The Women's Journal

Varicose Vein Treatment: Not Your Mother’s Vein Stripping

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By Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC  


Varicose veins are engorged, bulging, and tortuous veins that are found most commonly in the legs. These veins can be burdensome because they are unsightly, but more importantly they are a common sign of an underlying cardiovascular disease known as venous insufficiency.

There are two types of blood vessels in the body: arteries and veins. Arteries carry blood away from the heart and to the body. Veins are the vessels that carry blood from the body back to the heart. These vessels have one-way valves all throughout their interior that keep the blood flowing in the correct direction. Several factors can cause a weakening of these valves which can result in a backflow and pooling of blood. When this occurs in the veins they can become swollen and tortuous. This is often seen in the veins in the legs because blood from the lower extremities is working the hardest against gravity to return to the heart. Some factors that can cause a weakening of the valve include, but are not limited to: genetics, age, hormones, obesity, pregnancy, and sitting or standing for long periods of time. If left untreated, venous insufficiency can cause worsening symptoms such as swelling, discoloration, and even non-healing ulcers on the skin.

Until recently, the standard of care for varicose vein treatment was surgical ankle-to-groin vein stripping. This procedure required an in-patient stay in the hospital with long and painful recoveries and a high risk for negative results such as bleeding, infection, and even nerve damage. Thankfully, medicine is constantly evolving and radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of venous insufficiency was introduced. Radiofrequency venous ablation is a minimally invasive procedure proven to be more effective and have less complications when compared to traditional vein stripping procedures. With the radiofrequency ablation procedure, the leg is thoroughly cleansed and draped, a local anesthetic is applied, a very small incision is made, and a tiny catheter is introduced into the vein guided by ultrasound imagery. Additional anesthetic is introduced all along the affected vein and the vein is then heated to a temperature that will cause it to collapse on itself. The vein seals off and collateral circulation takes over. The catheter is removed and no sutures are required. The patient is able to walk out of the treatment facility the same day and return to normal activity as long as heavy lifting is avoided. Bed rest is actually discouraged after the procedure. The patient is instructed to wear compression stockings for several days post-procedure to decrease bruising and discomfort. Compression stockings also help to decrease the incidence of blood clots. These medical grade compression stockings are applied immediately after the procedure at the treatment facility. The patient then returns in about two to four days for a follow up visit.

Patients today are often fearful of seeking treatment for varicose veins based on memories of their parents or other family members having experienced invasive treatment in the past with painful and complicated recoveries. Patients should be assured that today’s standard of care for venous insufficiency consists of a minimally invasive treatment with almost no recovery time. Venous insufficiency, if left untreated, can cause worsening symptoms that eventually result in non-healing ulcers on the skin and patients should be encouraged to seek treatment to prevent these worsening symptoms.

If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms of varicose veins, call today at 302-690-0933 to schedule a FREE vein screening. We can walk you through the process and get you on your way to healthier legs!


“This Doctor has to have been put on this earth to help those of us who either had or have horrible veins, legs, etc. Not only that, this is the type of doctor, if you are a person like I was who had all but given up on ever finding someone who could finally fix my veins, stop the pain, heal my sores, Doctor Alfieri at every visit never went without saying, ‘Your legs will be dance ready!’ Always positive! After one visit, my legs started the healing process – it was wonderful . . . Which leads me to his bedside manner . . . he just gets in there and will tell you, ‘You are here now, we are here to fix you, here to help you.’ His staff is top notch as well. A++ THANK GOD I FOUND HIM.” – Benalee M.

If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms of varicose veins, call today at 

(302) 690-0933 to schedule a FREE vein screening. We can walk you through the process and 

get you on your way to healthier legs!

Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC is a board certified interventional cardiologist who has been practicing in the New Castle County area for over twenty-five years. In that time he has seen and treated many forms of cardiovascular disease, one of which being the progressive and often painful and debilitating venous insufficiency, commonly described as varicose veins. Over the years, Dr. Alfieri came to realize that this problem was frequently underappreciated, misdiagnosed, and undertreated. It was this extensive experience and intense compassion for his patients that drove his desire to provide an effective and permanent treatment and led him to found Delaware Advanced Vein Center. With over twenty-five years of experience as an interventionalist, Dr. Alfieri is uniquely qualified to perform a multitude of vascular procedures with minimal discomfort and maximum, lasting results.