Endovenous laser treatment

Another procedure which is minimally invasive and is well suited to dealing with large varicose veins. It is both quick and effective and relatively painless.

It is carried out in a day and under a local anaesthetic although there may be cases where a general anaesthesia is needed.

This procedure uses a laser to heat and close damaged superficial veins. This causes the veins to shrink and eventually disappear.

The endovenous laser procedure

The term "endovenous" means within the vein: this refers to the fact that this treatment involves the use of a laser inside a vein rather than externally as seen in similar types of treatment.

You will be asked to wear a pair of goggles to protect your eyes against the laser beam during the procedure.

The specialist will apply a topical anaesthetic – this is a local anaesthetic gel which is applied to the skin and helps to numb the area. There will be a short wait until this has fully taken effect.

A catheter (slim tube) is inserted into the damaged vein which is guided into place using an ultrasound scan. A thin, fibre optic laser is then inserted into the catheter and moved until it is sat at the top of the vein.

This laser is then pulled through the vein.

Short pulses of energy are emitted from the laser into the vein which causes it to heat up and damages the inner walls. Scar tissue forms in these walls.

The walls of the vein shrink which causes it to close. It is no longer able to transport blood towards the heart which is then re-routed into healthy looking veins. The sealed vein gradually disappears over time.

The laser is then removed and a light dressing applied to your treated leg. A compression bandage is placed over this.

This procedure takes around 30 minutes to an hour.

Recovery after endovenous laser treatment

You will experience a tight feeling in your leg and some minor soreness and bruising. This is entirely normal and will ease after a short period of time. Wearing compression stockings can help to ease any discomfort.

Over the counter painkillers can help.

It is a good idea to move around as much as you can after this treatment. You will be encouraged to do so try and walk around and engage in other physical activities. But avoid very intense exercise or lifting heavy weights for a few weeks.

You will be able to return to work the next day.

Advantages of endovenous laser treatment

The main advantage of this treatment is the minimising or removal of your varicose veins in a quick and painless manner. There is no scarring with this procedure.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved blood circulation
  • Reduced risk of leg ulcers
  • Disappearance of the symptoms of varicose veins e.g. aches and pains.
  • Quick recovery period
  • Reduced risk of post-operative complications

Plus there is the fact that your legs will look and feel better after this treatment. This improvement in your appearance will also help boost your confidence.

Disadvantages of endovenous laser treatment

There is always a risk of side effects or complications with any form of treatment. The risks with endovenous laser treatment are rare but it is as well to be aware of these when considering whether to have this procedure.

The risks include:

  • Numbness in the treated are
  • Soreness and reddening of the skin
  • Bruising
  • Small risk of recurrence
  • Infection (very rare)
  • Deep vein thrombosis (very rare)
  • Burns or brown marks (hyperpigmentation) on the skin (very rare).
  • Perforated vein (very rare)
  • Allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic (very rare)

These risks will be discussed by the specialist with you before the procedure. It is important that you understand about risk of complications as well as the benefits before agreeing to this treatment.

This applies to any treatment for varicose veins. 

Guide to Varicose Veins

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