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Do you suffer from the discomfort of unsightly varicose veins? Are your legs heavy, swollen and in pain by the end of the day? Do you keep your legs covered at all times due to disfiguring varicose veins? Have you researched the standard treatment of surgical stripping, but do not want to endure this painful procedure?
Now there is an alternative offered at Rhode Island Medical Imaging, a virtually painless and simple procedure performed by board certified physicians called endovenous laser ablation.
Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) is a progressive alternative to surgical ligation and stripping. Surgical ligation and stripping is performed under general anesthesia and involves at least two surgical incisions in order to tie off and pull out the faulty vein. With EVLA there is no anesthesia involved and there is a lower recurrence rate, shorter recovery period, lower costs and no scarring as compared with other procedures.
About Interventional Vein Treatment
Q: What causes varicose veins?
A:Veins carry blood from the tissues eventually back to the heart. The thin walled veins can become squeezed by muscles as they contract thus forcing the blood into non-return valves. If the non-return valves become faulty and fail to close, the blood can run backwards (or reflux) and pool in the legs. If this extra blood is sitting in veins close to the surface of the skin, the veins will swell up and become visible and 'varicosed'.
There is one major vein in the leg, the greater saphenous vein, which connects to many of the superficial surface veins. Failure of the valves in this vein is quite common and is a major cause of surface varicose veins. The saphenous vein runs down from the groin to the lower leg with varicose veins commonly occurring in the lower thigh, around the knee and in the calf.
Q: How does EVLA work?
A: The laser beam targets the vein walls, shrinking them and thus closing the faulty vein so that the blood can no longer flow through it. The laser beam energy is from an 810 nm diode laser delivered by a fine fiber-optic probe. As it is only the probe and a slim sheath which need to enter the vein the whole procedure is performed via a tiny skin nick, so there will be no post operative scarring. The probe is guided into place using ultrasound and the procedure is performed under strictly local anesthetic of a similar type used by dentist to numb the treatment area.
Q: How successful is endovenous laser ablation (EVLA)?
A: Results have been extremely favorable with success rates as high as the more painful and invasive approach of surgical ligation and stripping. Endovenous laser ablation will normally treat the cause of most varicose veins but additional/complimentary therapy (such as the sclerotherapy mentioned in the previous paragraph) may be necessary in some cases.
Q: Is the loss of this vein a problem?
A: No. There are many veins in the leg and after the treatment, the blood in the faulty veins will be diverted to the normal veins and eventually back to the heart.
Q: What complications are associated with this procedure?
A: There are potential complications with any medical procedure. The only minimal complication yet experienced with the endovenous laser ablation procedure has been a small number of cases of temporary paresthesia (numbness).
Q: Is there any risk from the laser?
A: No. However, as a precaution, you will wear a pair of special eye glasses during the procedure.
Q: Are there alternative treatments available?
A: Yes. The two most common procedures are ultrasound guided sclerotherapy (injection therapy) and radio frequency electrosurgery. Injection therapy for the saphenous vein appears to have a high recurrence rate frequently requiring retreatment. However, it is excellent for cosmetic treatment of any visible veins remaining after endovenous laser ablation. This procedure is also performed at our Vein Center after endovenous laser ablation or as a stand alone treatment for those with only smaller varicose or spider veins.
Q: What is the first step towards smoother less painful legs?
A: Schedule a consultation with the most experienced and ONLY image guided experts in Rhode Island - The Vein Institute at Rhode Island Medical Imaging. The patient and RIMI physician can decide together which treatment is appropriate. You can schedule a consultation appointment by calling 401.432.2400, select option 5 and then press 5 again.