An innovative procedure, the so-called VenaSeal Sapheon Closure System, stands for an umprecedently gentle method in the treatment of varicose veins. In contrast to other methods, no general or local anesthesia is necessary. It is a small ambulant procedure, after which the patient will be immediately able to take up his or her regular activities. Also, the patient will not have to wear compression bandages or stockings.
What makes this method unique is the implementation of a special type of tissue glue, explains Dr. Jens Alm: „This glue is injected into the pathologically enlarged vein, immediately closing it. By the way, this type of glue has been successfully used in other areas of medicine for 50 years.” Dr. Alm, an experienced and dedicated vascular surgeon, is the head of the vein department and of the center of endovascular vein surgery at the Dermatologikum Hamburg. In his department, this new method has already been clinically implemented along the more conventional methods.
In order to do so, an ultra small catheter is furthered upwards into the vein over a puncture area that is as small as the one needed for blood-withdrawal. By slowly pulling the catheter back, the glue is injected into the vein. In order to fix the glue, the doctor compresses the leg from the outside. It will only take about 20 minutes to close the vein along its course. Gradually, the body will break down the vein using its own repairing mechanisms. In about a year, the vein will be completely reabsorbed by the body. “It is absolutely possible to treat both legs in one sitting”, says Dr. Alm. All necessary preliminary examinations are performed with an ultrasound and completely painless. The ultrasound exam will point out the blocked blood flow in the vein.
Many patients think about varicose veins primarily as a cosmetic problem, which is far from being true. “Varicose veins are symptoms of a medical condition”, emphasizes Dr. Alm. “They should be treated before subjective symptoms, such as pain, swollen and tired legs, appear. Those symptoms already mark an overload in the deeper vein system of the leg”. In those cases, grave complications, like a higher risk of thrombosis and subsequent lung embolisms or venous ulcers, may arise. But it is not only misinformation that prevents patients from having surgery. Up to this point, more than 80% of the 360,000 yearly venous procedures in Germany consist of the “stripping method”, in which the vein is literally stripped out of the body in a 2-hour-procedure. The procedure requires an anesthesia and goes along with bruising, often pain and the need to wear compression stockings. Modern procedures, like thermal methods via catheter or radio frequency waves, are significantly gentler compared to the former method. Under those newer procedures, the vein is closed and sealed by heat and then remains in the body. Yet, those methods still require a local or general anesthesia and also a bandage, unlike the VenaSeal System that has been developed by Sapheon, a US company. The system has been approved in Germany since September 2011. Two medical centers have been appointed to introduce this system into the local medical market, one of which is the Dermatologikum in Hamburg. Dr. Alm has already treated over 100 patients with this method. Obviously, there are no long-term results available yet, but the overall results that Dr. Alm has been achieving with this method are very satisfactory: Over half of the patients treated had no impeditions whatsoever directly after surgery, the other half only experienced minor discomfort, which could easily be treated by anti-inflammatory medication. No bruising occurred and the overall tolerance of the glue has been good. “What is important to us”, says Dr. Alm, “are the therapeutic results- and those are outstanding with the VenaSeal Closure system.”