A new varicose veins treatment that is completely non-invasive was featured in The Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail Online this weekend. Echotherapy treatment of varicose veins and other venous conditions uses ultrasound. In the UK it is currently only available at The Whiteley Clinic.
This new non-invasive treatment ablates leg varicose veins with high energy focused ultrasound (HIFU) beams. It is a completely different treatment than laser (EVLA) or radiofrequency (RFA). These standard techniques need a device to be put inside the veins first before treatment.
SONOVEIN performs this Echotherapy treatment by featuring a high-tech and painless form of focused ultrasound which is beamed through the skin. It destroys unsightly and troubled veins below the surface.
Although still in its early stages, Echotherapy for veins is predicted to transform varicose veins treatment and the treatment of venous leg ulcers. These venous conditions affect millions of people in the UK.
Prof Mark Whiteley, the person to use this technique in the UK, has stated that this method will alter the way we treat varicose veins. Prof. Mark Whiteley has now performed this remarkable treatment on a dozen patients at The Whiteley Clinic in London.
Varicose veins occur when the surface vein fill abnormally from underlying veins that have lost their valves. This allows blood to fall down the veins by gravity. Venous blood should be pumped up the leg towards the heart. When blood falls the wrong way down the veins it is called “venous reflux”. This venous reflux fills the surface veins or “tributaries”.
When this has been going on for a long time, the walls of the surface veins can stretch, causing the visible varicose veins. If these are not treated, the continuing venous reflux can then cause ankle swelling, eczema or brown stains at the ankles, venous leg ulcers, bleeds or even clots (phlebitis).
Varicose veins affect 15-20% of adults in the UK and venous reflux 30-40%. Women and men are equally affected – but men don’t go to doctors so often. This results in people thinking that women get varicose veins more than men – which is wrong!
Symptoms include aching legs after standing for a long time, a feeling of heaviness or tiredness, a burning sensation and throbbing.
The traditional method of treating varicose veins was stripping them out. This was painful – and our research has shown that they just grow back in most people! More recently lasers and radiofrequency have been used to destroy the damaged veins from the inside, using heat and the insertion of probes passed into the veins through a cut in the skin.
Another more upcoming treatment that has also been introduced Prof Mark Whiteley is the new Microwave Procedure (EMWA). This harnesses research proven techniques used widely in medicine. The Microwave technique has all the advantages of radiofrequency ablation as well as the latest lasers. Currently this is also exclusively available at The Whiteley Clinic in the UK.
If you are suitable for Echotherapy, you will be fully consented, and the procedure explained in detail. Specialists will first identify what veins need treating, then the SONOVEIN device will be positioned directly over the affected area. Once the device is positioned, a high intensity focused ultrasound is emitted to generate a heat that ablates the damaged veins.
Just as how the existing laser treatments work from inside the veins, with Echotherapy treatment there is no damage to the skin as the ultrasound passes through. Depending on the size of the area that requires treating, some patients may require local anaesthetic in case there is any pain. So far, no-one has needed painkillers after the treatment, and we haven’t seen any bruising at all.
Victoria Jenkin received this treatment at The Whiteley Clinic in London May 2019. She had previously had a range of other vein treatments over the last 10 years at various clinics. Victoria recently began to feel discomfort in her ankle. After a scan confirming blood was pooling there, Prof. Mark Whiteley suggested the Echotherapy treatment.
Since having treatment in May, Victoria has not had any problems since the treatment. She said to the journalists that she would have the treatment again should another problem arise.
Victoria reported that although a small amount of local anaesthetic was injected, she could only feel a slight vibration as the ultrasound beams hit the targeted area. Victoria also had no scarring, nor bruising afterwards. She was able to continue with her daily activities directly after treatment.
With SONOVEIN® being so new (the CE mark for the SONOVEIN® was only given in April 2019) we have not yet fully identified which patients and patterns of venous conditions are optimally treated with this technology.
As with endovenous thermoablation in 1999, this technology will develop, and will no doubt improve rapidly as lessons are learnt with clinical experience. However, as a totally non-invasive and precise treatment option for varicose veins, venous leg ulcers and other manifestations of venous reflux disease, SONOVEIN® must be considered as the next potential disruptive technology in this field.
As it is exclusively available in the UK in The Whiteley Clinic, our consultants will be happy to advise you if your veins are suitable for this Echotherapy treatment. If not, they will be able to advise the optimal endovenous treatment in your specific case. This is be determined by a venous duplex ultrasound, performed by a Whiteley Clinic trained vascular technologist and your clinical examination.