Today, lasers are one of the most popular ways to eliminate varicose veins. Learn more about laser ablation treatments below.
Since the early 2000s, laser ablation therapy has become one of the go-to methods to treat varicose veins. The technique has replaced the invasive vein stripping and ligation surgery of the past that required general anesthesia and a lengthy hospital stay and recovery.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “How safe is laser ablation, and how effective is it in eliminating painful, swollen veins?”
According to one study, laser ablation treatments have a success rate of 95 percent. Although your vein specialist can provide more detail about the procedure, here’s a general rundown of laser therapy and what you can expect.
What is laser therapy?
Laser ablation is also known as endovenous laser therapy and is usually reserved for larger, symptomatic varicose veins.
On the day of the procedure, you will be asked to avoid taking any blood thinners or aspirin. Your doctor will recommend that you wear loose-fitting clothes to your appointment, but aside from that, your prep for the procedure is minimal.
Endovenous laser therapy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that requires only a tiny incision. It is performed in a comfortable CVR office setting.
The doctor will begin the procedure by numbing the area around the varicose vein with a local anesthetic. The anesthesia also squeezes blood from the vein, creating a fluid layer around the vein that protects the surrounding tissue.
Once the area is numb, the doctor will insert a catheter into the vein. At the tip of the catheter is the laser, which emits intermittent beams of thermal light. The heat forms scar tissue within the vein to seal it shut. The catheter is then withdrawn from the vein. Eventually, the treated vein is absorbed into the body as blood diverts to nearby healthier veins. Over time, the varicose vein disappears.
The procedure typically takes less than an hour to complete. Because of the anesthesia, it’s best to have someone drive you home following the treatment if possible. Afterward, you can resume your regular activities with few restrictions. Avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for at least a week.
What are the risks?
Laser ablation carries only slight risks. There is a minimal chance of a blood clot, so your doctor will perform an ultrasound 24 to 72 hours after the procedure to check for a clot.
It’s normal to have minor discomfort after the procedure. You may experience slight bruising and temporary tenderness at the treatment site as the vein dissolves. Over-the-counter medication can help relieve the pain.
Your doctor may also recommend wearing compression stockings for a few days following the procedure to reduce swelling. The tight elastic in these garments gently compresses the veins to keep blood flowing smoothly. Although strenuous activity is not recommended for a week or so, you are encouraged to walk to promote healing. Staying active also prevents blood clots.
Laser therapy has been used successfully for decades to treat varicose veins. Ultimately, the benefits of pain-free legs outweigh the minor risks and discomfort associated with the procedure.
Learn more from the vein specialists
Are you thinking about laser ablation to rid yourself of the pain from varicose veins? The doctors at Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) have been performing this procedure for many years. They can help you navigate your vein treatment journey from diagnosis to recovery.
Contact one of our offices today for a consultation, or call 1-800-FIX-LEGS to speak to a dedicated Patient Services Representative. You can also easily schedule online.