The statistics are a bit staggering. Approximately 1 in 3 people in the United States develop varicose veins. It’s bad enough that these blue bulging veins are very noticeable. What’s more: Over half of all people with venous disorders are experiencing at least one leg symptom. This includes pain, swelling and tightness – to name a few. The good news is you can get smooth, pain-free legs back. (Or prevent pain and discomfort before it starts.) The procedure, Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), is minimally-invasive and results in little to no pain. We provide details on EVLA, and the advantages of EVLA over its much more invasive surgical alternative, “vein stripping.”
What Are Varicose Veins?
Veins have an important function in our body – they carry the blood pumped by the heart to bring oxygen to all parts of the body. They have valves that ensure blood is flowing in the correct direction. When the valve is broken, varicose veins form. The blood flows backward and stays in the vein. As a result, the vein expands, stretches and becomes twisted.
“Vein Stripping”: Unnecessarily Painful, Not as Successful
Unfortunately, “vein stripping” is as painful as it sounds. Medically known as a phlebectomy, the procedure involves physically removing the vein with bad valves. Not only is this an unnecessarily painful way to treat varicose veins, it’s not nearly as effective as EVLA. In one study, “vein stripping” has a recurrence rate of nearly 40% at 5 years and EVLA had no recurrence after a median follow-up of 20 months.
What Is Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)?
EVLA (also known as endovenous laser therapy) is a technique that uses a laser to treat large veins under the surface of the skin. The procedure involves a making a tiny freckle-size incision and inserting a catheter containing a laser fiber directly into the varicose vein. Ultrasound is used as a guide for improved accuracy. Local anesthetic is administered through the length of the vein. Then, laser energy is released as the laser is slowly pulled back through the catheter. The laser energy damages the vein walls and they collapse, sealing shut the bad vein segments. Blood flow is redirected to healthy veins and the diseased veins eventually shrink and fade away.
Treat Varicose Veins for Good! And Other Benefits of EVLA
Fortunately, EVLA has become the “gold standard” for treating varicose veins. This method has been proven extremely safe and effective for treating varicose veins. In addition, EVLA has other benefits, including:
- Less Painful. Patients report minimal post-procedure pain.
- It’s quick! The procedure is done in the office and takes less than an hour.
- Little to no downtime. Return to normal activities (including work) the next day. The only restriction is no exercise for one week.
- Local anesthesia. Local numbing is used, much like what is administered for a dental procedure.
- Minimal (if any) scarring. This procedure requires only a few microincisions.
Improve Your Quality of Life
After an EVLA procedure, your life will change in many ways. However, it will take a little time for your body to fully heal and become more efficient. If varicose veins previously limited your mobility, you will see a definite improvement. Painful symptoms will gradually decrease, as will the appearance of the veins.
If larger, external veins are still visible after EVLA, sclerotherapy can be performed as a “clean up” procedure. This is typically considered a cosmetic procedure and not covered by insurance. However, it’s a good complement to EVLA in people who have extensive varicose veins or spider veins they want to treat. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is often performed when treating a “root vein” with a bad valve.
Why Choose The Lumen Center to Treat Your Varicose Veins
Dr. Andrew Kwak, founder of The Lumen Center, is one of the foremost experts in varicose veins. A trained interventional radiologist, Dr. Kwak founded the University of Pennsylvania’s first endovenous laser ablation program in 2002. He also served on the Penn Center for Human Appearance as an early developer of laser and high frequency focused ultrasound techniques for cosmetic surgical applications. Dr. Kwak has performed hundreds of minimally-invasive vein procedures each year for more than a decade in his Bryn Mawr, PA office.
From Dr. Kwak’s expertise to exceptional post-care and a compassionate support team, you’re in good hands at The Lumen Center! Learn more about vein treatment and see patient before and after photos. Schedule your complimentary consultation today at 610.525.0606.