10 Key Facts About Laser Ablation (EVLA)

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June 9, 2020 The Vein Institute

You may have heard about Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), or Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT). What exactly does it mean?

  • ‘Endovenous’ means ‘inside the veins’
  • ‘Laser’ is heat energy transmitted by light
  • ‘Ablation’ means to ‘destroy’

Therefore, Laser Ablation literally means to destroy veins from the inside with laser. It is an advanced technique that uses heat from a laser to seal off varicose veins and prevent the flow of blood. Below are 10 key facts about Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA). This article explains why it is the treatment of choice for both physicians and patients.

Firstly, what are varicose veins?

Veins carry oxygen-rich blood from around the body back up to the heart. However, when vein valves, or vein walls, become damaged they can lead to Chronic Venous Insufficiency. As well as swelling and skin discolouration, one of the symptoms of CVI is varicose veins. When blood is not able to flow back up to the heart – it begins to reflux or pool, twisting and enlarging vessels: varicose veins.

10 Key Facts About Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)

Advantages

  • EVLA offers many advantages over vein stripping. Mostly, it is minimally-invasive and non-surgical. Therefore, it offers patients of all skin types of immediate results with no hospital stay and minimal downtime.
  • EVLA has an excellent success rate. Indeed, Endovenous Laser Ablation works effectively on 98% of all patients, requiring only one treatment. And it is quite unusual for patients to come back for a second treatment.
  • EVLA involves local anaesthetic. This means no general anaesthesia. Also, the type of local anaesthetic we use is “tumescent anaesthetic”. We inject it around the vein area with the help of ultrasound imagery. This makes the entire procedure extremely comfortable and virtually painless for patients.

Suitability

  • EVLA suits best patients with large, bulging varicose veins. Additionally, it’s ideal for veins that are damaged or have faulty valves, particularly in the legs. You’re an ideal candidate for this EVLA if you have deep, painful varicose veins, and are experiencing itching, cramping, as well as swelling or restless legs.
  • EVLA treats the main venous trunks of the legs, such as:
    • Great Saphenous Vein (GSV)
    • Small Saphenous Vein (SSV)
    • Their major tributaries such as the Anterior Accessory Saphenous Veins (AASV)
  • EVLA does not treat smaller, more superficial veins that we call varicosities. Indeed, varicosities are irregularly dilated veins that tend to appear closer to the surface in the lower extremities. And although varicosities can also come from an underlying condition known as venous insufficiency syndrome, a Sclerotherapy treatment is more appropriate.

Process

  • The treatment plan includes a duplex ultrasound to map out your veins. Also, the scan creates a visual map of your circulatory system. That in turn lets doctors know how well your venous network and blood flow are functioning. The ultrasound images are similar to what you would see during a baby scan, except that we perform this one on your legs. This way, the scan can reveal important information such as which valves are refluxed (faulty), and if any clots are present. It helps doctors determine an optimal course of action specifically for your condition.
  • EVLA reroutes blood flow through other healthy veins. During a Laser Ablation EVLA/EVLT treatment, your doctor inserts the laser fibre into the vein that needs treatment. As the laser heats up slowly, it causes controlled damage to the vein walls. Eventually, the vein shrinks, the body absorbs it and and it disappears. Then, the body directs the flow of blood through other healthy veins, re-establishing proper blood flow.
  • EVLA is a quick outpatient procedure that can take anywhere from 15-20 minutes. The exact treatment time depends on the size of the area that needs treatment. We can treat both legs during the same visit. We will ask you to wear a compression garment for one week to facilitate the healing process. Also, it is normal to experience minor discomfort such as itching and sensitivity for a couple of weeks post-procedure.
  • We recommend walking immediately after treatment. In addition, patients are happy to learn that they can resume their normal daily activities right away. The only exception is to avoid strenuously exercise such as running and working out at the gym, for approximately two weeks.

For more on the treatment of varicose veins, visit Treatment Options.

Image of leg with varicose veins including a diagram of a closed vein valve which causes varicose veins and open vein valves when veins are healthy.

Varicose veins are caused by damaged vein valves

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. Also, we offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1800 535 017 or make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.

Read more: The 5 things to know before laser treatment for varicose veins.