later, they found that patients who got the injections had lower ratings in life quality when compared to patients from the other two groups. Despite this difference in life quality ratings, the team concluded that average difference was only minor. The type of treatment patients get will most likely not affect the their lives.

"Basically, this is a well-designed study that shows these treatments are similarly effective and safe," Dr. Peter Gloviczki, a vascular surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, who was not involved in the study, said according to Philly.

The study, "A Randomized Trial Comparing Treatments for Varicose Veins," was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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