Endovascular Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins
What are varicose veins ? Anyone who has had them will tell you they throb all the time. My legs looked like road maps. The primary problem is that, instead of flowing up the leg from the foot going back to the heart, you have one or two veins that allow blood to flow back down the opposite way and that causes all the lower veins to branch out. This also puts stress on vascular system and causes symptoms. What problems do they cause ? Varicose veins are more of a problem than a lot of people realize. A lot of times they think its just a cosmetic thing. they get older and get bumps on their legs, but quite often they have symptoms and just don't realize symptoms are coming from varicose veins. EVLT vs. Other treatment alternatives Leg fatigue is nothing new. People have had it from the beginning of time, and for most of the 20th century we treated these by surgery. There was a very common and very effective technique called vein stripping, but as with most things we like to find a less invasive way to do it. Since I've had varicose veins for 20 years or more, everything that came down the pike for being treated, I've tried them. I'm always talking to my doctor about what new things have you heard or seen on varicose veins. The way that we have found most effective here is to use a laser to go inside the vein and close it out rather than use surgery to remove the vein. Now we've discovered that if we simply close of that vein we can do it from the inside using a laser, it does the same thing. So for our procedure here which we call Endovenus laser ablation of the greater saphenous vein, we make a small needle stick in the knee and slide a little tube in the vein and activate a little laser and slowly withdraw it and this makes the vein close off completely. You don't have any incisions we just put a bandaid over it at the end. You will get some bruising afterwards and we will make you wear a compression stocking. "I really didn't feel anything, I might have felt a little pulling here and there, but with varicose veins you feel a pull anyway, so it didn't really matter.Of course I had some bruising, but that went away. The veins should collapse and should not be nearly as visible after the procedure, so you should get a little cosmetic benefit. Occasionally we do an additional procedure where we take out some of those veins that are prominent because people would like them taken out at same time. It was wonderful and painless. I'm ready to do the next leg! Who is a candidate ? These are not the spider veins which are a different process that we can't treat with a laser, so for people that need spider veins treated, there are other techniques that can be used, not this one. But if you have the big ropy veins that stand out when you standup, this would be a good treatment for you. The key point for us is symptoms. You can do it for cosmetic reasons and other places do that, but we do not do it purely for cosmetic reasons. If you do that, you pay for it yourself, otherwise, most insurance pays for it. We do patients here who have symptoms and the most common ones are swelling, fatigue, and just pain in your legs when you walk. If you find that you’re having symptoms in one of the legs, you can come talk to us and we can do some easy things to see if this is the problem and if it is, it doesn't matter if you're 30, 70, 80 we can take care of those symptoms and take care of them simply and easily. We really don't offer surgery anymore except in unusual circumstances, and it's nice when the simple treatment has become the first line treatment. What patients say I have to say of all the procedures we do, this is the most rewarding. We usually have patients come back at a week and they usually tell us their pain is gone. It was wonderful, because my legs didn’t hurt all the time. I went back to the gym and worked out two days later. Insurance If you have symptoms from varicose veins, insurance now pays for these. You need to check out with insurance company to make sure they will pay for this, but since its the only procedure we do at MUSC, we now have Blue Cross, Blue Shielf, Medicare and essentially all private insurance companies, but we will double check that before we do the procedure.