Laser Treatments for Varicose Veins

laser.therapyIn order to accurately diagnose varicose veins, a doctor will use ultrasound to examine the vein to determine whether and to what extent an insufficiency exists.  Venous insufficiency is the most common cause of varicose veins.  Once diagnosed, the doctor will discuss treatment options with you.  Treatment options include endovenous laser treatment and surface laser treatment (medical professionals, see how to offer these laser therapies here).

Endovenous Laser Treatment

This treatment takes about 30-45 minutes and can be performed in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia.  Recovery time is negligible and there is no scarring.  A tiny incision is made and a catheter is introduced into the vein.  Then, ultrasound is used to guide a laser filament into the vein.  The vein is flooded with saline and lidocaine and the laser is slowly removed from the vein as it emits energy to seal the vein closed.

After the procedure, the leg is dressed with a compression bandage which is kept in place for 2 days, then compression stockings are worn for at least a week.  In most cases, the patient is able to return to normal activity, including work, the following day.  Typically doctors will recommend that you:

  • Wear your compression stockings around the clock for a week, then during the day for the next three weeks.
  • Avoid high impact exercise such as impact aerobics and running for three weeks.
  • Frequent walking to speed healing.

The doctor will do another ultrasound a few days after the procedure and again in four weeks to check that the veins are closing up properly.  Rarely, a treated vein will reopen, requiring additional treatment, but 98% of treated veins remain sealed after a year.

Endovenous laser treatment can cause some side effects, including redness or swelling in the treated area.

Surface Laser Treatment

For smaller varicose veins and spider veins, surface laser treatments are often effective.  The laser is directed at the affected veins and the light penetrates the skin and closes the vein.  There are no incisions and no recovery time.  You may experience some mild discomfort, but ice or topical anesthetic can be used to minimize this.  Typically you will be advised to:

  • Avoid sun exposure or use sunscreen for at least four weeks prior to your treatment. This will both maximize the effectiveness and minimize the risk of blistering or scarring.
  • Wear compression stockings during the day for at least three days.
  • Refrain from high impact exercise for three weeks.
  • Walk frequently to speed healing.
  • Apply ice as needed for discomfort.

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