Background: Although no randomized controlled trial has assessed the effects of either compression sclerotherapy or ambulatory phlebectomy, both techniques are used to treat varicose veins worldwide. We performed a randomized controlled trial to compare recurrence rates of varicose veins and complications after compression sclerotherapy and ambulatory phlebectomy.
Methods: From September 1996 to October 1998, we randomly allocated 49 legs to compression sclerotherapy and 49 legs to ambulatory phlebectomy. Our primary outcome parameters were as follows: recurrence rates at 1 and 2 years and complications related to therapy. Eighty-two patients were included, of whom 16 were included with both of their legs. The number of treated legs was therefore 98, but two patients were lost to follow-up.
Results: One year recurrence amounted to 1 out of 48 for phlebectomy and 12 out of 48 for compression sclerotherapy (P<0.001); at 2 years, six additional recurrences were found, but then solely for compression sclerotherapy (P<0.001). Significant differences in complications occurring more in phlebectomy than in compression sclerotherapy therapy were blisters, teleangiectatic matting, scar formation, and bruising from bandaging.
Conclusion: Our results show that ambulatory phlebectomy is an effective therapy for varicose veins of the leg. Recurrence rates are significantly lower than for compression sclerotherapy therapy. If varicose veins persist 4 weeks after compression sclerotherapy, it can be argued that to reduce the risk of future recurrence ambulatory phlebectomy should be considered as the better treatment option.