Almost everybody knows someone who has suffered from varicose veins. Fortunately, use of vein stripping as the conventional treatment for these abnormal blood vessels is a thing of the past. One convenient vein treatment option vascular clinics now offer is endovenous laser therapy (EVLT).
Vein Health Overview
Vein problems such as varicose vessels, spider veins, and reticular veins occur primarily in the legs. The job of these veins is to transport blood from the extremities back to the heart. When a one-way valve in a vein malfunction, blood leaks backward into the vessel. As it pools, it causes the walls of the vein to stretch and bulge. This vein health problem results in the development of one of the three types of abnormal vessels.
Although varicose veins are often mainly a cosmetic concern, the Mayo Clinic notes that they can itch or become painful. Potential complications, while rare, include ulcers, phlebitis, bleeding, and blood clots. When conservative measures such as wearing compression stockings or shedding excess weight fail to make a patient comfortable, the alternative is eliminating these troublesome vessels.
Endovenous laser therapy, sometimes called endovenous laser treatment, is a safe and effective procedure that treats varicose veins on an outpatient basis. According to the Stony Brook School of Medicine, these abnormal vessels affect around 40 percent of the adult U.S. population. This therapy utilizes heat from a laser to create an injury to the wall of each targeted vein, causing the vessel to close and eventually become scar tissue.
What Patients Can Expect
At an initial consultation, a vein specialist outlines varicose vein treatment alternatives and recommends the best option for each patient. The discussion also includes any risks associated with laser treatment of varicose vessels.
This procedure is minimally invasive and typically takes less than an hour, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports. After covering the affected area with an antiseptic, the physician administers a local anesthetic to minimize any discomfort.
Once a needle is in place within the vein, the vascular specialist inserts a laser probe through it. Ultrasound imaging helps make sure that the positioning is accurate. The heat from each firing of the laser shrinks the vein until it can no longer transport blood. Neighboring healthy vessels assume the workload of the vein treated.
Vein clinic staff members encourage patients to get up and walk soon after the procedure. Mild bruising and a feeling of tightness are common. Patients are usually able to go back to work the same day and resume their normal activities except for strenuous exertion.
Endovenous laser therapy is highly successful. Thomas Jefferson University reports that a study of 3,000 varicose veins treated with this procedure showed that 97 percent of the vessels were still closed after 28 months. It is important to realize, however, that no treatment can prevent the development of new varicose veins.