Similar to radiofrequency ablation, in laser ablation a thin fiber is gently inserted through the skin and into the affected vein. This laser fiber heats the vein and causes it to close. After the fiber is withdrawn and the healing process begins, the closed vein is reabsorbed into the body and the blood supply in that area is naturally rerouted through other, healthier veins.
When is this treatment used?
Patients who have large, symptomatic varicose veins and those with incompetent saphenous veins are candidates for laser ablation. This procedure is essentially taking the place of “vein stripping.” Each patient is evaluated, and treatment will be individualized for the patient’s circumstances.
What should I expect from laser ablation?
As a catheter procedure, there are four principal steps of Laser Ablation:
1) Mapping the Saphenous Vein
A typical procedure begins with noninvasive ultrasound imaging of the varicose vein to trace its location. This allows our physician to determine the site where the ablation catheter will be inserted and to mark the desired position of the catheter tip to begin treatment.
2) Inserting the Laser Fiber
Our physician then injects a volume of diluted anesthetic fluid into the area surrounding the vein. This numbs the leg, helps squeeze blood out of the vein, and provides a fluid layer outside the vein to protect surrounding tissue. Then, our physician accesses the saphenous vein or the appropriate vein, inserts the laser fiber, and advances to the uppermost segment of the vein.
3) Delivery of Laser Energy
The laser delivers short bursts of energy and the vein collapses around it, eventually shrinking and disappearing. This technique rapidly treats the veins and takes 10–20 seconds to perform.
4) Follow Up with Ultrasound Study
24–72 hours after your treatment, ultrasound imaging is used to check for a DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
What kind of results are achieved?
The goals of laser ablation are to reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of complications from venous disease, including DVT and blood clots. Compared with ligation and stripping, many patients find that endovenous thermal ablation results in less pain and a faster return to normal activities, yet maintains similar cosmetic results.
What should I do after my laser ablation treatment to ensure vein health?
Exercising, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing will help ensure your vein health following laser ablation. If you notice any new veins or your condition isn't improving, reach out to your CVR doctor. Veins that don't close will be treated again.