Varicose veins are a common occurrence among adults, affecting both men and women alike. Although many believe that varicose veins happen in elderly patients or unhealthy adults, the reality is that broken down vein walls can lead to painful consequences for nearly anyone. When varicose veins take place, they can and often do lead to more than a cosmetic issue. Individuals can feel ongoing heaviness in their legs, dark blue and purple bulging of veins that itch or swell, or difficulty doing everyday tasks such as exercising or standing for long periods of time.
When varicose veins become a health concern due to these common symptoms, it can be challenging to know which treatment makes the most sense for long-term relief. According to a specialist at a leading vein clinic in the UK, varicose veins treatments range from at-home remedies like compression stockings and elevation of the legs to surgical intervention. While self-directed treatment plans can be beneficial in easing symptoms, they do not address the underlying problem of malfunctioning veins. For this reason, surgical intervention through minimally-invasive endovenous laser therapy for varicose veins is often the preferred course of treatment.
What is Endovenous Laser Therapy?
When varicose veins pose health issues, endovenous laser therapy is often the recommended treatment. Also known as EVLT, the procedure used to treat varicose veins has been used among patients around the world for nearly two decades. The process of receiving EVLT is straightforward and minimally-invasive, with patients requiring only local anaesthesia during the procedure.
EVLT leans on laser heat technology to reduce varicose veins and the symptoms that go hand in hand. A thin beam of light is sent directly to the impacted vein that is meant to close and shrink the vein. The scar tissue caused by the laser treatment seals off the broken vein, allowing blood to flow more easily throughout the body in healthy veins.
Several benefits exist with endovenous laser treatment for varicose veins, including:
- No scarring as there is no surgical incision
- Minimal bruising compared to more invasive surgeries
- Faster recovery and less downtime
- No admission to the hospital is required
- A reduce occurrence of varicose veins in the future
What to Expect Before, During, and After Treatment
Before endovenous laser therapy is performed, an individual suffering from varicose veins will undergo a physical examination from a vein specialist. During this exam, an ultrasound is used to evaluate the severity of the varicose veins and determine if EVLT is the right procedure for treatment. This consultation lasts 30 minutes or less, and an appointment can be made to begin treatment soon after the exam.
On the day of EVLT surgery, patients arrive at the hospital and prepare for the procedure. Affected veins are marked and scanned again with an ultrasound to ensure the correct vein is being worked on during surgery. A small needle is placed into the vein, and local anaesthetic is administered. Once this is complete, the laser is used to draw down on the vein, working to eliminate the broken vein with heat and light. The laser portion of treatment takes three to four minutes per vein, and the end result is a sealed vein that forces blood to move through healthy surrounding veins instead.
After the procedure is done, individuals will have their treated leg bandaged, and they are provided after-care instructions for recovery. No hospital stay is required, but it is recommended that patients have someone available to drive them home from the procedure. After a five-day period, the bandage used to keep the area free from infection is removed and replaced with compression stockings. This helps promote healthy recovery and circulation throughout the treated leg.
As soon as the bandage is removed, individuals can return to normal activities, including exercise. Some may feel tightness in the legs, but that is often treated with a topical gel or pain medication.
Overall, undergoing EVLT for varicose veins is a relatively simple procedure. Patients are in and out of the operating room within 30 minutes in most cases, and total recovery time is a few days. For these reasons, and the successful outcome most patients experience in minimising varicose veins in the legs, endovenous laser treatment is the most effective procedure used for varicose vein patients.
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