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Varithena – A Chemical Foam to Treat Varicose Veins

by Jane Meggitt

If you’re suffering from extremely large varicose veins, there’s a new treatment available that can eradicate that unsightly, bulging mass. Marketed under the brand name Varithena and formally known as polidicanol injectable foam, the product is the only foam approved by the FDA for treatment of “incompetent great saphenous veins (GSV).” GSVs – also known as long saphenous veins – are the body’s longest veins, running subcutaneously along the legs. Those troubled with “incompetent” GSVs often suffer from aches, itching, throbbing, swelling and a feeling of heaviness in the leg. Prior to Varithena’s approval in 2013, only surgery or lasers could treat varicose GSV. Varithena, manufactured by Pennsylvania-based BTG International, Inc., is also approved for use in other types of varicose veins.

How It Works

Administering Varithena to the patient is straightforward. The doctor injects a small amount of foam into the affected vein through a needle or catheter. The foam causes the failing vein to collapse, but the person’s blood flow heads to other, healthy veins. Once the vein collapses, the foam disperses and deactivates. The entire procedure generally takes an hour or less.


Most patients can resume light activities immediately after treatment and normal activities within a day or so. Avoid heavy exercise for at least a week. Wear compression stockings for the following two weeks, and engage in a minimum 10 minute walk daily for four weeks following the injection. Since administration requires neither anesthesia nor sedation, there’s no grogginess afterward. You only receive numbing of the injection site.

Contraindications and Side Effects

People with blood clots in their veins should not receive Varithena. There’s another serious potential complication – an allergic reaction. Of course, most people won’t know they are allergic to polidicanol until after receiving the injection. The physician will monitor you for at least ten minutes after the procedure is finished to ensure there is no reaction and that swift treatment is available should you prove allergic. There have been fatalities from such reactions, but they are rare. It’s crucial to tell your doctor about any medical conditions you have, or whether you are currently or recently pregnant.

Most side effects are minor, and include temporary leg pain and bruising. However, some patients have developed blood clots, a potentially life-threatening complication.

Not all insurance companies cover Varithena treatment, so check with your insurer prior to booking an appointment. If you decide to go ahead with treatment and pay out of pocket, the cost is generally around $2,500.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about vein treatment, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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