Endovenous Laser Therapy:
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins are blood vessels that have become swollen, enlarged and twisted. Improperly working valves in the veins cause the disorder. In people who have this condition, blood returns up to the heart from the veins in the legs because of the contraction of the calf muscles. Normally, valves in these veins prevent blood from flowing backwards, down towards the feet.
People with varicose veins have leaky valves, which means that some blood flows backward and pools in the veins, causing them to become enlarged.
The procedure called endovenous laser ablation, or laser therapy, uses heat generated by laser energy to seal off faulty blood vessels, diverting blood flow immediately to nearby healthy veins.
A laser is a highly focused beam of light. A doctor can use a laser to treat varicose veins. Laser heat damages a vein, which makes scar tissue form. This scar tissue closes the vein. A closed vein loses its source of blood and dies. After a year or two, the vein is likely to disappear.
Simple laser treatment: Simple laser vein treatment is done on the outside of the skin. It can treat spider veins and tiny varicose veins just under the skin’s surface. Usually, more than one laser session is needed. They are scheduled every 6 to 12 weeks, as prescribed by the doctor. (If the patient has poor blood circulation feeding their tiny veins, the larger “feeder” vein must first be treated with surgery, endovenous laser or radiofrequency treatment, or sclerotherapy.)
Endovenous laser treatment: Endovenous laser treatment can treat larger varicose veins in the legs. A laser fiber is passed through a thin tube (catheter) into the vein. While doing this, the doctor watches the vein on a duplex screen. Laser is less painful than vein ligation and stripping, and it has a shorter recovery time. Only local anesthesia or a light sedative is needed for laser treatment. (For ligation and stripping, general anesthesia is used to put the patient to sleep.) Laser surgery closes and shrinks the varicose vein and causes scar tissue within the vessel. This seals off the vein. Blood then flows through other nearby veins instead.
What To Expect After Treatment
The patient will be able to walk following the treatment, and the recovery period is typically short. Your pateint is likely to be able to return to their normal daily routine after simple laser treatment.
After endovenous laser treatment, the patient should wear compression stockings for 1 week or more. To follow up, the doctor should use duplex ultrasound to make sure that the vein is closed.
Why It Is Done
Simple laser treatment is done for small spider veins and tiny varicose veins. This is sometimes a second treatment step, after a larger varicose vein has been treated with surgery, endovenous laser or radiofrequency treatment, or sclerotherapy.
Endovenous laser treatment is used to close off a larger varicose vein, instead of using surgery to remove it.
How Well It Works
Simple laser treatment: Over the past 20 years, this type of laser treatment has become quite safe and effective.
Endovenous laser treatment: Endovenous laser treatment closes veins about 94 out of 100 times.
If endovenous laser treatment does not close a vein, the patient will need a second treatment.