The twisted, swollen veins, that are varicose veins, can cause symptoms of muscle cramping, swelling, throbbing, and a heavy sensation in the legs. These symptoms can be treated with conservative therapies that include stretching, position change, elevating the legs, compression hose, and proper shoes. At times, these treatments are either no longer effective or do not provide appropriate pain relief, which is when you should look for other types of treatments like varicose veins laser treatment.
One of the most common and effective treatments available to for varicose veins is called Endovascular Laser Therapy, or EVLT. This therapy uses radiation in the form of light to treat varicose veins. The radiation causes damage within the vein, which leads to the vein closing. This closure of the vein prevents further blood flow and the blood in the legs use alternate veins to return to the heart.
How does the Laser Treatment Work?
Endovascular laser therapy (EVLT) is performed in the physician’s office and can be performed over a short time, usually within one hour. A doppler, which is a type of ultrasound to look at veins, is used to locate the veins and is used through the procedure. Local anesthesia is placed and a small incision is made through the skin and into the vein. A hollow, cylindrical instrument, called a catheter is placed in the vein. The catheter keeps the vein open to allow for placement of the laser. With the laser in place, the catheter is then removed. The laser is slowly moved through the length of the vein.
After the laser treatment is completed, the incision site is covered with a bandage. There are specific risks for this procedure, such as infection, bleeding, potential for blood clots, color change of the skin, and nerve damage. Other risks may be associated and usually are due to current medical conditions and medications.
After the Treatment
After the procedure is completed, there may be bruising of the legs, which will go away within a couple of weeks. There are certain instructions that should be followed in order to ensure for proper healing.
- Walk: Walk directly after your procedure and three times daily for 1-2 weeks after the procedure. Walk for at least 15 minutes.
- Ice: Ice can help to reduce swelling by allowing for the vessels to constrict in the legs. Ice should be placed for 15 minutes at a time for 1-2 times each hour while awake during the first couple of days.
- Elevation: When laying or sitting, keep the legs elevated as much as possible. The legs should be elevated above the level of the heart.
- Position Change: Try to avoid standing or sitting for long durations, taking the time to change positions or stretch throughout the day.
- Compression hose: These should compress the legs to help prevent swelling.
How many Treatments are Required?
Typically, only one procedure of EVLT is needed in order to treat varicose veins. The veins can shrink on the legs some, but for those concerned with look of the veins on the leg, other treatments or procedures can be offered to make a more cosmetic appearance.
If the pain from varicose veins in weighing you down, speak with your doctor about your option for endovascular laser therapy and if it is right for you.
Talk to a Vein Specialist
Speak with Dr. Julian Javier, a board certified interventional cardiologist and endovascular specialist in Naples, Florida. He will discuss your medical history, perform a thorough exam, and explain if varicose veins laser therapy is right for you.