About 40% of the adult population has varicose veins – superficial vessels in the leg that are abnormally dilated, twisted or lengthened.  Varicose veins rise and bulge above the surface of the skin and may be uncomfortable. If untreated, they may result in more severe medical conditions like leg ulcers and phlebitis.

Skilled physicians use a range of options, including Sclerotherapy, endovenous laser therapy, radiofrequency ablation, and Phlebectomy, to treat patients struggling with the venous disease. This article will highlight all a patient needs to know about varicose treatment with endovenous laser therapy.

 What is endovenous laser therapy?

This is an image-guided, minimally invasive procedure that’s used to treat varicose veins. The process involves the use of an ultrasound machine, laser fiber or radiofrequency electrode, vascular catheter, and console.

How the procedure is performed

A trained interventional radiologist will clean and sterilize the area and cover it with a surgical drape. He or she will then use local anesthesia to numb the area where the catheter will pass through to the varicose vein, and use the ultrasound to observe the vein and trace its path.

The radiologist will make a tiny skin incision at the site, and with the help of the ultrasound, insert the catheter through the skin to an abnormal vein. He or she will then inject the radiofrequency electrode or laser fiber through the catheter and expose the tip by pulling the catheter back slightly. The radiologist applies radiofrequency or laser energy as they remove the catheter is slowly.

The procedure is often done on an outpatient basis and takes about an hour to complete.

Treatments

The procedure has been safely and successfully used to ablate the small and great saphenous veins, posterior and anterior accessory great saphenous vein, the posterior and anterior circumflex veins of the thighs, the superficial accessory saphenous vein and the vein of Giacomini.

Endovenous laser therapy has been used in the treatment of long straight competent tributary veins, especially in obese patients who either microphlebectomy or sclerotherapy would be time-consuming, difficult and high risk.

Recovery time following the procedure

Since it’s an outpatient procedure, patients are often allowed to go home on the same day, but there are a few exemptions. Many people report experiencing little to no pain, and usually, resume their daily activities after the procedure. Doctors recommend for patients to steer clear of any strenuous activities involving legs, like weight training for two-three weeks.

Endovenous laser therapy vs. other treatment options

The conventional “vein stripping” which involves the removal of the saphenous vein through large skin incision is not only invasive but also leaves behind a scar. Endovenous laser therapy, on the other hand, is minimally invasive as it only involves small skin incision and delivers exceptional results within a short time. It also leaves no scar behind.

The risks and side effects involved

Like any other surgeries, endovenous laser treatment to presents some risks. Some endovenous laser treatment side effects include infection, bleeding, pain over the vein, nerve damage, bruising, blood clots, swelling or redness, burns and changes on skin color.