If you have read many of the articles we provide on our Vein Clinics of Hawaii website, you have probably noticed that we use the terms “invasive,” “non-invasive,” and “minimally-invasive” a lot when describing medical procedures. But what exactly do these terms mean? What’s the difference between a “non-invasive” procedure and a “minimally-invasive” procedure? Our varicose vein doctor explains.
Invasive and non-invasive procedures
In medical terminology, an invasive procedure is one in which the doctor must break the skin or enter a body cavity to treat the patient. Most traditional surgeries are invasive, because they require that incisions must be made in the skin with a scalpel. Most invasive surgeries require general anesthesia to knock you out while they are being performed, and require extensive recovery time for the incisions to heal.
Non-invasive procedures, on the other hand, require no break or incision in the skin, and do not intrude into body cavities. If you are having your heart examined, an electrocardiogram (ECG) is non-invasive, because it takes its measurements from electrodes temporarily pasted to the skin. The diagnostic procedures that Hawaii vein specialists use to detect vein diseases are also non-invasive because they use ultrasound to see beneath the surface of the skin using high-frequency sound waves.
One of the important revolutions in medical technology in recent decades has been the development of minimally-invasive procedures that allow doctors to perform surgeries without large incisions and general anesthesia. Technically, getting a flu shot is a minimally-invasive procedure because the hypodermic needle must pierce the skin, but it does it so gently that you usually don’t even need a Band-Aid afterwards, much less stitches. Almost all of the techniques we use in our vein treatment center in Hawaii are minimally invasive. For example, sclerotherapyis a procedure used to eliminate varicose veins that involves inserting a tiny needle into the diseased veins and then injecting a liquid that causes the veins to collapse. Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) can be used to eliminate blood clots in larger veins, but again without having to make large incisions to access them; instead, a tiny laser is inserted into the veins and burns the clots away from the inside.
Benefits of minimally-invasive procedures
Minimally-invasive procedures have many advantages over other treatments. Because there are no incisions, there is usually no need for anesthesia. There is also much less chance of infection. With no incisions, there are no scars left after the surgery, and there is no need for “recovery time” because the procedures are so gentle that there is really nothing to recover from. Especially in the field of vein health, minimally-invasive procedures are becoming the norm because they work better than the invasive procedures doctors used to use.
If you want to find out more about the procedures we use to treat vein diseases, read the many other articles on our website or give our Oahu varicose vein doctor a call or go online and ask us any questions you like. We’ll be happy to answer them.