Endovenous Laser Ablation
Laser is the key word in the ELA treatment plan. Painful and unsightly varicose veins are the side effect of venous insufficiency where failed valves within the less structurally stable veins begin to fail. In ELA a thin catheter and laser fiber are inserted into the “trunk” of the diseased veins through which laser energy is delivered and seals off this abnormal or diseased vein. Once this main branch or source vein has closed the varicose and oftentimes spider veins (feeder veins) lessen or completely disappear. The blood that would have flowed into the problem vein is redirected into other healthy veins. ELA is minimally invasive, only a small nick in the skin is made, which means this is not a major surgical procedure. It is performed in the office in about an hour’s time, and after an additional 20 minute walking period the patient can be on their way. Most patients are able to return to work or normal activities the day following the procedure. The procedure has been clinically proven to be more successful, have lower recurrence rate, less post-operative pain and faster recovery when compared to traditional vein stripping.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), also known as the Closure Procedure by VNUS, is much like laser ablation but the “energy” used to close off the diseased vein is radio-energy vs. laser energy. It is used in much the same manner as the ELA procedure with ultrasound guidance and the insertion of a thin catheter into the diseased vein. RFA is a precise treatment method that is oftentimes used instead of or in conjunction with ELA to treat perforator or “branch” veins and varicosities. This method has been clinically proven superior to traditional vein stripping in the same manner as ELA.
Why does the vein need to be “ablated”?
Varicose and spider veins are often portrayed as relatively benign cosmetic concern, and although sometimes ELA and RFA (radiofrequency ablation) are used to treat veins for cosmetic reasons, the main purpose for treating these diseased veins is to alleviate the medical symptoms associated with venous insufficiency. Left unchecked and untreated venous insufficiency can lead to major complications with life altering symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Leg swelling
- Pain and crampy legs
- “Heaviness” in feet and/or legs
- Burning or itching sensations
- Skin changes such as discoloration
- Inflammation of the veins (phlebitis) which appear as painful and unsightly veins or varicosities
- Bleeding varicosities – which can be a serious condition and possibly life-threatening
- Venous ulcers on ankles and lower legs – which can lead to severe infections and potentially amputation
- Coagulation of blood in diseased veins – causes thrombosis or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
What are the benefits of the procedure?
With a greater than 95% effective rate, the outward success of the procedure is life changing for many patients. It leaves practically no visual evidence of treatment and effectively improves circulation in the legs. The symptoms of venous insufficiency resolve quickly, venous ulcers heal in timely fashion, bleeding varicosities frequently disappear soon after the procedure. Highly favorable cosmetic results are common with the treatment and patients who were concerned with revealing their legs express a renewed freedom and higher “quality of life”. ELA is a relatively pain-free treatment with very few side effects and patients express great satisfaction with their cosmetic results as well as their overall health improvements.
Why should I trust a Vascular Surgeon for this procedure?
While many vein treatment centers offer laser ablation, Dr. Robbins trained extensively in the full scope of vascular and venous disease in a two year fellowship program at Jobst Vascular Center in Toledo, OH. Vascular and venous disease is a bigger concern than just the cosmetic subcategory of unsightly veins and while Dr. Robbins treats varicose and spider veins in the office, he is highly trained and knowledgeable in both minimally invasive and surgical treatments many medical conditions involving the vascular system as a whole. As with all medical procedures, even a minimal risk of complications should be considered and Dr. Robbins’ expertise in arterial and venous disease assures the highest level of treatment and care for his patients.
What results can be expected?
With the evaluation and treatment methods available today, spider and varicose veins can be treated at a level of effectiveness and patient safety previously unattainable, although, a 100% resolution of all visual veins is considered unrealistic by medical experts. Regardless of which treatment method is used, success largely depends on careful assessment of the problem by a knowledgeable and trained physician, a comprehensive treatment plan, and ultimately the compliance of the patient. There are many underlying causes of varicose and spider veins, therefore, successful treatment of a particular vein problem does not necessarily prevent the occurrence of new venous concerns. An open relationship with your vein specialist where you can communicate your results and concerns of your vein issues, is key in the long-term success of your venous treatments.