Advantages of Endovenous Laser Ablation

Updated on: August 18, 2014

Varicose veins affect patients in Dalton, Georgia and in other areas of the nation. The pain, discomfort and heaviness they cause can become extremely troublesome for patients. Varicose veins often appear as bulging and are purplish in color. Their unsightly appearance leads may to seek treatments such as endovenous laser ablation to find relief and overcome the condition. There is a chance of recurrence following treatment with this and other procedures, but patients are encouraged to speak with their doctor about ways they can lessen their risk of recurrence. The chance of recurrence within two years is less than 10% and the procedure has a success rate of over 95%.

Endovenous laser ablation, also referred to as endovenous laser therapy, ELT, EVLT or laser varicose veins removal, is often performed in an outpatient facility such as a vein clinic or doctor's office. The procedure is minimally invasive and does not leave scars. Recovery from endovenous laser ablation is usually quick and easy, as patients are provided with almost immediate relief from symptoms of varicose veins. Minimal postoperative pain may be present, but any mild discomfort or bruising may be treated with over-the-counter medication. Before using any medicine, however, patients are strongly encouraged to consult their physician. Individuals should walk following the treatment and a follow up appointment may be made for about a week after the procedure.

Before beginning the procedure, patients are provided with eye goggles to shield their eyes from accidental exposure to the laser light. A topical anesthetic is then used to numb the treatment area to provide for patient comfort during treatment. A laser fiber is then inserted into the problem vein. Ultrasound is used to verify the position of the laser and it is slowly heated using low energy. This damages the vein wall, causing it to collapse, shrink and eventually disappear entirely. The vein becomes fibrosed and can no longer carry blood. Blood flow will subsequently be handled by other veins in the body. A half an hour to an hour is usually required to perform this procedure.

Once the procedure has been completed, the fiber is removed from the vein and a compression bandage is placed over the treatment area. This compression bandage should be worn for about a week to aid in healing. Most patients are able to leave the doctor's office or clinic in about an hour after the procedure.

As with most medical procedures, there is a risk of certain complications associated with endovenous laser ablation. During an initial consultation with a vein specialist, patients are encouraged to review these risks. Numbness, a pulling sensation, phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis and infection at the incision site have been associated with endovenous laser ablation. Other complications associated with poor technique may also be possible, making seeking treatment from a trained professional all the more important.

Endovenous laser ablation is often covered by insurance if the patient is experiencing symptoms of varicose veins. Patients may first be required to use compression stockings and take pain medication for about six months to determine if the procedure is medically necessary. To determine if the treatment will be covered, those interested are encouraged to seek the consultation of a physician in the Dalton area, as well as their insurance company.

One of the most common concerns that patients have regarding endovenous laser ablation is whether removing the greater saphenous vein is harmful. A greater saphenous vein that is thick and thrombosed may actually be detrimental to healthy circulation and its removal may improve circulation. A greater saphenous vein that is healthy, however, should not be harmed in case it is needed in future open heart surgeries.

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