Endovenous laser ablation, also known as EVLA or simply as “laser therapy,” treats varicose veins. EVLA is a newer technique that harnesses the power of a laser energy to create intense heat in the diseased vein. This heat closes the varicose vein so that it no longer functions. In time, the destroyed vein breaks apart. Tissue surrounding the vein absorbs the old vein. Your body simply reroutes blood flow to healthy veins nearby.
As compared with other techniques, such as ligation and stripping, many patients discover that undergoing EVLA results in less discomfort and a faster return to a normal lifestyle while providing similar cosmetic results.
Why Vein Doctors Perform Endovenous Laser Ablation
Vein doctors perform endovenous laser ablation to reduce symptoms, including aching and bulging veins, and to reduce the risk for complications from vein disease. Varicose veins and other types of vein disease can cause dangerous blood clots and painful sores known as venous ulcers.
You may benefit from EVLA if you have large varicose veins. EVLA is also an effective treatment for an incompetent saphenous vein, which occurs when the large vein running near the inside surface of your leg from your ankle to your groin does not function well.
EVLA essentially takes the place of vein stripping, an older procedure that involves removing the diseased vein through a hole in your skin. Since endovenous laser ablation leaves the veins in place, the procedure causes minimal bleeding and bruising.
Risks and Potential Complications of EVLA
You and your vascular surgeon will discuss your specific risks and potential benefits of EVLA. Endovenous laser ablation is generally a very safe procedure but, as with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Complications after EVLA may include pain or bruising along the treatment site, the development of a blood clot, and irritation to nerves located near the treated veins.
Your vein doctor will take special precautions to decrease these risks.
What to Expect with EVLA Varicose Vein Treatment
Our vascular surgeons evaluate each patient and individualize a treatment plan according to each patient’s particular circumstances.
A few days before EVLA, you may need to undergo some tests to make sure it is safe for you to have endovenous laser ablation. You might need to discontinue some medications before EVLA. The vein clinic healthcare team will provide specific instructions.
You will receive a sedative and anesthesia before the procedure. Your vein doctor will use an ultrasound to indentify the location of the diseased vein. The doctor will insert a thin flexible tube, known as a catheter, into the vein and inject a solution of salt water and an anesthetic into the vein. The surgeon will then expose the vein to laser energy.
Vein doctors typically perform EVLA at an outpatient vein clinic. Recovery time is quick – you can expect to walk shortly after the procedure before discharge home. You can resume normal activities the next day but you should avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks. While some pain is expected, discomfort is usually mild and short-lived. Wear compression stockings for the week following the procedure to reduce pain, swelling and bruising.