What is Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)
This technique is also a minimally invasive treatment option for varicose veins which works on the principle of heat induced damage to the inner lining of the veins. However, the heat generated in this type of treatment is by using laser energy. The catheter (a special narrow tube) is attached to a laser generator which is used to obliterate (close) the faulty vein.
The procedure is often performed under general anaesthetic. An ultrasound scan will be used to mark the veins that require treatment. A small flexible wire will be passed into the vein and a narrow tube (sheath) is passed over this wire and then the laser probe is threaded through the tube. The position of the probe will be checked and further local anaesthetic will be injected around the vein. The generator then creates heat energy to seal the vein from the inside. This takes just a few minutes. Once the vein has been sealed the probe is removed.
What advantage does endovenous treatment have over conventional surgery?
- Normal activity can be resumed straight away and you should be able to return to work within a few days after the procedure
- Removes the need for a groin incision, leaves fewer scars and less potential for complications such as wound infection and pain following surgery.
- Shown to cause much less pain and bruising than conventional surgery.
What are the potential complications of endovenous treatment?
- Some patients have bruising and tenderness that lasts longer than a week. This bruising is more common if you have had varicose veins removed through surgical incisions at the same time as the endovenous treatment.
- It is not uncommon for some discomfort to develop around the obliterated vein between 5 and 10 days after the procedure due to inflammation. If this occurs you may require anti-inflammatory tablets such as ibuprofen (unless there are contraindications).
- Some patients experience numbness in the leg after endovenous treatment and this is usually temporary, although it can be permanent.
- There is a small risk of skin burns from the catheter.
- As with any surgical procedure there is a small risk (1:1000) of blood clots forming in the deep leg veins (DVT), although this is less common than with conventional surgery.