What is Endovenous Laser Ablation?
Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLT) is a treatment for varicose veins. EVLT uses laser energy to create intense heat in the varicose vein. Heat closes the diseased blood vessel so the varicose vein collapses, leaving behind smooth, healthy looking skin. Nearby tissue eventually absorbs the collapsed vein and reroutes blood through other healthier veins.
Vein doctors perform EVLA at a vein clinic. A surgeon performs the procedure by inserting a thin flexible tube, known as a catheter, into the affected vein. The vascular surgeon inserts a laser fiber into the catheter then applies laser heat as she pulls the fiber slowly out of the varicose vein to close it. The doctor leaves the treated veins in place, so there is minimal bleeding and bruising.
Patients who undergo EVLT have no scar but enjoy considerably less discomfort and a faster recovery than with ligation and stripping.
What is the Goal of EVLT?
The goal of EVLT is to reduce the appearance and occasional discomfort of varicose veins. EVLT can also reduce the risk of complications associated with vein disease, including blood clots. EVLA replaces “vein stripping,” a surgical procedure that removes varicose veins.
Who Performs EVLT?
Vascular surgeons perform this varicose vein treatment in qualified vein clinics. Vein doctors evaluate each patient and create a personalized treatment plan for each client.
What are the risks and potential complications of EVLT?
Your surgeon will discuss your specific risks and possible complications of EVLT and help you weigh these against the benefits of the benefits. EVLT is generally a very safe procedure, but as with any procedure, there are risks that can include bruising or pain at the treatment site, the development of a blood clot in the treated leg, and irritation to the nerves near the treated veins. Your doctor will take special precautions to reduce these risks.
How do I prepare for EVLT?
Preparation is easy and in most cases, you can continue your usual routine, including medications and activity before and after the procedure. You may undergo testing before EVLT to make sure you are a candidate for the procedure. Your surgeon may provide other special instructions to help you prepare for EVLT and the best possible outcome.
What happens during EVLT?
Your doctor will give you a local anesthetic. Using ultrasound guidance to pinpoint the location of the weakened vein, your surgeon inserts a thin flexible tube, known as a catheter, into the varicose vein. The doctor injects a solution along the length of the vein to be treated then uses the power of laser light to heat and collapse the diseased vein. The procedure itself generally takes 30 minutes.
What happens after the procedure?
You can expect to go home soon after the procedure. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to follow to help your incisions heal, such as elevating the treated leg and wearing compression hose. Full recover takes one to two weeks.
Compared with ligation and stripping, many patients find that EVLT results in less pain and a faster return to normal activities, while avoiding scars.