If you suffer from painful, visible varicose veins, you may be interested in learning more about Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT). This minimally invasive, office-based vein treatment is widely considered to be the gold standard of varicose vein treatments.
Varicose veins are caused by underlying vein disease or venous insufficiency. This occurs when tiny, one-way vein valves become damaged and are unable to efficiently carry blood back to your heart. Instead, blood flows backward, pooling in the veins. This can stretch, expand, or twist the vein, impairing blood circulation.
Endovenous Laser Treatment can alleviate painful, uncomfortable, and visible vein symptoms like leg swelling, cramping, aching, itching and skin discoloration as well as the bulging appearance. It can also reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions like venous ulcers (open, non-healing sores) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
At USA Vein Clinics, we specialize in performing Endovenous Laser Treatment and a range of other non-surgical vein treatments. Below, we discuss what to expect before, during, and after EVLT. For additional questions, please consult a vein specialist.
What Is Endovenous Laser Treatment?
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), also known as Endovenous Laser Ablation, is a minimally invasive, office-based treatment for varicose veins. It uses ultrasound guidance to direct laser energy into diseased, malfunctioning veins. Once laser energy is delivered, the targeted veins collapse and seal closed. Afterward, blood flow is redirected to healthy, surrounding veins.
What to Expect During Endovenous Laser Treatment
When you arrive for treatment, rest assured that you are in good hands with our team of experts. After being escorted into a treatment room, one of our vein specialists will numb your leg with local anesthesia so that you remain comfortable throughout your visit. Next, they will use real-time ultrasound imaging to insert a tiny laser fiber into the targeted vein. Then, laser energy will be applied, causing the vein to collapse.
Before EVLT, you should avoid shaving or moisturizing treatment areas. We also recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment. While you are welcome to bring along a companion for support, most patients can drive themselves home. In some areas, your companion may need to wait in the car due to pandemic restrictions.
EVLT takes less than an hour, from arrival to departure. The actual treatment takes only 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how many veins are involved. After treatment, you can leave immediately and resume most normal activities.
Benefits of Endovenous Laser Treatment
In the past, invasive varicose vein surgery, also known as vein stripping surgery, was one of the only ways to treat painful veins. During this procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision near the affected area to administer anesthesia. Then, they carefully open your skin, tie off the painful veins, and remove or “strip” them.
Unlike recovery from Endovenous Laser Therapy for varicose veins, recovery from varicose vein surgery can be painful and lengthy, taking between two and four weeks. The majority of patients treated with EVLT can return to most normal activities immediately following treatment.
Varicose vein surgery is now rarely available in the U.S. because of the high cost, associated pain, and lengthy recovery time involved. Minimally invasive vein treatment techniques, including Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT), have replaced it.
There are many benefits to receiving Endovenous Laser Therapy. Most notably, many of our patients report an improved quality of life. Additional benefits from EVLT include:
- Effective at eliminating painful symptoms
- You can return to daily activities immediately after treatment
- Performed in an outpatient clinic
- No scarring or stitches
- Hospitalization is unnecessary
- Decreases your risk of DVT
- Involves little downtime, if any
- Improved appearance of visible veins
- Offers up to a 98% success rate
Any post-procedure discomfort from Endovenous Laser Treatment is usually brief and can be managed with over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. Prescription painkillers are rarely needed.
After Endovenous Laser Ablation, you should be able to more comfortably stand or sit for longer periods. This may allow you to enjoy activities that you previously avoided. Additionally, if you have avoided wearing shorts and shirts due to visible leg veins, you may be more comfortable doing so after treatment with an endovenous laser for varicose veins.
Is Endovenous Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins Safe?
Endovenous laser therapy has been proven safe and effective for treating symptoms of vein disease in the lower legs and ankles. EVLT is FDA-approved and has been widely performed since the early 2000s. It is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.
Laser treatment for varicose veins involves far fewer risks than surgical treatment. Although EVLT is not surgery, we want you to be aware that there is always some risk associated with any medical procedure. Serious complications for EVLT are rare, but some patients may experience skin burns, discoloration, or nerve damage.
You can reduce your risk for complications by following your doctor’s activity, diet, and lifestyle recommendations prior to treatment, during recovery, and beyond. Additionally, inform your specialist of all medications and supplements that you are taking.
What to Ask Your Vein Specialist Before Choosing Endovenous Laser Treatment
Whether you are considering Endovenous Laser Treatment or another type of varicose vein treatment, you can get started with a visit to one of our highly experienced vein specialists. During an initial consultation, we can answer all of your treatment questions. Your specialist can recommend a personalized treatment plan by the end of your visit.
Some questions that you may want to ask about EVLT include:
- What results can I expect?
- What risks are associated with treatment?
- What is the success rate of EVLT?
- How many treatments do you think I’ll need?
- How should I prepare for EVLT?
- Is the cost of treatment covered by insurance?
While Endovenous Laser Treatment is highly effective, keep in mind that sometimes multiple sessions are required to achieve desired results. In some cases, EVLT may be combined with other minimally invasive vein treatment techniques to achieve desired results.
Endovenous Laser Treatment Recovery
Recovery from Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) is usually rapid and without complications. During the first several days after your procedure, you will be encouraged to walk around as much as possible. This helps to boost circulation, prevent blood clot formation, and reduce swelling during recovery.
Some patients may experience temporary bruising, tenderness, tightening, swelling, burning, and redness in treated areas. These effects should resolve within one to two weeks. You may also notice a pink or clear fluid on your bandages as you heal.
To promote healing after EVLT, your vein doctor may recommend:
Compression socks: Our patients are asked to wear compression socks for at least the first 24 hours after Endovenous Laser Treatment. Talk to your doctor about how long is best for your case. Some patients are advised to use compression socks as a preventive measure for future vein issues, especially when standing or sitting for long periods.
Physical activity: Although you can resume most daily activities right after treatment from endovenous laser for varicose veins, you should avoid standing for long periods of time, air travel, and strenuous physical exercise for two weeks. Walk as much as you can during the first three days after treatment, but don’t overdo it by going on long, strenuous hikes. Short, frequent activity sessions (10 to 15 minutes every hour) are best to promote rapid healing.
Bathing: It is important to keep your catheter insertion site completely dry for 48 hours following EVLT treatment. To reduce the risk of infection and keep your veins from dilating, you should also avoid immersion in bathtubs, hot tubs, and pools for seven to 10 days.
When to Contact the Doctor After Endovenous Laser Therapy
Our vein doctors generally recommend a follow-up appointment within a week of an EVLT procedure. During this visit, we can check in on post-treatment healing by performing an exam and ultrasound to rule out any problems, such as the presence of blood clots. We can also assess ongoing symptoms to determine whether further treatment may be necessary.
Be sure to seek immediate medical care if you experience any of the following after EVLT:
- High fever
- Swelling that gets worse
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Severe pain that keeps you from completing your daily activities
- Signs of infection in the treated area, such as warmth, bleeding, redness, or fluid discharge
EVLT Frequently Asked Questions
Is EVLT painful?
Most patients experience little to no pain during an EVLT session. Some patients experience minor discomfort when the targeted vein is first accessed. This can feel similar to getting an IV placed.
Who is a good candidate for the procedure?
Most individuals with varicose veins are good candidates for EVLT. However, treatment is not appropriate for individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have serious obstructions in their deep venous system.
Should I shave my leg before the EVLT procedure?
You should avoid shaving your legs within 72 hours of the procedure. Shaving can increase the risk of a post-procedure skin infection.
Can I eat prior to the procedure?
You can enjoy a light meal before EVLT. It is also a good idea to increase your fluid intake with water and other caffeine-free beverages. This can make it easier for your vein specialist to access your veins.
Can I return to work after the procedure?
Most patients can return to work or other activities immediately following the procedure.
Could my varicose veins go away on their own?
Unfortunately, varicose veins do not just go away on their own. Although lifestyle improvements may help reduce venous symptoms and prevent additional varicose veins from developing, only vein treatment can address the underlying cause: your vein disease.
Can varicose veins come back after EVLT?
Since EVLT has a high success rate, the likelihood of varicose veins returning after treatment is very low. Your vein doctor can continue to monitor your vein health over time.
Schedule Endovenous Laser Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
Our leading vein specialists truly want to make a difference in our patient’s lives. Our goal is to improve your quality of life through safe, effective and affordable methods. If you suffer from varicose veins due to chronic venous insufficiency, laser treatment may be right for you.
At USA Vein Clinics, we offer EVLT and a range of minimally invasive, office-based vein treatments. Our other nonsurgical treatments include ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, ClariVein®, Varithena vein treatment, and the VenaSeal™ closure system.
Schedule an initial consultation with one of our leading vein specialists today for personalized treatment recommendations. We offer over 100 clinic locations nationwide, along with convenient virtual doctor visits. EVLT is covered by most major health insurance plans. Give us a call at 888.768.3467 to discuss your plan’s coverage details.
 Nwaejike, N., P.D. Srodon, and C. Kyriakides. “5-Years of Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) for the Treatment of Varicose Veins – a Prospective Study.” International Journal of Surgery. Elsevier, May 14, 2009. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1743919109000685.
 Go, Seung Je, Byung Sun Cho, Yun Su Mun, Yoon Jung Kang, and Hye Young Ahn. “Study on the Long-Term Results of Endovenous Laser Ablation for Treating Varicose Veins.” The International journal of angiology : official publication of the International College of Angiology, Inc. Thieme Medical Publishers, June 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870064/&sa=D&source=docs&ust=164382664