For many patients, varicose veins are far more than a cosmetic issue. They sometimes cause throbbing and other discomfort. Fortunately, physicians can offer a number of non-surgical techniques to treat them. One they frequently use is endovenous laser ablation, commonly called EVLA.
As many as 55 percent of American women and 45 percent of men suffer from vein problems, according to Womenshealth.gov. The cause of varicose veins is weak or damaged vein valves. These valves are unable to prevent blood from flowing backward instead of upward toward the heart. Blood leaks back into the vein, a condition known as venous insufficiency, causing the vessel to enlarge and eventually become a varicose vein. In past decades, patients had to undergo painful vein stripping to get rid of these bulging red, blue, or purple blood vessels. Currently, several noninvasive procedures are options to surgery. For individuals whose varicose veins are the result of defective saphenous vein valves, the treatment of choice is EVLA. It is one of two types of endovenous heat ablation. The other type uses radio frequency heat. Interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons commonly perform this vein treatment at a vein clinic on an outpatient basis. The Cleveland Clinic indicates that the goal of the procedure is two-fold: reducing symptoms as well as lowering the risk of complications like blood clots that are linked to venous disease. The path to EVLA treatment begins with a consultation at a vein clinic. If an individual is an approved candidate for this treatment, he or she can expect a local instead of a general anesthetic. The doctor begins the EVLA with the use of ultrasound to guide a tiny laser fiber through the targeted vein, according to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. As the physician withdraws the fiber, it emits heat that causes the vein to close. Neighboring healthy blood vessels naturally pick up the work of the eliminated vein to carry blood from the legs to the heart. In most cases, the treatment lasts less than an hour. Patients are able to resume their normal schedule within a 24-hour period.
The biggest advantage for patients in opting for this type of varicose vein treatment is that it is non-surgical, with few potential complications. Other benefits include:
It is important for prospective patients to realize that no procedure to treat varicose veins will stop the formation of new blood vessels. For this reason, some patients return for additional treatments. Two other common procedures to treat varicose veins are ambulatory phlebectomy and sclerotherapy.