Endovenous Laser Ablation – Procedure, Treatment, and Recovery

Some people have an abnormal formation of veins that become clearly visible in the legs. These varicose veins are larger and can be identified by their typical zigzag formation. Sometimes, the veins are tightly interwoven. The valve inside of the veins starts leaking blood backward and consequently blood pools in the legs due to gravity. This can pose some health risks in some patients. To cure this, doctors perform endovenous laser ablation. Generally, the patients are completely relieved from the formation of veins.

Causes of Varicose Veins

There are many reasons for people developing varicose veins. Some patients may inherit the problem from their parents. But usually, the type of occupation is seen as a chief reason. Most people whose job compels them to stand for long hours such as hair stylists, nurses, teachers, and factory workers can have varicose veins. Hormonal influences during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause and the use of birth control pills can also be a reason in some patients.

If you have a history of blood clots, you may get such veins. In other cases, even tightness in the abdomen, constipation, tumors can also lead to forming of varicose veins. Injury to the skin and exposure to ultraviolet rays are amongst other reasons.

Preparation for Endovenous Laser Treatment

Before undergoing endovenous laser ablation procedure, tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. If you have allergies even to local anesthetic medicines, let your doctor know about it. You will be asked to stop taking any blood thinner medicines such as aspirin.

Procedure and treatment of varicose veins

For treatment of varicose veins, the doctors use the vascular catheter, ultrasound machine, radio-frequency electrode, and console. A catheter is a thin, long but smaller tube of about 1/8 inch in diameter.

The ultrasound scanners have a computer and other electronics, a video display screen. To do the scanning, it also has a transducer, which is a hand-held device resembling to microphone. The job of a transducer is to send high-frequency sound waves into the body. It then listens for the echoes returning from the body tissues. This ultrasound image is visible instantly on the video display screen to the physician.

Endovenous laser ablation uses laser energy or radio frequency to burn or cauterized the varicose veins and then closes them. So, endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive and an image-guided treatment of the veins.

The doctor uses ultrasound to see the varicose veins. Then, a radio frequency electrode or a laser is inserted through to the desired spot within the vein. As a next step, the affected vessel is heated by applying the laser or radio-frequency energy. This procedure causes the vessel to close. Due to the procedure, that particular vein location will shrink.

A specially trained interventional radiologist performs endovenous laser ablation, which is an image-guided and minimally invasive procedure. Mostly, the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis. But in some cases, the patients may be required admission.

Before the procedure starts, the physician may apply a topical anesthetic cream over the affected vein area. This will reduce the discomfort for the patient. The leg area will be first cleaned and sterilized and it is covered with a surgical drape. The leg area will be numbed. It is through this area that the physician will insert the catheter into the abnormal vein on applying a local anesthetic. The physician will use the ultrasound transducers or wand to track the path and study the vein.

Once the exact affected area is located, a small incision is made on the skin on that site. The radio frequency electrode or the laser fiber is guided through the catheter. Then the tip of the electrode or the fiber is exposed when the physician pulls the catheter back. Then, radio-frequency energy or laser is applied when withdrawing the catheter. The opening of the skin is then covered with a bandage.

This procedure generally takes an hour to complete.

There are almost no risks in taking up the option of endovenous laser ablation. This is a non-surgical procedure that resolves the problem immediately.

Varicose Veins Surgery Recovery

The patient can resume routine activities right away after the procedure is over. However, some patients are advised to take medicines for pain relief. There may be some bruising in the thigh but goes in 1-2 weeks.

However, as the vein is in a healing process, resuming an exercise routine is not advisable for around two weeks. So, avoid running, cycling, and weightlifting etc. activities post procedure. Only some modified workout is recommended.

Some patients may feel tightness and a sensation of pulling around the treated area, but that is normal and expected. Know that veins are flexible prior to the treatment. But after the procedure, the vein becomes a scar tissue and it contracts. This discomfort may continue for 1-4 weeks but gradually diminishes over time.