Endovenous Laser Ablation (ELA) – Treatment in the Laser Era

Vein stripping or vein ligitation of the saphenous vein was once the primary method for treatment of varicose veins and its underlying cause. It involves tying off and stripping out the damaged vein. Vein stripping usually requires a recovery period of six weeks or more and can involve significant postoperative pain.

Today, endovenous laser ablation (ELA) offers a minimally invasive alternative to the surgical stripping of veins.

“ELA has an impressive 98% successful long-term saphenous closure and very low recurrence rate,” says Dr. Wright. “This compares favorably with vein stripping, which has a recurrence rate of up to 40%.” The nonsurgical procedure inserts a small probe with a laser fiber through a freckle-sized nick in the skin. Ultrasound guidance helps direct the probe to the damaged vein. Pulses of laser light are delivered into the vein, causing the internal vein wall to collapse and seal shut. This 45-minute, minimally invasive treatment can be performed in a single office visit with local anesthesia.

Unlike vein stripping, there is no scarring or long recovery period with ELA. The procedure is about as invasive as having a peripheral IV,” says Dr. Wright. “Patients are up and walking the same day and can resume normal activities within a day or two.”

Other treatment options for venous disorders include:

+ Sclerotherapy is a treatment that uses a tiny needle to inject a solution called sclerosant into the veins. This solution irritates the lining of the veins and causes them to close. The body then absorbs the treated vein. Sclerotherapy can be used to treat both varicose and spider veins that are often seen on the surface of the legs. For Deeper branches of vein that may not be seen on the surface, an ultrasound-guided option is also available. Multiple treatments are usually required to permanently close a vein.

+ Veinwave is a new device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just this year. It has been used in Europe for more than eight years. While sclerotherapy is successful in the treatment of most large and small veins, it cannot treat the fine, reddish veins on the knees, ankles and face. The new Veinwave device sends radiowave energy in quick pulses to the affected area, causing the vein walls to collapse. Unlike similar devices available before, Veinwave is virtually painless and has no risk of burning the skin. “This device was developed as a way to treat the tiny veins on the surface of the skin that cannot be treated with sclerotherapy,” says Dr. wright. “The other options of treating these tiny veins – laser and light treatments – pose the risk of burning and scarring. “ELA remains the quickest, most effective procedure for venous insufficiency, and it’s changing the face of treatment,” says Dr. Wright. “ELA has lowered the bar for patients, because it is so much less invasive and promotes a rapid recovery, making treatment for venous insufficiency a possibility for a greater range of people. Now, patients don’t have to wait until they are miserable from the symptoms or have developed complications to be treated.”

Referring Your Patients
For patients living with the pain and discomfort associated with venous insufficiency, help is available. Laser Lipo & Vein Center in St. Louis offers comprehensive care for venous disease, from diagnosis to treatment.

For more information, visit www.laserlipoandveins.com. To refer a patient, call (636) 397-4012.