Skip to content
|Varicose Vein Treatment (Laser)|
A non-surgical solution for unsightly varicose veins
‘In vein’ laser treatment is a relatively new, minimally invasive and highly successful way to remove varicose veins. Varicose veins are not only unsightly, they can be very uncomfortable and can lead to more serious conditions such as phlebitis and leg ulcers. They are deeper than the more innocuous thread veins, usually a blue/green colour and over 2mm wide.
Laser energy has long been used to treat thread veins, however, because varicose veins are located deeper beneath the skin, it has been necessary to find a way to insert an optical fibre actually in the vein in order to deliver the necessary laser energy. The ‘in vein’ laser treatment was first described in 1979, and it has proved to be a relatively straightforward and very effective remedy compared to the more invasive surgical methods of the past.
Causes of varicose veins and typical sufferers
During physical exertion, muscles act like pumps, propelling blood back to the heart with every muscular contraction. A series of one way valves along the veins prevent the blood from flowing in the reverse direction. However, if the valves fail, the blood will flow backwards into superficial veins, causing them to enlarge and become varicose. The reverse blood flow needs to be stopped to eradicate the varicose vein. A number of approaches can be taken – including surgery, injecting a sclerosant solution into the vein, Radiofrequency Ablation and Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVL). This article focusses on laser treatment.
Varicose veins are one of the most common conditions, almost 75% of people will be affected by them to some degree during the course of their lives, with 25% needing medical attention. People who are liable to develop the problem may stand for prolonged periods, such as at their work. Women suffer more from varicose veins than men, particularly during pregnancy.
As one woman commented, “I had been a teacher for many years and people had always said that, because I stand all day, I will get varicose veins. Well I did. After speaking to my GP and then a specialist surgeon, I opted to undergo the laser technique to remove them. The procedure was quick, simple and effective – and I was back teaching after only a few days.”
Undergoing laser treatment for varicose veins
During the procedure, a laser is ‘fired’ along and inside the varicose vein. In a typical procedure, a very small incision is made and the laser fibre passed into the vein with the help of an ultrasound probe. Local anaesthetic is injected around the vein. While the laser is turned on, the fibre is slowly drawn down the leg, ‘burning’ the inside of the vein with short pulses of laser energy to seal the faulty vein so that blood cannot flow through it. After treatment, the blood in the faulty vein is diverted into other, normal veins.
The whole procedure will take under 1 hour and a compression bandage will be applied, allowing you to walk around immediately after the operation. This relatively non-invasive procedure achieves the desired result without any scarring, only minimal bruising and a rapid recovery time. The procedure can be carried out under local anaesthetic and does not require an overnight stay in hospital. After the treatment you will be able to return to normal activity immediately.
As with any medical procedure, varicose vein laser treatment does have potential complications, though it is very rare that a patient experience any complications after an EVL procedure. As with all cosmetic surgery, it is essential to follow the advice of your practitioner after the procedure. This will ensure as successful an outcome as possible and reduce the risk of complications
Who should carry out the procedure?
This is a surgical procedure, albeit a minimally invasive one, and therefore must only be carried out by a trained and qualified specialist with experience gained in an establishment registered with the Healthcare Commission (in the UK). When seeking out a suitable surgeon to perform the procedure, it is wise to select someone who has a high level of experience with the particular treatment and has carried out the procedure many times previously.
The cost of private laser treatment for varicose veins is around £2000 per treatment. The total cost depends on the extent of treatment and the number of sessions required to deal with the problem. If laser treatment for varicose veins is something that you are considering, you can discuss all of the issues mentioned here in greater depth during a consultation with your practitioner.
Have your say!
If you've had experience with this procedure then why not leave a comment below and share your thoughts and advice with our readers.