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What are the side effects of Endovenous Laser Ablation?

Varicose veins can often appear unsightly to sufferers and may make you feel insecure and self-conscious when wearing sandals, shorts, swimsuits, or other types of attire. These veins typically form in the legs and feet, and the underlying health issues behind this condition can also leave you in extreme pain and discomfort while putting you at risk for circulatory problems. Rather than simply living with this uncomfortable condition and attempting to either hide or cover up your varicose veins, you have other options. To be sure, Advanced Vein Therapy has state-of-the-art treatment options available. Our skilled physicians are all board certified Interventional Radiologists with the training and expertise to quickly and effectively diagnose and treat vein disease in a safe, minimally invasive way.

Am I a Candidate for Endovenous Laser Ablation?

Your veins pump blood from the heart throughout other areas of your body. The process completes itself as this blood is pumped back to the heart again. In order for the circulation of blood flow to reach extremities, such as your legs and feet, the muscles must contract and valves within the veins must open, allowing the blood to pass. In the case of people with varicose veins, these valves fail to work properly, causing the blood to pool in spots.

This can result in venous diseases such as varicose veins or spider veins, a milder and common variation. Varicose veins are typically large and dark purple or blue in color, often appearing right below the skin’s surface, while spider veins tend to be smaller and may appear as red, blue, or purple. You may notice either of these issues seem to appear suddenly, and unfortunately tend to increase over time. While they may be painless at first, varicose veins can eventually cause the following symptoms:

  • Aching, pain, and heaviness in the legs and feet;
  • Burning, throbbing, cramping, or swelling in the affected areas;
  • Pain that worsens after sitting or standing for long periods;
  • Hardening of the veins and skin ulcers, which indicate a more serious form of vascular disease, one that requires immediate medical attention.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, our staff and board certified Interventional Radiologists at Advanced Vein Therapy may be able to help. You may be a candidate for endovenous laser ablation treatment, a common, safe, and highly effective minimally-invasive procedure.

How Does Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatment Work?

Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) is a minimally invasive procedure that can provide patients with relatively fast and highly effective relief from the painful symptoms and unsightly appearance of varicose veins.

At Advanced Vein Therapy, we can schedule you an initial consultation with our physicians to review your medical history and the symptoms you are currently experiencing. We can then discuss your diagnosis, the potential health ramifications, and all of the treatment options that may be available in your particular situation. Once you and your doctor decide on EVLT as the best course of action, we will create a customized treatment plan and set a date to schedule the procedure.

On the day of your treatment, our staff will warmly greet you and escort you to the procedure room, while helping you relax and answering any last-minute questions or concerns you have. At this point, they will also begin preparing your leg for the treatment. The following information explains exactly how EVLT works and what to expect on the day of the procedure:

  • An ultrasound will be performed, with the radiologist marking the veins that will be treated;
  • Your leg will be thoroughly cleaned to prevent the risk of infection at the treatment site and covered with surgical draping;
  • Depending on where the unhealthy vein is located, you may be resting comfortably on your front or back side;
  • Prior to treatment, you will be given a local anesthetic to alleviate any possible discomfort you may experience;
  • During the procedure, the doctor will insert a thin fiber into the unhealthy vein;
  • Once the laser is turned on, you will not feel pain but you may hear a buzzing sound and experience a slight burning smell or taste in your mouth;
  • As the laser fiber emits a wave of light over the vein, it eventually closes and is absorbed into the body’s tissue.

The entire procedure generally takes between 60 to 90 minutes per leg. Once the varicose vein is closed, the blood will eventually reroute to another, healthier vein.

What Are the Side Effects of Venous Ablation? What Are the Other Risks?

EVLT is proven safe and minimally invasive but it is important to realize that there are risks associated with any type of medical treatment. While the majority of patients experience no ill side effects or complications, you do need to be aware of issues that could be a cause of concern.

Infection is one of the primary risks when undergoing any type of medical care. You can do your part to reduce the risks by keeping the site clean, washing your hands frequently, and changing any bandages or dressings regularly. At Advanced Vein Therapy, we are aggressive in following practices designed to prevent infections among patients. This includes maintaining clean, safe, sterile surfaces and supplies, along with monitoring wounds to ensure they heal properly.

In addition to infection, there are other side effects which could occur as the result of EVLT. While these generally occur infrequently, we encourage patients who have recently had endovenous laser ablation treatment to always report any of the following to their doctor at once:

  • Veins that are painful, itchy, or otherwise uncomfortable;
  • Excessive swelling or redness;
  • Burns due to extended contact with the laser;
  • Changes in skin color or tone over the vein on which the procedure was performed;
  • Bleeding or excessive bruising at the treatment site;
  • Nerve damage, which can result in tingling or numbness;
  • Blood clots, which could indicate a potentially serious underlying condition.

Deep vein thrombosis is one of the most potentially serious endovenous laser treatment side effects of endovenous laser ablation treatment, though it is relatively rare. Signs include pain, swelling, and tenderness in the calf or leg, along with swelling and a bluish discoloration.

To reduce the risk of this or other adverse effects, it is important to follow all of the instructions our staff provides both before, during, and after your treatment. This includes filling out medical forms completely, talking to your doctor about any other conditions you suffer from or medications you are taking, and attending all pre-treatment and follow up visits. Notify your doctor at the first sign of any discomfort, changes in the wound or vein appearance, or of any other problems you experience.

Tips on Getting Ready for Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatment

As a patient, it is important to take an active and engaged role in your own health care. At Advanced Vein Therapy, we provide a comprehensive, caring medical help you need in dealing with the physically painful and often embarrassing symptoms associated with venous diseases. We recommend the following tips as a way for patients to help protect themselves:

  • If you have questions or concerns at any time during your initial consultation, treatment, or follow up visit, bring them up immediately.
  • Carefully read all medical consent forms, discharge paperwork, and other information you are provided with.
  • As stated above, be candid and thorough when speaking with your doctor about your symptoms, your medical health, and family history, or when disclosing other providers, treatments, or medications.
  • Make sure your doctor is aware if you have a personal or family history of bleeding disorders or if you have allergies to things such as latex, chemical or natural dyes, antibiotics, or anesthetic medications.
  • Do not eat or drink for at least eight hours before any medical testing or procedure.
  • Consider bringing someone with you to your initial appointment, who can act as an extra set of ears.
  • Make sure to have someone accompany you on the day of treatment and wait to take you home, as it would be unsafe to attempt to drive yourself.

What Can I Expect After My Treatment?

After completing endovenous laser treatment, the results patients experience can vary. In some cases, varicose veins disappear completely during the recovery period. In other situations and in more severe cases, it may take up to a year for the unhealthy vein to no longer be visible. Most people are likely to fall somewhere in the middle of these timeframes. The following highlights what to expect post-treatment:

  • In the immediate aftermath of endovenous laser ablation surgery, you will be wrapped in an ace bandage and your compression sock. This helps to reduce swelling and potential blood clots.
  • You may have some bruising and discomfort, which should diminish over a period of two weeks.
  • While rest is an important part of the healing process, you will be encouraged to get up and move around frequently during your recovery.
  • Be aware that, depending on the number of veins that require treatment, your doctor may need to schedule your procedure over several appointments. During this time, avoid any strenuous activities and again, closely follow all of the instructions you are provided with.

It is important for patients with varicose veins and other venous diseases to realize that there is no permanent solution to this type of problem and that the issue may reappear again at some point in time. However, in terms of long-range results, endovenous laser ablation treatment is credited with having an excellent recovery rate.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that EVLT is among the most successful of treatments. In addition to the obvious advantages of using state-of-the-art lasers rather than more invasive surgical techniques, studies show that over a five-year period following treatment, EVLT is also proven to be highly effective in preventing a recurrence of varicose veins.

What Precautions Should I Take During the Recovery Period?

The first weeks immediately after your procedure are the most important when it comes to healing. You can expect to experience some discomfort and may take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines, provided you have cleared them with your doctor. Additional ways you can help to protect yourself and promote healing during this time include:

  • Reduce the risk of swelling or blood clots and promote circulation by wearing your compression sock for up to two weeks, or as otherwise instructed throughout this period.
  • To aid in reducing pain and inflammation, elevate and apply ice packs to the site every few hours.
  • Avoid taking baths or immersing your legs or feet in water during this recovery period.
  • Getting some exercise and activity is encouraged, but keep it light and stop immediately if you experience any discomfort.

Within a two-week period, any pain and swelling you experienced should have improved. As your varicose veins become less apparent, the laser insertion site itself should be healing and you may be able to resume your former activities. It is important to continue to follow closely any special instructions your doctor provides and report any new symptoms, problems, or concerns to our staff at Advanced Vein Therapy right away.

Find Out Whether Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatment Could Help You

At Advanced Vein Therapy, protecting your current and future good health is our number one priority. If you suffer from varicose veins, make the decision to finally deal with this uncomfortable and often embarrassing condition and reach out to our staff and physicians today. Our board-certified Interventional Radiologists can guide you in treatment options available.

In addition to improving your physical appearance, getting medical care for varicose veins can vastly improve your physical health and potentially prevent more serious health complications. Contact our Boise, Idaho office and request an initial consultation at Advanced Vein Therapy to find out if you may be a candidate for endovenous laser ablation treatment today.

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