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Though, conservative management with compression therapy may improve symptoms of varicose veins, minimally invasive treatment is the best way to eliminate venous incompetence. Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) is one form of minimally invasive ablation therapies available in the management of varicose veins. Laser varicose vein treatment is one of the most widely used types of varicose vein treatment.
EVLT Treats Varicose Veins
Laser varicose vein treatment is one form of ablation therapy performed at your doctor’s office with local anesthesia, requiring minimal to no sedation. Recovery time is short, and typically patients recover within under an hour, returning to their normal activities. Previously, the only treatment option available to those suffering from varicose veins was vein stripping. Stripping is a significant type of surgery, an invasive procedure, that involves making an incision and stripping your vein. Typically, these patients have advanced stages of chronic venous insufficiency, and an operation may be their only option.
Varicose Veins Symptoms
Varicose veins are a cosmetic concern for some, but for others can cause significant lower extremity pain and swelling, disrupting sleep and quality of life. Compression hosiery helps improve venous circulation, reducing swelling in the feet and legs, but does not treat the root of the cause.
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, talk to your doctor:
Aching, throbbing leg pain
Swelling in your feet and legs
How do Varicose Veins Form?
Veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward to your feet, moving blood back up towards your heart. When damage occurs to the valve, blood leaks back into the vessel and pools, making the veins more prominent. Over time, the veins enlarge and dilate to compensate for increased volume, causing tension to rise within the venous system. Venous insufficiency and hypertension cause chronic damage to the venous circuit, leading to a sequela of skin conditions.
EVLT Eliminates Venous Incompetence
The goal of EVLT is to deliver enough laser energy to the wall of a varicose vein to cause irreversible occlusion, ultimately scarring the vessel wall and forcing closure. The thought process is: if you scar the vessel wall and cause irreversible occlusion, you thereby eliminate venous incompetence. Though, sometimes a second procedure, such as Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, may be required to treat veins that are too small to manage with laser treatment. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is another form of ablation, but rather than employ thermal energy; your doctor uses an irritating chemical agent instead.
Benefits of EVLT
Minimally invasive procedures, like EVLT and Radiofrequency ablation, share advantages, namely: no surgical incision! There are inherent risks that exist with any surgery, such as infection, blood clots, and even stroke. If you could treat your varicose veins without the risks of general anesthesia, why not? Limited risks are the belief behind minimally invasive procedures, like EVLT.
Here are some other benefits of endovenous ablation:
Quick recovery time
Takes less than an hour
Performed in your doctor’s office
Does not require general anesthesia
No visible scars
Possible Complications of EVLT:
Even when treatment is a technical success, complications can happen. Though, it’s important to mention: severe complications with EVLT are rare. Expect some bruising and tenderness over the treated vein, but pain unrelieved by Ibuprofen or Tylenol and redness is not okay! Never hesitate to call your doctor! They are there to answer your questions and ease your concerns. You can apply a topical gel to help with bruising and tenderness.
Deep venous thrombosis, or a blood clot
Infection of the puncture site
Paresthesia, or a tingling sensation
Dysesthesia, or an abnormal sense of touch
Find a Vein Specialist Near You
Vascular surgeons and phlebologists are doctors that specialize in treating venous and lymphatic disorders, using up-to-date techniques in their field. If you have varicose veins and are experiencing lower extremity pain or swelling, ask your doctor for a referral to see a vein doctor. Or, search here to find a Vein Specialist near you.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Susanne Woloson on 5-01-2020.
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