Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins: What You Need to Know
For decades, the only treatment for unsightly and uncomfortable varicose veins was an invasive surgery known as vein stripping. Fortunately, options for managing vein disease have advanced significantly in recent years. One of the most effective is laser treatment for varicose veins. This procedure relies on a highly focused beam of light to close unhealthy vessels. It is minimally invasive, and you can return to your normal routine within a day or two.
Laser treatment for varicose veins can be done at your vein treatment clinic. There is no need for hospitalization. Depending on the number of vessels being treated, the procedure can be completed in under an hour. Your vein doctor in New York or vein doctor in New Jersey can help you determine whether this option is right for you.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Your arteries carry oxygenated blood from your lungs to the rest of your body. Once all of the oxygen has been delivered, veins move the blood back to your heart, which pushes it to the lungs for a new oxygen supply. These hard-working vessels have to work against gravity when transporting blood from your feet and legs, so a system of tiny one-way valves are in place to ensure there is no backflow.
When the valves in your veins become diseased or damaged, blood can leak through. It pools in the lower half of your body, increasing pressure on the vein walls. Veins become swollen and twisted, and they begin to protrude against your skin. This is what you are seeing when you notice varicose veins. The saphenous vein, which carries blood from your feet to the top of your thighs, is at particular risk for this issue. It is very close to the surface of your skin.
Spider veins have the same underlying cause, but they look a little bit different. Instead of the thick, swollen, bulges of varicose veins, you will notice networks of thin purple, blue, and red lines just beneath the surface of your skin.
As extra blood collects in the lower half of your body, the increased pressure causes damage to more of your valves. This progressive condition is referred to as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Unfortunately, CVI is underdiagnosed, and many patients don’t receive the treatment they need to manage the disease. Your vein doctor in NY or vein doctor in NJ specializes in identifying and correcting vein disease before your symptoms become more serious.
What are the Symptoms of Vein Disease?
Varicose veins and spider veins may be the most obvious signs of CVI, but there are a number of other symptoms that can cause you discomfort. Leg cramps are very common, especially at night, and you may notice aching, throbbing, weakness, or heaviness in your legs.
Swelling is of particular concern, because it can lead to a variety of additional issues. Skin on your legs and ankles starts to feel itchy, then it thickens and becomes discolored as the disease progresses. If left untreated, you can develop Venous Stasis Dermatitis, putting you at risk for cellulitis and other serious medical conditions.
Who is at Risk for Vein Disease?
Some of the risk factors for vein disease are outside your control. For example, you are at higher risk if you have a family history of varicose veins. You may also be at risk if you have had blood clots, an injury to your legs, or cancer. Varicose veins are an unfortunate reality for many pregnant women, and CVI is also more likely for women going through menopause.
Other risk factors are based on your lifestyle. Individuals who are overweight or obese have a greater likelihood of developing CVI, as do people who smoke. Spending a lot of time standing or sitting can also contribute to the problem, because inactivity increases the pressure in your veins.
How Does Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins Work?
Endovenous laser treatment for varicose veins uses laser energy to close unhealthy vessels. This procedure is typically referred to as Endоvеnоuѕ Laser Ablаtіоn (EVLA). It is minimally invasive and takes less than an hour of your time.
The first step is to numb the area being treated, so you don’t experience any pain during the procedure. Your physician uses a local anesthetic, so you don’t have to undergo general anesthesia. Relying on an ultrasound for guidance, a thin laser fiber is inserted into the unhealthy vessel. Then, laser energy is applied to permanently seal the vein. Your blood is automatically rerouted to other, healthier veins. Eventually, tissue from the treated vein is reabsorbed by your body, and all signs of the varicose veins and spider veins are gone.
How Long Does Recovery from Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins Take?
Once the procedure is complete, you can resume walking and other basic activities right away. However, you should avoid strenuous exercise and long periods of sitting or standing until you have fully recovered. Your vein doctor will ask you to wear compression stockings for about a week to support healthy circulation, and you will return for a follow-up visit to confirm that the treated vein is closed.
Are There Other Vein Disease Treatments?
Laser treatment for varicose veins is a popular choice, because it has been shown to be effective in 97 percent of cases. The risk of complications is quite low, and most patients do not experience pain or discomfort during the procedure. However, if this option isn’t quite right for you, your vein specialist may suggest an alternative. Other minimally invasive techniques for closing unhealthy veins include the following:
- Sclerotherapy – a medical injection
- Radiofrequency Ablаtіоn (RFA) – thermal energy
- VеnаSеаl – vein glue
- Clarivein – rotating wire
All of these can be done in your physician’s office, and they have all been proven effective and virtually pain-free. Your vein doctor will help you choose the best method for your specific needs.