Endovenous Laser Therapy

Endovenous laser therapy diagramEndovenous laser therapy (EVLT) is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that is performed using X-ray guidance to treat chronic venous disease of the legs. An interventional radiologist inserts a thin catheter, about the size of a strand of spaghetti, into the vein and guides it up the great saphenous vein in the thigh.

Then a laser, or radiofrequency energy, is applied to the inside of the vein. This heats the vein and seals it closed. By closing the great saphenous vein, the twisted and varicosed branch veins, which are close to the skin, shrink and improve in appearance. Once the diseased vein is closed, other healthy veins take over to carry blood from the leg, re-establishing normal flow.

Prevalence
Chronic venous disease of the legs is one of the most common conditions affecting people of all races.

  • Approximately half of the U.S. population has venous disease—50%–55% of women and 40%–45% of men. Of these, 20%–25% of the women and 10%–15% of men have visible varicose veins.
  • Varicose veins affect one out of two people age 50 and older, and 15%–25% of all adults.

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Female gender
  • Pregnancy, especially multiple pregnancies

Symptoms
Symptoms of venous insufficiency and varicose veins include aching leg pain, easy leg fatigue and leg heaviness, all of which worsen as the day progresses. Many people find they need to sit down in the afternoon and elevate their legs to relieve these symptoms. In more severe cases, venous insufficiency and reflux can cause skin discoloration and ulceration, which may be very difficult to treat.

People without visible varicose veins can still experience symptoms. The symptoms can arise from spider veins as well as from varicose veins because, in both cases, the symptoms are caused by the pressure that dilated veins place on nerves.

Benefits of Vein Ablation Treatment

  • Takes less than an hour and provides immediate relief of symptoms.
  • Immediate return to normal activity with little or no pain. There may be minor soreness or bruising, which can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • No scars or stitches because the procedure does not require a surgical incision, just a nick in the skin about the size of a pencil tip.
  • High success rate and low recurrence rate compared to surgery.
  • The success rate ranges from 93%–95%.

What to Expect
Prior to appointments, Gwinnett Medical Center patients are asked to come in for routine lab work. It is preferred that patients have their lab work performed at Gwinnett Medical Center so the radiology nurses have access to the results. Our radiology nurses call each patient shortly after the procedure is scheduled to obtain a health history and provide instructions.

For most interventional radiology exams, patients need to arrive in admissions two hours before their scheduled procedure time on the day of the exam. Patients will check in at admissions before being taken to the Imaging Nursing Unit, where an interventional radiologist will come to talk with the patient before the procedure. The patient will then be prepped for the exam and taken to the Interventional Radiology Suite for the procedure. Following the procedure, the patient will return to the Imaging Nursing Unit for recovery. The recovery time varies based on the procedure. After the patient is then discharged, he or she will receive a follow-up call the next day.

Call 678-312-3444 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Lawrenceville, Duluth or Hamilton Mill.