Varicose veins are veins just under the skin that have become too big. As they become bigger the blood begins to pool or even flow in the wrong direction, towards your feet. Varicose veins can hurt and can damage the skin of your legs. They can cause pain and may make you less confident about your appearance. At UVA, we can reduce your varicose veins with outpatient office procedures. One of the most common and helpful procedures is endovenous laser ablation therapy (EVLT) of the saphenous vein to get your confidence back and keep your skin healthy.
EVLT closes a long vein just under the skin called the saphenous vein. This vein can become enlarged and allow blood to run backwards, towards your feet. This backward flow goes into branches that become varicose veins you see in the skin. This quick procedure uses catheters, lasers, and ultrasound to close the vein. This reduces the pressure in varicose veins, and allowing them to return to a normal size.
Treating Varicose Veins with EVLT
An interventional radiologist or vascular surgeon inserts a catheter into your saphenous vein. Next, dilute numbing medication is injected around the vein to make a fluid shield. Lastly, a laser at the end of the catheter heats the walls of the saphenous vein, which closes the length of the vein as it is slowly withdrawn along the length of the abnormal vein. Our specialists have over 20 years of experience with this procedure.
Most patients can get back to most activities right away. We actually encourage patients to take walks the same day. Many patients can go back to work the next day.
EVLT closes the vein right away. As your body heals, your circulation will get better. You won’t have blood flowing through a faulty saphenous vein where the blood would pool or go in the wrong direction. Bulging veins will begin to disappear after a few weeks.
Healing with Compression Socks
During recovery, your provider will require you to wear compression socks to help with healing. The socks help decrease bruising and swelling as well as help insure the vein stays closed.
Patients will have a follow-up ultrasound a week later to make sure no clots have formed in the deeper veins.
Are You a Candidate for EVLT?
Not everyone with varicose veins is a good candidate for EVLT. EVLT treats varicose veins associated with the long straight vein called the saphenous vein. However, most patient with varicose veins can be treated using EVLT or other procedures. Talk to you see your provider to see if you qualify for EVLT.