Depending on the severity of a patient’s varicose veins, there are various methods of appropriate treatment. For those with large varicose veins that cause symptoms such as pain, feelings of heaviness and tiredness in the legs, swelling, and leg ulcers, a procedure called “Endovascular Laser Ablation” is a popular therapy that, for many, can take the place of vein stripping surgery.
Vein stripping consists of removing the affected veins that are incompetent or causing symptoms in the patient. Endovascular laser ablation is a newer technique that uses a laser to create intense, localized heat in the varicose vein, which closes it off and allows the body to absorb it over time. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms of varicose veins, and to reduce the risk of complications from vein disease, including blood clots.
The heat from the laser is directed via a catheter to close the specific vein. Closing off problematic veins but leaving them in place equates to minimal bleeding and bruising for the patient. Closing the veins also reduces pressure on smaller varicose veins.
The procedure is less invasive compared to stripping surgery. Instead of involving incisions, endovascular laser ablation only uses needle punctures. The less invasive nature of this therapy allows the patient to return to normal activities soon after the procedure, and results in less pain and similar cosmetic results compared to stripping surgery.
Normal activities can be resumed, including work, in 1 to 2 days after the procedure. Any residual pain is controllable with over-the-counter pain medication. Resume daily activities as soon as possible, and follow your vein specialist’s instructions for recovery time. Your legs may look and feel better immediately, but some patients need 1 - 2 weeks to see improvement.
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