Endovenous ablation involves a number of minimally invasive procedures that provide a treatment option to those suffering from varicose veins without an extensive recovery period or scarring. These procedures include endovenous laser ablation and radiofrequency occlusion, which are also known as EVLT, ELVeS, and VNUS.
As a general technique, endovenous ablation is performed with the use of a concentrated energy heating agent that closes dysfunctional veins. This specialized energy is directed specifically into the problem veins (endovenously) to address circulation complications at the source of the issue.
The energy injures the walls of the veins, causing them to close off and eliminate the pooling blood that causes the pain and unattractive aesthetic associated with varicose veins. Once endovenous ablation is complete, the blood is rerouted through healthy vessels deeper within the tissue. The loss of a vein is not a health concern. Removal of these affected areas of circulation may actually improve blood circulation in the treated area. Improvement in limb circulation will lead to improvement of the symptoms of fatigue and heaviness in the area, and contribute to overall better circulation.
Endovenous ablation is administered on an out patient basis in a physician’s office with the use of local anesthesia. Scarring, side effects, and recovery time are minimal, making these popular procedures for patients seeking to avoid more in depth treatment options.
Endovenous ablation procedures have been approved by the FDA as safe alternatives to surgical vein stripping procedures. Traditionally, the faulty saphenous veins that can cause varicose veins are treated by surgical ligation and stripping. This can involve at least two surgical incisions in order to tie off and remove the faulty vein, and the procedure typically requires general anesthesia. Endovenous ablation techniques have been shown to have a lower risk of complications, shorter recovery period, lower costs and no scarring associated with the procedures in comparison with surgery.
The possible benefits of endovenous ablation treatments are a decrease in the size or total closure of the problematic veins, resulting in a reduction or elimination of side effects and the appearance of varicose veins. Endovenous vein ablation enjoys a success rate ranging from 93-95 percent.
The physician will begin by conducting a duplex ultrasound examination to determine the size, shape, and location of the veins requiring treatment. The images will provide the specialist a reference point from which to base the procedure on.
The skin over the treatment area will be anesthetized with a topical anesthetic. The physician will proceed by inserting the ablating agent into the faulty vein, using ultrasound images to ensure optimum placement. The greater saphenous vein or lesser saphenous vein will typically be targeted by the heat energy. Once treatment is complete, compression garments will be applied and patients are advised to wear them for one week to facilitate the healing process and enhance circulation.
A follow up examination will be scheduled 3 to 7 days after the treatment to evaluate the progress and success of the endovenous ablation. Doppler and duplex ultrasound will be performed to examine the treatment areas. In some cases, the physician may recommend that sclerotherapy be used to fine tune the aesthetic resulting from the endovenous ablation.
While complications and side effects are minimal, there is a possibility of bruising, discoloration, and inflammation in the localized treatment area. These are typically mild and short lived.
Multiple published clinical studies have indicated that the endovenous ablation is very safe and effective. According to these studies, endovenous ablation maintains a 98% success rate with exceptional long term results.