EVLT is an acronym for Endovenous Laser Treatment. This is the procedure that your vascular consultant may use to treat your vein condition. The treatment uses heat from a laser to close off affected veins.This heat gets guided using a very flexible tube, the vein is sealed off from any blood flow.
Varicose veins are the swollen veins that mostly occur on the legs and arms. The veins will occur, especially if the valves in your veins get damaged. With damaged veins, comes the problem of streamlined blood flow. With time, a lot of blood will collect and stagnate in the veins, which leads to bulging and twisting of the blood vessels.
Some of the most visible signs of varicose veins include twisted, bulging, and stiffened protrusions on either your legs or arms. However, you will mostly find these veins occurring on legs. The areas with the most prominent prevalence of this condition include the back of your leg or the sides.
How Do I Tell If I Need an EVLT Treatment?
This procedure is not actually for everyone who has developed varicose veins. However, most patients suffering from varicose veins will probably be suitable for the EVLT. The exception comes with patients who have had the problem from other causes. Some of the causes that would initiate this exception include a previous surgery that led to the vein problem. These patients don’t have an extended problem with their veins. If you fall within an excluded group, your vascular consultant may opt for foam sclerotherapy to treat the veins.
What Happens during Endovenous Laser Treatment?
An ultrasound scan is used where they will mark the veins to treat using a pen. If your varicose veins are on the front sides of your leg or arm, you will probably be on your back. If not, you will be on your front. The ultrasound scan performed at the beginning of the procedure will determine how the procedure will work.
How Should I Prepare for This Procedure?
Your doctor will need to evaluate how suitable you are for any procedure. This goes for EVLT candidates too. You will, therefore, be required to tell your doctor about the following few things.
- What medication you are taking if any
- Whether you are pregnant
- If you are breastfeeding
- How much alcohol you consume weekly, or whether you smoke regularly
- Whether you have been diagnosed with a health problem like diabetes or kidney issues in the past
Endovenous is a word derived from two terms, that is the word ‘endo’ and ‘venous.’ ‘Endo’ means inside, and ‘venous’ is a reference to the vein. Therefore, the term is used to refer to the insides of a vein. After the ultrasound and draping, it is now time for the doctor to get into your vein.
An anesthetic will be injected into the affected area. This is mostly the skin that is directly over and around the vein with the main problem.
After administration of the anaesthesia, the doctor will then insert a needle into the affected vein. A wire will then be inserted into the vein via the needle. A catheter will then be passed over the wire after the needle has been removed. The wire is then removed to leave the catheter’s insides open.
Time to Laser
After the removal of the wire, the doctor will then insert a laser fibre into the catheter. This laser fibre goes into the vein via the catheter up to the highest point of treatment. This point is most often the area with the biggest crease. A large quantity of anaesthetic is then injected into the area around the vein. This is mostly done using multiple tiny pricks from a needle.
The laser is then turned on, and it is time to push it down the vein under treatment. This process is repeated in every area where the varicose veins exist. After the procedure, your doctor will remove the catheter, clean the area with a disinfectant and then cover it with a dressing.
The whole procedure can last for a period of about 20 – 30 minutes for each leg. The doctor will will put compression stockings on your legs or arms. After the treatment you can go home and continue with light activity.
How Do I Recover At Home?
Some of the guidelines that your doctor will give you include:
- Taking all the prescribed medicine as required
- Ensuring that the site where the catheter was inserted is well cared for
- Checking for any sign of infection on the insertion site
- Walking a few times each day
- Avoiding air travel
- Keeping your legs in a raised position
- Wearing the compression stockings and or bandages as required
- Avoiding heavy lifting exercises or standing for long
- Avoiding a hot bath, whirlpools, or saunas
Need for Additional Treatments?
Depending on your specific case, these treatments can be administered during the Endovenous laser treatment or sometime after the treatment.
The common period mostly prescribed for the additional treatments is about 4 – 6 weeks after the EVLT. This is especially the case when you have varicose veins in both of your legs.
Avulsions are treatments administered under local anaesthesia. The local anaesthesia solution is injected around the varicose veins area to make it numb. Then the doctor will make small incisions above the affected areas. Using a hook, the doctor teases out the veins with a crotchet hook. Though the number of required incisions are many, you will experience very minimal scarring. The incisions are also very tiny and require no stitching.
Foam sclerotherapy is the most effective treatment method for varicose veins after an EVLT. The procedure involves the use of foam sclerosant that is injected into the affected blood vessel. This makes the blood vessel to close itself and re-route the blood. A sclerosing agent is simply a sealing agent, can also be called an ablating agent. The re-routed blood goes to other healthy veins, which leads to a restoration of the normal blood flow.
Though very rare, you might experience some complications in your healing process. You should call your doctor if you experience the following:
- Fever that runs up to 100.4 degrees in Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius
- Breathing problems and or chest pains
- Signs of infection at the incision where the catheter was inserted. This could be swelling with inflammation, increased redness, warmth, pain that increases with time, discharge that has an odour or bleeding
- Tingling and/or very severe numbness
- Swelling or very severe pain in the treated organ – leg or arm
Some of the complications that you might experience include but are not limited to the following.
- Vessel perforation whereby the vessel can leak
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Nerve injury
- Allergic reactions
If you do not experience any of the above complications, you will still need to have a follow up with your doctor. The doctor will discuss other treatment options with you.
Benefits of EVLT?
As a minimally invasive procedure, benefits include:
- Your recovery time is zero hours
- No need for Intravenous injection of fluids or medication
- No need for a hospital stay
- The treatment lasts for less than an hour
- The recovery is rapid
- You can go back to your normal daily activities after the procedure
- Great anaesthetic and clinical results
- You will experience very little pain
- The treatment is very effective as compared to the orthodox treatments
How Safe Is Endovenous Laser Treatment?
Since the procedure involved in the EVLT treatment is minimally abrasive, we can say with a good degree of certainty that EVLT is safe. However, it is important to take note of the possible side effects or complications that may arise from this treatment. The complications are very rare, but they could occur.
What Is the Success Rate?
Clinical studies have shown a success rate of 98%
Will the Varicose Veins Return after EVLT?
It is therefore important to understand that EVLT will only treat your existent varicose veins problem, maybe even eliminate them. However, there is no ultimate guarantee that you will not develop the varicose veins elsewhere or after some time.
How Long Do I Have to wait for the Results after the EVLT Procedure?
You will notice changes within the first week and can take a couple of months to see full results of treatment.
After undergoing the EVLT procedure, your veins will begin to improve their appearance from dark blue to red gradually. This red colour then improves into light red. The varicose veins will then disappear in a duration of about 2 – 6 weeks depending on how extensive they were. With time, you also find that the treated areas become clearer and noticeably better. This condition will then continue to improve further with every single treatment.
How Long It Takes to recover from EVLT?
While walking is encouraged soon after the procedure, any strenuous exercise involving the legs should be avoided for 2-3 weeks to allow adequate time for healing.
- What is a Endovenous Laser Treatment of Varicose Veins
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- Varicose Vein Laser Treatment FAQs
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- How Laser Treatment of Varicose Veins has Replaced Surgery