Getting your varicose veins treated can be a risky decision to make. There are many factors you need to consider: what procedures to undergo, finding the right doctor, and whether you can get healthcare coverage. Luckily, undergoing surgery in the hospital is no longer the only option. Private clinics like The Vein Institute offer treatments that are just as effective as surgery.
But what are the key differences between vein treatments in a private clinic versus a hospital? Here’s a guide on everything you need to know.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins that are usually blue or purple in nature. They affect up to 30% of Australians and are often found in the legs and feet.
People with varicose veins in feet and legs typically report symptoms like tiredness, heaviness, pain, or swelling in the legs. While they aren’t usually a cause for concern, you leaving them untreated can worsen symptoms and lead to other serious health risks. (Read: When to Worry About Varicose Veins)
Are spider veins different from varicose veins?
People often confuse varicose veins with spider veins. In contrast, spider veins are superficial veins that come in web-like clusters, are red or purple in colour, and are flat to the touch.
Unlike varicose veins, spider veins come with no symptoms and are therefore considered a cosmetic issue. So, unless your spider veins are connected to deeper varicose veins, we wouldn’t recommend medical treatment.
What are the treatment options for varicose veins at the hospital?
Before medical advancements like laser treatments, surgery was the only option to treat varicose veins. Performed only in hospitals due to being more invasive, it involves a general anaesthetic, incisions, and longer recovery time.
With vein stripping, a commonly known procedure under vascular surgery, a surgeon puts the patient under general or local anaesthetic. First, they create two or three incisions in the leg to access the vein. Then, they insert a fine wire through the length of the vein, tie it, and then pull it out. If necessary, your surgeon may perform an ambulatory phlebectomy, which involves accessing damaged veins through smaller incisions. For this kind of procedure, your doctor will need to do some stitching to close off the cuts. (Read more here: Is Surgery the Only Option for Varicose Veins?)
What non-surgical procedures are offered at a private clinic?
Thanks to medical advancements, patients can now undergo non-surgical vein procedures without the need for hospitalisation. Unlike surgery, doctors perform these treatments by sealing off the vein rather than removing it. Moreover, these procedures are minimally invasive and are on a walk-in walk-out basis. So, you will be able to resume normal activities immediately. However, your doctor may require you to wear compression stockings for a period of time to promote healing.
Below are some of the minimally invasive procedures offered at The Vein Institute’s private clinic.
Doctors use Sclerotherapy for treating small varicose veins and spider veins. This involves injecting a sclerosant into the affected veins, which the doctor uses to irritate the lining of the veins. This then causes the veins to swell and stick together. Typically, a doctor performs this procedure in a vein clinic and it only takes less than an hour to complete. However, this depends on the number and size of the veins your specialist will be treating.
With thermal ablation, your doctor uses heat energy to close off or destroy the affected veins. Eventually, the veins shrink and disappear.
There are two primary types of thermal ablation, the first being a Radio Frequency (RFA) Thermal Ablation procedure. In RFA, the doctor inserts a catheter into the affected vein. Then, a special electrode heats the vein and seals it shut. With Endovenous Thermal Ablation (EVLA) Thermal Ablation, on the other hand, the doctor inserts a laser fibre which then emits laser energy to heat and seals the vein.
Medical superglue, also known as a cyanoacrylate adhesive, is a type of medical adhesive doctors use for closing off affected veins. Like the above, this procedure shrinks the damaged veins. The doctor applies this adhesive directly to the skin or tissue, where it quickly hardens and seals the vein.
The VenaSeal system, a form of medical superglue, uses a small catheter. The vein specialist inserts the catheter into the affected vein by creating a small incision in the skin. Then, the injection delivers the medical adhesive to close off the vein.
ClariVein is the latest varicose veins treatment that specialists perform. This treatment requires a specialised catheter that combines mechanical rotation and chemical injection to close or collapse the affected vein. During the procedure, the doctor also creates a small incision to insert the small catheter into the vein. It uses a rotating wire that damages the inner lining of the vein. Simultaneously, this dispenses a sclerosant solution to seal it shut.
What are the differences between going to a private clinic vs a hospital?
There are a few key differences when it comes to varicose veins treatment in a private clinic instead of a hospital.
Patients usually encounter minimal side effects when it comes to undergoing vascular surgery at the hospital. But as with all other surgical procedures, vascular surgery may also pose risks and other complications.
Procedures in private clinics are minimally invasive and require no general anaesthetic or surgery. So, you can expect treatment to be much faster. Moreover, faster procedures also mean that patients have easier access to varicose veins treatment.
Unlike traditional procedures such as surgery, private clinics utilise medical advancements like laser technologies. These laser treatment technologies are safe and just as effective as surgery. So, patients can expect a high-quality treatment experience. (Read more: Non-Surgical Varicose Vein Treatments and Technologies Used)
In terms of cost, insurance tends to provide higher coverage for surgeries. With treatments at private clinics, Medicare generally covers around 75-85% of the treatment cost. Meanwhile, the out-of-pocket fee will depend on the severity of your case. To learn more about private clinic out-of-pocket costs, refer to this article.
Lastly, several types of highly experienced doctors can perform your treatment at the hospital or private clinic. For example, only vascular surgeons can perform surgical procedures at hospitals. Meanwhile, doctors with expertise in vein care, like phlebologists or vein specialists, are likely to perform treatment at private clinics.
It’s important to find a qualified doctor to fit you and your needs. To help you understand more about the different doctors that can treat you, read this.
What happens next?
Taking the next step can be challenging. So, when it comes to finally getting your varicose veins treated, consult an expert to determine the best course of treatment for you.
The Vein Institute has a team of highly experienced vein specialists to help you with your vein concerns. Depending on your case, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan. Learn more about the treatment options in our private clinic by watching the video below.
If you’re ready, give us a call at 13 VEINS (13 83467). Or, fill out this form to book your initial consultation.