Endovenous laser treatment (EVL) is a relatively recent technology now being used for treating varicose veins. During the EVL procedure, the health care team heats the inside of the vein, causing the vein to narrow and eventually to disappear.
The laser is inserted into the vein using a thin optical fiber inside a catheter. Infrared light from the laser causes the vein to contract. The team of the physician, nurses, and technicians use ultrasound to guide the insertion of the catheter and then to guide the laser treatment.
EVL is an outpatient procedure done with local anesthesia. The patient can request sedation, although it is generally not used. It can typically be completed within one to two hours. Patients typically must wear some form of compression garment over the treated area for a short time after the procedure is completed.
Complications from EVL may include bruising, bleeding, temporary numbness, and infection at the injection site. These complications are usually mild. Rarely, blood clots may form in the blood vessel being treated; your physician will let you know how to look out for signs of complications following your procedure. Although it is extremely unlikely, in rare cases the laser can accidentally be used outside the treatment area and can cause serious damage to the eyes.
Results of EVL treatment are typically very good, with up to 98% of varicose veins that have been treated with EVL remaining closed when checked after 5 years. Your physician may want to perform follow-up testing to make sure the treated blood vessel remains closed. EVL is more effective than traditional surgical stripping procedures for varicose veins.