Blood circulates from the heart to the legs and then back. The veins have one-way valves that enable blood to go against gravity and reach the heart. If the valves leak, blood collects in the leg veins, which then become varicose or enlarged. Symptoms associated with varicose veins include swelling, aches, ulcers, inflammation, and discoloration.
How is the procedure performed?
Our doctors will perform the ablation, which is usually an outpatient procedure. The doctor will tell the patient beforehand if he or she will need to have the procedure on an inpatient basis.
The doctor will use an ultrasound scanner to get an image of the varicose vein. If he is using lasers, he will give the patient protective eyewear. He might smear an anesthetic cream over the area above the vein to reduce discomfort. He will then inject a local anesthetic to numb the area where he will insert a catheter.
The doctor will clean, sterilize and cover the leg with a surgical drape. He will then make a tiny incision at the site. He will insert the catheter into the vein while using the ultrasound scanner to guide him. After he has positioned the catheter in the right spot within the abnormal vein, he will insert a radiofrequency electrode or laser fiber through the catheter, which he will then pull back in order to expose the tip of the electrode or fiber. He will apply the energy from the fiber or electrode, which will heal the vein and cause it to close. The vein will also eventually shrink.
After applying more local anesthetic, the doctor withdraws the catheter. He will then put a bandage on the incision, and he will not need to stitch the site. The procedure typically takes about an hour.
Afterward, the patient will have to wear a gradient compression stocking which will reduce tenderness and bruising. It will also help prevent blood clots from forming, although they are an admittedly rare side effect of the ablation. The patient will also need to undergo a follow-up ultrasound scan one week later to make sure the vein is healing properly.
How should the patient prepare?
Before the procedure, the patient should tell the doctor what medications they are taking, especially if they are using any herbal supplements. They should also tell the doctor about any allergies they have, especially if they are allergic to x-ray dye containing iodine or any type of local or general anesthetics. The doctor may advise the patient to stop taking certain medications like aspirin or blood thinners for a specific time before the procedure.
The patient should dress in comfortable and loose clothing and be prepared to remove all clothing and jewelry from the target area. They should also have a friend or relative drive them home after the procedure.
Schedule Your Consultation
At South Texas Vein Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive treatment for vein disorders. We’ll work with you to create a safe, effective treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Contact South Texas Vein Institute today to schedule your consultation and find out if endovenous laser ablation is right for you.