Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins, raised above the
surface of the skin. Varicose veins do not occur suddenly. It
usually takes years for them to develop. Varicose veins are usually
inherited, although it is important to note that they are common in
people that have had certain types of leg injuries, deep vein clots
or spend a long time standing still or sitting down.
In healthy veins, one-way valves direct the flow of venous blood
from the superficial small veins into larger deep veins. The blood
eventually passes centrally to the heart and lungs. When one or
more of these venous valves fail to function correctly, blood flows
in the reverse direction. This tends to overfill and distend the
superficial veins under the skin causing a swollen, engorged or
rope-like appearance. These are varicose veins.
The symptoms of varicose veins include painful legs, often with
a feeling of tiredness and heaviness. Swelling of the ankle and
lower leg together with a brownish skin discolouration near the
ankle are less common.
Possible long term complications
Varicose veins can be painful and unattractive. Legs and feet
may swell, feel tired and throb or ache. The skin surrounding the
veins may also itch and burn. Patients may experience restlessness
particularly at night.
Left untreated, varicose veins can lead to skin discolouration,
and ulceration. These ulcers are difficult to treat and can become
easily infected and painful. Many of these symptoms and
complications can be prevented by early treatment of varicose
Treatments for varicose veins
Until recently, vein stripping was the standard treatment for
varicose veins. There are now alternative treatments available.
With the stripping operation an incision is made in the groin so
that the damaged vein can be grasped and surgically removed through
an incision by the knee. All patients that have stripping get a
wound in the groin. Many also get pain and bruising in the thigh,
causing a slow return to normal activity.
Some common side effects from vein stripping include temporary
pain or discomfort, bruising, haematoma, nerve damage, and less
frequently infection. Vein stripping is an invasive procedure and
may not be performed on older individuals for whom surgery poses a
risk due to other medical conditions. It is also not an appropriate
choice for people who have circulatory problems of the legs, skin
infections or blood-clotting defects.
Pregnant women are also inappropriate candidates for stripping. The
risk of veins growing back after five years is thought to lie
somewhere between 50 and 80 percent.
Endovenous Laser Therapy
Endovenous laser therapy is an alternative treatment option to
traditional vein stripping surgery. Using ultrasound, your doctor
will position the laser fibre into the diseased vein, through a
small hole in the skin. As the fibre is withdrawn, the vein is
re-routed through other healthier veins.
Following the procedure, walking is encouraged and normal daily
activities can be resumed immediately. However strenuous physical
activity such as aerobics should be avoided for three to four
weeks. Any bruising or soreness is temporary and improved with the
pain relief medications prescribed by your doctor.
The key benefits of endovenous laser therapy
Endovenous laser therapy is a quick, minimally invasive laser
procedure that leaves no scar, has a short and relatively pain-free
post-operative recovery period, and may be performed under local or
general anaesthesia. The treatment itself will take less than one
hour. You should be able to resume normal activities within 1-2
Patients report minimal to no scarring, bruising or swelling
following the procedure.
* Please note the above treatment may not be
offered by every hospital. Please contact your local hospital
to check if the treatment/service is available in