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New super-glue treatment for sufferers of varicose veins

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au Gabriella Rogers

A new treatment for Australians with varicose veins is more affordable after it was included on the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

The procedure uses a safe medical glue to permanently seal diseased vessels in the leg.

Varicose veins are the result of faulty valves within veins, causing the blood to pool.

a man standing in a room: Patients can often experience swelling and discomfort. Picture: 9NEWS © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Patients can often experience swelling and discomfort. Picture: 9NEWS

Patients can often experience swelling and discomfort.

Simon Coles, 36, says he has a family history of the condition and sought treatment for aches and pains, rather than cosmetic issues.

"I'm aware that these are potentially going to get worse as time goes on so that was another driving reason to get this done," he said.

Treatment for the condition has changed significantly in the past 15 years and minimally invasive techniques have taken over surgical stripping of veins which require anaesthesia.

The latest treatment called VenaSeal, involves injecting medical adhesive into the diseased vein. Picture: 9NEWS © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd The latest treatment called VenaSeal, involves injecting medical adhesive into the diseased vein. Picture: 9NEWS

"If you have stripping you've got a one in five chance the veins will come back in five years,” Dr Shannon Thomas from Vascular Surgeon at Prince of Wales Private and Public Hospitals said.

“If you have the glue, that risk is about five percent so it's much less.”

The latest treatment called VenaSeal, involves injecting medical adhesive into the diseased vein using a small catheter in the leg.

Ultrasound is used during the procedure to guide the catheter and deliver the glue which is called cyanoacrylate.

A small study published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery showed the procedure was highly effective and safe after patients were followed up over 36 months.

Varicose veins are the result of faulty valves within veins, causing the blood to pool. Picture: 9NEWS © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Varicose veins are the result of faulty valves within veins, causing the blood to pool. Picture: 9NEWS

The closure rates at 36 months was 94.7 percent.

"That vein gets blocked and over time, the human body is able to reabsorb the glue and reabsorb the vein without leaving any damage behind to the skin," Dr Thomas said.

He said there is no need to keep the damaged vein as they're considered a spare part. 

"We frequently use them in bypass surgery,” he said.

“The reason these veins exist is they are a heat control mechanism so when you get excessively hot, your body will divert blood flow into the superficial veins.”

a man standing in front of a computer: Dr Thomas turned his attention to the glue procedure over laser. Picture: 9NEWS © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Dr Thomas turned his attention to the glue procedure over laser. Picture: 9NEWS

Dr Thomas turned his attention to the glue procedure over other minimally invasive methods such as laser or radiofrequency because he says there is zero risk of nerve damage and it doesn't leave burn marks on the skin.

The procedure costs about $2000 but a new Medicare rebate means patients with private health insurance can claim up to $450 back.

"Having that rebate means more people should be able to access this technology," Dr Thomas said.

Mara Print, 39, had the procedure done because she developed a blood clot after her son was born.

"It was alarming. It was in a superficial vein but it had the potential to become a deep vein thrombosis so it did need to be treated," she said

She was very happy with her recovery.

"The procedure was quick. It was a day surgery and it's two days later and I'm back on my feet walking around so I've been very impressed with how quick the recovery's been so far," she said.

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