Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT or ELT) has become a very popular varicose vein treatment because it is very effective. Plus, the recovery time is minimal at most. In fact, the whole procedure takes only about forty-five minutes and most patients walk out of the doctor’s office not long after the procedure and go directly back into their normal routine!
Endovenous Laser Treatment is often referred to more simply as “laser therapy” for varicose veins. It is also known as ELT or EVLT. Both are acronyms. The latter acronym, EVLT, is also a trademarked name for the Diomed laser varicose vein treatment which was sold off to Biolitec AG, based in Jena, Germany. However, just like Xerox, a trademarked name, is often used to mean any kind of photocopying, EVLT is often used for any type of Endovenous laser treatment or ELT.
Minimally Invasive ELT Versus Highly Invasive Vein Stripping
Endovenous laser treatment has largely replaced an older procedure called “vein stripping,” where veins were surgically pulled out of the leg. The procedure was very painful and very invasive, with many “invasive” surgical cuts into the leg! The recovery time was long and the results were mediocre at best. However, ELT is no where near as invasion (as you will see below) and does NOT include any major surgical cuts!
A Description of Endovenous Laser Treatment (ELT)
Endovenous laser for varicose vein treatment introduces a special type of catheter fiber, also called a laser energy appliance, or a 360 degree radial fiber optic laser, inside the problem varicose vein. As it is being inserted, it looks like an ultra thin cable. A small incision is made at the entry point for the laser fiber to start its journey into the vein. Then, using duplex ultrasound as a guide, the laser fiber is inserted along the entire length of the vein. At this point, the laser energy is NOT turned on.
Once the laser is in place along the length of the vein, the laser energy is turned on and it emits its energy inside the vein in a 360 degree complete circular pattern. The laser is then slowly pulled out, and as it is, the vein collapses in on itself. This essentially “kills” the vein in place so blood is no longer able to move through it and the old vein parts are simply reabsorbed by the body. If there is any stagnant blood in the varicose vein, the laser heat will also help to break this down so it can be absorbed by the body.
It’s important to note that the doctor performing this procedure cannot visually see the vein with his or her own eyes because this is NOT surgery, i.e the leg is not cut open. However, the whole procedure is guided by the images being produced by duplex ultrasound! So, for example, before applying the laser energy to the length of the vein, duplex ultrasound is used to check to see if the tip of the laser catheter is in the most optimal position BEFORE the laser energy is turned on. If it is not, duplex ultrasound is used to adjust the laser cable so it is in the best position.
The laser cable, once turned on, creates thermal destruction of the vein. This is all done without having to surgically cut into the leg, except the small insertion point, which is why it is called “minimally invasive” for varicose vein treatment This non-surgical technique also ensures that there is no accidental perforation of the vein wall which could harm the tissues around the vein.
There Are Different Wavelengths of Laser Energy For ELT
Different wavelengths of laser energy have been tried in an effort to more fully eradicate the vein while at the same time not harming the surrounding tissues. As should be easy to imagine, this requires a delicate balance so some experimentation has been done to determine the best wavelength of laser energy to use. The original procedure, developed by Dr. Robert Min, used 810 nm laser energy. However, another very popular laser energy wavelength is 910 nm, the same used by the trademarked “EVLT” Diomed equipment.
What To Expect After Endovenous Laser Treatment
Because there’s only local anesthesia given, and only one tiny surgical cut at the insertion point, recovery time is very little. In most cases, there is no scar, and if there is, it is only a tiny one that is hardly noticeable. In most cases, the patient is instructed to wear medical grade compression stockings for a few days after the procedure and the whole leg may be wrapped with a bandage for short time.
Metro Vein Centers
Endovenous laser for varicose vein treatment is a mainstay treatment at Metro Vein Centers. Having performed thousands of these procedures, the doctors at Metro are highly skilled and perfected this technique to the point they could almost perform it in their sleep. This is the kind of experience you want to look for when getting any medical procedure done.