Endovenous Laser Therapy for Varicose Veins

Cypress Heart & Vascular Center
Cypress Heart & Vascular Center
Cypress Heart & Vascular Center


A: Varicose veins are large, "rope-like" veins, often a one-quarter inch or larger in diameter.

A: Varicose veins occur when the vein is not functioning properly to return blood from the lower leg to the heart. Each vein has a series of valves that open to allow the flow of blood to the heart and close to prevent backflow (otherwise known as "reflux") of blood back into the foot. The walls and valves of veins are thin and elastic and can stretch due to various conditions, including pregnancy, heredity, and age.

A: Approximately half of the population has some form of venous disease, and varicose veins affect about one out of two people age 50 and older and 15-25% of all adults.

A: No. Because there are many veins in the leg, the blood that would have flowed through the closed vein flows through other healthy veins after the laser therapy.

A: Although individual responses vary, most people report little to no pain associated with endovenous laser therapy. Often the only sensation is felt during the anesthetic delivery to the leg. After the procedure, you may feel some tenderness, tingling, itching, or tightness in the treated leg, which should disappear within a month.

A: More information on the causes and treatments of varicose veins can be found at www.treatveins.com. As always, for information on your specific condition, ask your physician.

A: Previously, treatment of painful, swollen varicose veins required a surgical procedure called vein stripping, where the vein was completely removed from the leg. Endovenous laser therapy has been developed to treat chronic venous insufficiency by delivering laser energy through a small puncture in the leg to close the diseased vein.

With endovenous laser therapy, no surgery is required, and the entire procedure can be performed in less than one hour in your physician's office. During the procedure, you are awake, and your leg is anesthetized. A thin laser fiber is inserted into the greater saphenous vein in your thigh. Your physician then will deliver laser energy through the fiber and into the vein, causing the vein to close.

A: Bulging varicose veins in the lower leg usually are caused by a faulty valve located higher in the leg that can't be seen at the surface. Endovenous laser therapy treats the source of the problem, which then causes the varicose vein in the lower leg to shrink and disappear.

A: After endovenous laser therapy, a gauze pad and tape will be placed over the puncture site, and a compression stocking or compression bandage will be placed on your leg. You are encouraged to walk following the procedure and resume normal activities immediately. However, during the two weeks following your procedure, you should avoid swimming, vigorous gym workouts, hot baths, or excessive sun.

Your physician will provide customized instructions for you to observe following your endovenous laser therapy, including how long to wear a compression stocking. If you have any questions, ask your physician.

A: You should expect to see some bruising along the treatment site as the vein disappears, which is normal and should gradually disappear within a month. You also may feel some tenderness, tingling, itching, or tightness in your treated leg during the two weeks following the procedure. If you experience significant pain or have bleeding of the treated leg, contact your physician promptly.