For many, varicose veins are more than a cosmetic concern. They sometimes cause throbbing, pain, discomfort, and other symptoms that can affect your quality of life. Fortunately, there are several effective non-surgical techniques to eliminate them, one being endovenous laser ablation (EVLA). It treats and eliminates varicose and spider veins from your body.
At Alabama Vein & Restoration Medspa, we are proud to offer endovenous laser ablation, a treatment that provides patients various benefits for their well-being and overall health. Patients who want to eliminate the spider or varicose veins without undergoing extensive invasive procedures or are not finding relief from other vein treatments can benefit from endovenous laser ablation. Read on to learn how the procedure can help you.
What Is Endovenous Laser Ablation?
Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), also known as endovenous thermal ablation or radiofrequency therapy, is a minimally invasive procedure that physicians use to treat varicose veins. These are swollen, twisted, ropey blood vessels that bulge underneath your skin’s surface. They are blue, red, or purple and commonly appear on your legs, ankles, and feet. According to the American Society for Vascular Surgery, over 20 million Americans have varicose veins.
Before getting into the treatment specifics, it is essential to understand how varicose veins occur. Veins contain valves that open and close to ensure blood flows in the right direction. When you have varicose veins, it means that your veins have weak or broken valves, and blood flows backward and does not leave the vein. The excess blood overload increases pressure in the veins, causing them to stretch, expand, and twist, preventing proper blood circulation. This results in varicose veins. The endovenous laser ablation treatment uses energy to cauterize (burn) and seal off the varicose veins with laser catheters and ultrasound. When the veins are sealed off, it allows the blood to flow through the nearby healthy veins to restore normal blood circulation.
What Are Some Common Uses of Endovenous Laser Ablation?
Doctors may use EVLA for cosmetic purposes and to help ease varicose vein symptoms such as:
- Painful swelling of the veins (phlebitis)
- Leg heaviness/fatigue
- Skin irritation or sores (ulcers)
- Skin discoloration
- Aching or throbbing pain
- Leg cramps (especially at night) and numbness
If you have medium to large varicose veins in your legs, endovenous laser ablation can help. Your doctor may recommend the treatment to avoid complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), bleeding, and sores.
How Should I Prepare?
Before scheduling your procedure, inform your doctor about all the medications, supplements, and vitamins you are taking. Your doctor might ask you to stop taking certain medications such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or blood thinners. You will be given specific instructions on changes you need to make regarding your medications.
List all allergies, especially to general anesthesia, local anesthetic, or contrast materials. You will discuss with your doctor your symptoms and other health conditions you might have. Wear comfortable, loose clothing and leave jewelry at home. You may need to wear a gown when under treatment. Make arrangements for someone to drive you home afterward.
What Happens During Endovenous Thermal Ablation?
Before your procedure, you will be given anesthesia so you do not experience pain and discomfort. You will be given local anesthesia to numb the treatment area and sedative medication to help you relax during the procedure. The doctor will then clean, sterilize and cover the area with a surgical drape.
During the procedure, your doctor will:
- Find your vein with the aid of an ultrasound
- Your doctor will make a tiny incision, insert a catheter into the incision site, and guide it into the target vein.
- Guide a thin laser fiber into the catheter into your vein. When it is snugly in your vein, the tool will apply laser or radiofrequency waves to generate heat directly into the affected vein. This cause the vein to collapse, permanently sealing it off. With time the destroyed vein becomes eliminated by the body through natural processes.
- Put a numbing agent around the vein via a series of small injections.
- Place a bandage over the treatment area. Stitches are not needed.
The procedure takes about an hour. After EVLA, you might experience minimal soreness, bruising, and tingling around the treatment area. You can take over-the-counter medications for pain relief. It would be best to ask your doctor about the safe pain medications you can take.
What Happens After the Procedure?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for your incision as it heals. For best treatment results, you need to:
- Wear compression socks or stockings
- Avoid swimming or going in hot tubs
- Not fly for two weeks
- Always keep your incisions clean and dry
- Move and walk around frequently during the day (at least 30 minutes daily)
- Elevate your treated leg when possible
- Avoid strenuous exercise until your doctor says it’s safe to resume physical activity
- Get adequate sleep and rest to help your body recover fast
- Wear compression stockings for a few days or weeks, as advised. They gently squeeze your legs to help prevent swelling in your legs. They can also help stop your blood from clotting or pooling
- Avoid hot baths for 1 to 2 weeks
After a week, your need to visit your doctor for an ultrasound. This helps to confirm if your veins are correctly healing.
What Are the Benefits of Endovenous Laser Ablation?
Compared to varicose vein surgery, EVLA has fantastic benefits, including the following:
- Safe and effective
- Minimally invasive (a tiny incision is made) than standard surgery
- Only minimal discomfort
- Fewer complications
- No downtime
- Low infection risk
- Less pain during recovery
- Positive cosmetic results (usually equal to or better than surgery)
- Use of a local vs. a general anesthetic
- No significant stitches or scars
- High rate of success
- Excellent effectiveness over the long term
- Low rate of recurrence for varicose and spider veins
- Shorter recovery (you can return to your normal routine in no time)
- The procedure is done in-office rather than in an operation room
- EVLA treatments are suitable for all skin types and various insufficiency problems
- EVLA can be used for deep veins in your legs
- Clinically Proven Relief
There are minimal, rare risks with EVLA treatments. However, like any medical procedure, there are potential risks. Endovenous laser ablation’s rare risks may include the following:
- Vessel perforation
- Pulmonary embolism
- Severe allergic reaction
- Phlebitis, hematoma
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Skin burns
- Nerve injury
- Post-phlebitic syndrome resulting in permanent leg swelling
What are the Success Rates for Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatments?
EVLA treatments are exceptionally successful compared to conventional surgeries. The overall success rate of EVLA is proven to be high (92%), making it the safest and most effective treatment for varicose veins. Some cases may require additional therapy.
Health Insurance Covered Medical Necessity for Endovenous Laser Therapy
With EVLA treatments, insurance coverage is based on a case-by-case basis. Insurance companies decide whether to cover treatment on the basis of medical necessity. The term medical necessity describes a treatment or test used to diagnose, cure, treat or alleviate symptoms relating to a medical or health condition. The treatment must be deemed appropriate, necessary, and within the standards of care for it to be considered a medical necessity. This is why most insurance companies want patients to try conservative treatments before going for surgery.
Since insurance companies differ, discussing coverage criteria with your insurance company is essential. If varicose veins impact your health and quality of life, the treatment is considered a medical necessity, and medical insurance will take care of the payments. However, medical insurance will not cover the treatment if your varicose veins are a cosmetic problem and don’t affect your health and well-being. For coverage approval for vein issues, most insurance companies base their coverage based on the following criteria:
- If your diagnostic imaging test revealed a poorly functioning vein (venous reflux)
- Whether your condition caused painful and/or annoying symptoms, such as heaviness, cramping, burning sensation, or pain, that affected your quality of life
- Your track record on the previous treatments that did not deliver satisfactory results
You can enquire from your insurance company whether they offer coverage for compression stockings which you may require after your procedure. Medical necessity coverage varies from person to person.
Get Help & Learn More About Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatments
If you are considering treatment for your varicose veins, EVLA can help. Our expert vein specialists at Alabama Vein & Restoration Medspa offer broad, comprehensive, and effective varicose and spider veins treatments. We will help determine the best treatment for you based on your condition and needs.
Our specialists offer individualized treatment plans to ensure your vascular health is at its best and to improve your quality of life. We are committed to providing all our patients with world-class care to live a healthy, pain-free life. Contact Alabama Vein & Restoration Medspa today for high-quality vein treatments. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you overcome the discomfort and self-consciousness associated with vein-related conditions.