Because most of the medical procedures used to diagnose and treat vein disease are “non-invasive” or “minimally invasive,” Boynton Beach vein specialists use those terms a lot in the articles we write for this website. But what exactly do these terms mean, and how do they potentially affect you as a patient?
Invasive and non-invasive procedures
Medically, an invasive procedure is any surgical technique in which the doctor must break the skin or enter a body cavity. All open surgery is invasive, and requires that incisions be made in the skin with a scalpel, and that either local or general anesthesia be used during the procedure. Invasive procedures such as heart surgery are sometimes necessary and life saving, but they have high risks, leave scars, and require lengthy recovery times. In the “bad old days” of varicose vein treatment a few decades ago, the only way to remove them was via an invasive procedure called “vein stripping,” in which the surgeon made incisions along the diseased veins and literally scraped them away with a scalpel. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then.
Non-invasive procedures require no break or incision in the skin, and do not intrude into a body cavity. Thus a diagnostic procedure that uses ultrasound (safer than X-rays) to look beneath the surface of the skin to detect vein disease is non-invasive. So is an electrocardiogram (ECG), which creates an electrical profile of your heart health via electrodes that are temporarily pasted to your skin. Most of the diagnostic procedures used in the treatment of vein disease – such as the use of ultrasound or blood pressure measurements taken in two locations to determine the ankle-brachial index – are non-invasive.
Medically, a minimally-invasive procedure (MIP) is any medical treatment methodology that is less invasive than open surgery performed for the same purpose. Technically, even getting a flu shot or drawing a blood sample is a minimally-invasive procedure, because the tiny hypodermic needle must pierce the skin. In the treatment of vein disease, minimally-invasive procedures include sclerotherapy (in which a tiny catheter is inserted into a vein to inject a sealing agent and close it) and endovenous laser treatment (in which a tiny laser is used by your vascular doctor to remove diseased tissue or blood clots inside the veins).
MIPs have many, many benefits over other treatment methodologies. First, because there are no incisions, there is generally no need for anesthesia, and a much lower risk of infection. The MIPs used to treat varicose veins and the smaller spider veins also leave no scars, and require no recovery period. At most you might need a Band-Aid to cover the point at which the catheter was inserted. In terms of time and convenience, minimally invasive procedures allow most vein disease treatments to be performed in the comfort of our Boynton Beach vein clinic in less than an hour, without the need to go to a hospital or take time off work. Finally, as you can imagine now that you’ve heard about the old invasive procedure called “vein stripping,” the modern MIPs work better – they deliver more optimal results with less risk and more convenience.
How do I find out more?
If you are interested in learning more about the non-invasive diagnostic methods we use in our Boynton Beach vein center or the state-of-the-art minimally-invasive treatment methodologies we practice, spend some time looking over the informative articles on our website, at www.southpalmcardiovascular.com. Or just give the vein doctors in Boynton Beach a call at 561-515-0080 and we’ll set up an appointment for an initial consultation, during which you can ask any questions you might have.