Traditionally, varicose vein treatment has been painful surgery (called ligation and stripping). Now, endovenous laser treatment (EVLT�) provides a proven, minimally-invasive alternative that allows patients to return to their everyday lives immediately.
Nearly 25% of women and 15% of men suffer from lower extremity venous insufficiency and associated visible varicose veins. Primary risk factors include heredity, gender, pregnancy, and age. Most of these patients have long-standing leg symptoms which compromise their daily routines, with symptoms worsening during the day while they are on the job or simply living their lives. Without varicose vein treatment, these symptoms can progress to a life-style limiting condition.
Varicose veins (and sometimes spider veins) are usually a symptom of chronic venous insufficiency, a disease that causes blood to flow backward in the veins, making them bulge and twist down the leg. Venous insufficiency (also called venous reflux) can occur throughout the venous system, but occurs most frequently in the great saphenous vein, small saphenous vein, and other veins of the superficial venous system in the lower legs.
How does the procedure actually work?
A laser fiber is fired inside and along the length of your faulty, varicose vein. The laser energy damages the vein walls, shrinking them closed so that blood can no longer flow through.
What are the side-effects and complications of this procedure?
EVLT�, like all minimally invasive procedures, can potentially have some slight bruising, which commonly disappears within the first few weeks. With EVLT�, you will feel a delayed tightness (or "pulling" sensation) 4-7 days after laser treatment which is normal and expected following a successful treatment.
What are the alternatives to this treatment?
Surgery is the traditional treatment, which can be quite painful and often result in longer recovery times. It involves anesthesia, leaves a scar and has a high recurrence rate. Other alternatives include ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (injection therapy) and radio frequency electrosurgery. Injection therapy for the saphenous vein has a high recurrence rate frequently requiring retreatment and is generally limited to smaller varicose and spider veins. Radiofrequency electrosurgery is more limited in the range of patients it can treat and the treatment time is longer than EVLT�.
How successful is EVLT�?
Clinical data with up to 5 years of follow-up show success rates of 93-98%. This is much higher than surgical ligation and stripping, radiofrequency electrosurgery, and injection sclerotherapy. Market researchers predict that, based on its superior efficacy and lower morbidity, endovenous laser treatment will soon become the new 'gold standard'.