How does ultrasound eliminate varicose veins?

Venous insufficiency and one of its most visible symptoms, varicose veins, affect 1 in 3 people in France. Beyond the traditional treatments that are often invasive and uncomfortable for the patient, echotherapy is the most innovative treatment method in the sector. Materialised by a high-performance and robotic device: the SONOVEIN, it is based on the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU).

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is an elastic, mechanical sound wave (vibration), inaudible to the human ear because its frequency range is above 20 MHz. They propagate through solid, liquid or gaseous media, but also through biological tissues naturally rich in water.

How is it produced?

They are based on the physical phenomenon of piezoelectricity discovered by the brothers Pierre and Jacques Curie in 1880. They discovered that certain materials such as quartz produce an electric field when pressed. This electrical energy is then converted into mechanical energy using a transducer. It is this mechanical energy that can be used in many fields.

What are their applications?

Ultrasound has long been used in industry, agriculture, etc. …. Totally harmless to health, they are also used in the medical field for :

  • diagnostic: ultrasound, echo-Doppler etc…,
  • therapeutic: treatment of certain tumours, fibroids, nodules, kidney stones, etc. and, since 2019, varicose veins thanks to Theraclion’s SONOVEIN.

How does ultrasound therapy work?

Based on the ability of ultrasound to pass through the skin, the SONOVEIN ultrasound therapy device uses a beam of high-energy ultrasound waves (HIFU), which, when focused on specific points, generate thermal energy in the form of heat (around 85 degrees), at the level of the skin and the subcutaneous tissue.

The energy is delivered via an extracorporeal treatment probe (transducer) equipped :

  • an imaging system that allows live monitoring of treatment progress,
  • a cooling system, which together with dedicated software algorithms, protects the patients’ skin from possible thermal damage.

Les ultrasons utilisés dans ce procédé utilisent des puissances 10 000 fois supérieures à celles des ultrasons. Ils permettent cependant de cibler avec une précision millimétrique, ce qui signifie que les tissus environnants ne sont pas endommagés.

What is the effect on varicose veins?

Varicose veins are characterised by an abnormal and permanent dilation of the superficial veins in the leg. This takes on a tortuous, purplish appearance.

It is caused by a malfunction of the valves in the legs or a deformation of the vein wall. Indeed, when the valve system is defective, the blood tends to flow back down towards the foot instead of being propelled towards the detoxification centres of the body. The venous return does not take place correctly, hence the phenomenon of visible veins that the practitioner seeks to eliminate.

How does ultrasound work on varicose veins?

The therapy is based on the collagen-rich composition of the vein walls.

The heat caused by the ultrasound (HIFU) will stimulate the production of collagen and transform it into a kind of “glue” that will progressively shrink the vein, then block it and close it. Once necrotic, the vein will eventually be resorbed by the body and disappear.

The impact of the HIFU is made by successive points, the size of a grain of rice.

The advantages of this method without scalpels or injection of product or recourse to the operating theatre are numerous: in addition to the absence of scars and risks of infection, it makes it possible to treat all types of veins (including tortuous ones) and to resume one’s activities immediately after the treatment.

Sylvie Berne

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