Laser endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which varicose veins are exposed to heat from a laser which causes them to shrink, collapse, and eventually heal into scar tissue. The varicose veins and spider veins treated with endovenous ablation are considered superficial veins, therefore the blood flow is redirected when they die off.
A catheter is used to open a pathway and an ultrasound is used to guide the insertion of a laser tip into the vein. Heat from the laser effectively cauterizes the varicose vein, while also treating underlying veins that cause the development of varicosities. The type of laser used varies depending on the vascular specialist performing the procedure. Examples of lasers used for laser endovenous ablation include EVLT™, CTEV™, ELT™, and ELVeS™.
Laser Endovenous Ablation: An Overview
How It Works: Laser endovenous ablation works by sealing off varicose veins resulting in redirected blood flow through properly functioning veins.
What It Treats: This treatment is used to treat varicose veins and the underlying veins that cause varicosities to develop.
Pros: Laser endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive, relatively simple treatment. It requires only a local anesthetic and little to no downtime after the procedure.
Cons: Additional treatment methods such as sclerotherapy or phlebectomy may be required.
Alternatives: Endovenous radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy, phlebectomy, and surgical ligation and stripping are alternative treatments that may be used instead of or in conjunction with laser endovenous ablation to effectively treat varicose veins.
Type of Procedure: The procedure is done on an outpatient basis, and is often performed in a doctor’s office setting. The typical treatment takes about one hour to perform and is done under local anesthesia.
Recovery Process: Recovery is immediate for the vast majority of individuals. The use of compression stockings aid in recovery.
Results: Within one weeks’ time the results of the procedure should be easily visible.
Side Effects: Swelling of the vein is a common side effect of endovenous ablation; wearing a compression stocking will help minimize swelling. Rarely problems with blood clotting and nerve damage may occur.
Cost/Insurance: Consult your health care practitioner and insurance provider to verify cost and coverage of any vein treatments.
Consult Your Doctor: You should bring any documents necessary to give your doctor an accurate medical history, including recent illnesses and any allergies that you have. Make a list of the medications and supplements that you are currently taking as well as the symptoms that you are feeling. Write down any questions that you have ahead of time and bring them with you. Make sure you understand your doctor’s answers.