The Advantages Of EVLT Over Varicose Vein Surgery
If you have varicose veins, you’re not alone — about 15% of men and 25% of women will develop the condition at some point in their lives. While varicose veins are sometimes considered merely a cosmetic issue, they can produce symptoms including discomfort, itching, skin discoloration, and a sensation of heaviness or aching in the legs. They also make you more likely to develop conditions such as ulcers and blood clots.
If you’re tired of living with the discomfort of varicose veins, you will want to know more about your treatment options, and which may be right for you. Read on for a closer look at why varicose vein surgery (sometimes called varicose vein stripping or vein stripping and ligation) has been replaced by more convenient, less-invasive treatments like EVLT.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Your veins are part of your body’s circulatory system. They carry blood back to the heart while arteries carry it away from the heart into the rest of your body. The strength of your heart’s pumping mechanism is enough to push the blood through your arteries, but your veins must work against gravity to return blood to your heart. They contain tiny valves to help move the blood in the right direction. When these valves are weak or damaged, however, blood can flow backward, pooling in the vein. This can stretch, expand or twist the vein, which impairs blood circulation.
Varicose Vein Surgery: What It Entails
In the past, varicose vein surgery was one of the only ways to treat painful veins. During this procedure, your specialist will make a small incision near the affected area to administer a general anesthesia. They will then carefully open your skin, tie off the painful veins, and then remove or “strip” them. Afterward, expect a recovery of one to four weeks.
This procedure is now rarely available in the U.S. because of the high cost and pain and recovery time involved. Newer techniques like Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT) have replaced it.
Vein Stripping Vs. Laser Ablation Therapy: a Simple Choice
Unlike surgery that requires vein stripping, EVLT is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses ultrasound, lasers and catheters to treat varicose veins. Your doctor uses ultrasound to see the vein to be treated and then guides a catheter with a laser on its end through the vein. The laser heats the walls of the vein, causing it to close and stopping the blood flow. After the procedure, your circulation improves because blood is no longer flowing through the treated vein, which eventually shrinks.
Compared to surgical treatment for varicose veins, EVLT can be conducted in about an hour depending on the number of veins affected. You should be able to return to normal activities a few days after the procedure. There may be some discomfort immediately following treatment. This is nothing to worry and should subside as your body recovers. Bruising and swelling commonly occurs after the procedure but should be bothersome. You can take OTC pain medications to reduce any unwanted post-procedure symptoms.
After a few weeks, once your body has had a chance to fully recover, you will see the doctor again for a follow-up. At this appointment they will use an ultrasound to see how your veins responded to the treatment. The doctor will also use the ultrasound to determine if any additional treatment is needed.
Compassionate, Experienced Physicians for All Your Vein Health Needs
Do you have questions about EVLT or other treatments for varicose veins? Our experienced, compassionate doctors specialize in various vein treatment methods. From the doctors to the front desk administrators, everyone at USA Vein Clinics wants to help you find lasting relief from the painful symptoms of vein disease.