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Alternatives to vein stripping

50% of varicose veins are treated via a technique known as stripping – a complicated surgical procedure which involves tying off problem veins and removing them.

With most patients advised to take 14-21 days off work post-procedure and general anaesthetic commonly used, the surgery is invasive despite its frequent use. And this, alongside the progression of alternative treatments, has led NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to advise against its use except in exceptional circumstances. The non-departmental public body noted in its most recent report that other methods of varicose vein removal offer a better patient experience in terms of results, longevity and recovery time.

With the majority of NHS cases treated through stripping, and few specialists readily available to offer advice on alternatives, it can be difficult to understand what options you have. We explain 4 minimally-invasive varicose vein treatments available to help you find the best method for your needs.

Before and after EVLA treatment
Before and after EVLA treatment

Endovenous Laser Ablation – EVLA

While its full name might be a bit of a mouthful, EVLA is recommended by NICE as the ‘gold standard’ of varicose vein treatment. This essentially means that taking results and patient comfort into account, they believe it to be the best method you can use for tackling problem veins.

The treatment is performed under local anaesthetic and uses radiofrequency waves to collapse the damaged vein, with most procedures taking an average of 45-60 minutes. EVLA yields a much faster recovery time than vein stripping and tests show the treatment has a 98% success rate after five years, compared to only 75.7% for vein stripping.

Ultrasound technology is used to map and locate the damaged veins prior to removal, meaning that the treatment addresses the cause of the problem rather than just symptoms. And, after the vein walls are destroyed by radiofrequency, your legs are simply bandaged to reduce swelling or bruising meaning daily life can resume fairly rapidly.


VenaSeal is a closure system that uses medical adhesive to close varicose veins. Performed under local anaesthetic, a catheter is used which when inserted into the varicose veins dispenses a small amount of medical grade Sapheon Glue to help close the vein. Once closed, the varicose veins treated will then be gradually absorbed by the body. VenaSeal treatment is a great option for patients who have a needle phobia as VenaSeal only requires a single injection per vein. The treatment is quick and painless taking 30-60 minutes on average but this depends on the number of veins being treated. Recovery time is relatively shorter and you often are not required to wear compression stockings after treatment and are able to return to daily activities such as work and exercise a lot sooner.

Sclerotherapy (liquid or foam)

Some veins are too small for EVLA catheters to be used. In these cases, sclerotherapy, another minimally-invasive procedure, is normally the best alternative. The treatment works through injecting chemicals into the vein to destroy its internal lining and cause it to disappear.

Sclerotherapy takes around 30 minutes and is separated into two main forms; foam and liquid. Liquid sclerotherapy is often used to treat smaller varicose veins and spider veins, while foam sclerotherapy is sometimes used for larger ones.

For those who have a considerably smaller thread or spider veins, microsclerotherapy is usually the best method for ridding of them. The procedure is essentially the same as other forms of sclerotherapy, but on a much smaller scale.

A surgeon should always advise you on which treatment technique they believe is going to best for you during a consultation, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.


As with all our Varicose Vein treatments performed at The Private Clinic, phlebectomy is performed under local anaesthetic and is minimally-invasive to ensure a speedy recovery. In phlebectomy, very small thread or varicose veins are removed through tiny incisions in which the veins are pulled out. It is usually only used for veins on the surface of the legs as the holes are so small that no stitches are required.

In terms of the treatments on offer, don’t panic if you don’t know which one to choose – that’s what your surgeon is there for.  They will examine your problem areas and will advise you on the treatment method that will work best for you. This is why it is so important to thoroughly research your clinic and surgeon beforehand. As we always say, an informed patient is the best patient!

Varicose Vein Treatment at The Private Clinic

As pioneers of some of the most minimally-invasive vein treatments available, we are proud to be one of the UK’s most recognised specialist vein clinics with a success rate of over 98%. All our varicose vein treatments are performed by senior consultant vascular surgeons and we have carried out some of the highest number of EVLA procedures in the UK. Our experienced team will always lead you through the range of varicose vein treatments on offer and will help you choose a treatment that best fits in with your lifestyle and needs.

  • The least invasive method for varicose veins and thread veins removal treatment for your legs, body and face.
  • Our Consultant vascular surgeons are pioneers in EVLA(Endovenous Laser Ablation) and have treated thousands of patients.
  • No lengthy downtime or recovery required.
  • The NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) Gold Standard for treatment of Varicose Veins findings show that the success rate after five years for EVLA is 95.4%.
  • A consultation with one of our Consultant Vascular Surgeons costs £150, including a free ultrasound scan of your legs (usually priced between £350 and £450 at most clinics and private hospitals).
  • We focus on the underlying cause of your veins and you will only see a Consultant Vascular surgeon for varicose veins.
  • We have treated thousands of patients who have regained their confidencewhilst avoiding health issues.
  • Treatment takes one hour, you can go home shortly after being treated.
  • Owing to our success, we have been featured on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies TLC’s My Naked Secret and featured in Harper’s Bazaar’s Cosmetic Tweakment Trends for 2019.
  • We have carried out over 7,000 procedures in treating Veins.
  • View our varicose vein before and after photos.
  • Read our extensive varicose vein FAQs.
  • Take a look at our varicose vein patient stories.
  • Find out more information in our varicose vein blogs.
  • Download our varicose vein treatment brochure.

Varicose Vein Consultations are available at LondonBristolBirminghamManchesterLeedsBournemouth, Bexhill and Northampton.

Expert Vascular Surgeons

To find out more about varicose vein treatment or to book a consultation, please call 0333 920 2471 or use our Varicose Vein online contact form.

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