Throughout the centuries, major open surgical treatments have given way to the latest, state-of-the-art minimally invasive approaches. Previously, the only treatment option available for venous insufficiency was a major surgery called vein stripping, an invasive procedure with a long recovery that tended to fail after a few years. A new treatment has been developed by interventional radiologists, doctors who are experts in ultrasound imaging and specialize in minimally invasive treatments.
EndoVenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT) is an outpatient procedure performed using ultrasound imaging guidance. Instead of pulling the vein out as was done in vein stripping, the problematic vein is heat sealed shut from the inside using a laser tip, all through an opening in the skin not much larger than needed for a typical IV. After administering local anesthetic to the area and getting venous access, the interventional radiologist inserts a catheter into the vein and uses ultrasound to expertly guide it up the vein in the leg to a precise location.
After numbing the area around the vein, laser energy is applied to the inside of the vein, heating the vein and sealing it closed. Once the diseased veins are closed, the blood is rerouted to normal, healthy deep veins and the pain and symptoms start to disappear.
EVLT takes roughly 45 minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia. It involves minimal pain, no scarring, quick recovery and immediate return to normal activity.
Benefits of Vein Ablation Treatment
- Minimally invasive– no surgical incision, no visible scars
- High success rate and low recurrence compared to surgery- success rate for vein ablation ranges from 93-99%
- Extremely safe with very low complication rate
- Minimal recovery time– patients are encouraged to walk and resume most normal activities the same day
- Covered by nearly all insurance plans
- Takes less than an hour
- Performed in a comfortable outpatient office setting
- No general anesthesia or sedation required for most patients
What are the possible complications of EVLT?
Complications are rare, but can occur even when the procedure is technically successful. Such complications include severe bruising, prolonged redness and/or tenderness around the puncture sites or over the treated vein, infection of the puncture site (thrombophlebitis), clots extending into the important deep veins (deep vein thrombosis), numbness and paresthesias, and burning of the skin.