A woman’s legs are often the last bastion of youth. Free of sagging and wrinkles, legs enjoy the light of day well into our senior years. But when a woman finds herself burdened with varicose veins, a future of fashionable tennis matches and summer dresses seems hopeless. However, advances in laser therapy have not only put an end to painful vein stripping but have ushered in a new era of effective varicose vein treatment.
Causes of Varicose Veins
Your body’s circulatory system is made up of both arteries and veins. Arteries send the blood away from the heart and veins send the blood back. As blood flows toward the heart, tiny valves within the veins close after each heartbeat to prevent the blood from flowing backwards.
Due to hormonal changes, weight gain or genetics, these valves can begin to break down, creating a backwards blood flow known as venous reflux. This pooling of blood within the veins creates pressure and causes the walls of the vein to bulge. Vein disease is progressive and if left untreated, the pressure will continue to build and cause other valves to fail, which can cause more severe problems such as skin ulcers and blood clots.
Minimally Invasive Varicose Vein Treatment
In years past, the standard treatment for varicose veins was painful stripping or ligation surgery. Requiring general anesthesia, a hospital stay, a lengthy recovery and nasty scars, vein stripping was not only painful – it was also only about 60 percent effective.
Today’s gold standard of treatment for varicose veins is laser therapy. Known as EVLT (endovenous laser therapy) or EVLA (endovenous laser ablation), the procedure uses targeted laser energy to close the faulty vein.
A physician uses ultrasound to map out your veins and to measure the reflux; the actual number of seconds that blood is flowing in the wrong direction. Local anesthesia is applied, and a thin catheter and laser fiber are inserted through a tiny incision near the knee (no sutures needed – only a simple Band-Aid).
The light from the laser reacts with the vein walls to seal it shut. Because the veins are surface level and not functioning correctly anyway, there is no danger in eliminating them. Your blood will automatically reroute itself to healthier veins. The unsightly varicose vein will shrink and be absorbed by the body or possibly removed by the doctor with another tiny incision. EVLT success rates range between 93 to 98 percent.
EVLT Recovery Time
Walking is encouraged immediately following the procedure and patients are back to their normal routines within a few hours. Bruising can occur and most patients describe feeling sore for a few days as if they had undergone a vigorous workout. Compression stockings are usually required for two weeks post procedure to aid in healing, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory products are the only pain medications needed.
EVLT and Medical Insurance
Many major health insurance providers provide coverage for laser varicose vein treatment when it is deemed medically necessary. Medical necessity is determined by a vein mapping to establish venous insufficiency, by a doctor’s order, or both. If you are experiencing pain, swelling or skin changes in areas affected by varicose veins, be sure to see a qualified doctor to weigh your treatment options. If your health insurance provider does not offer coverage, most physicians will offer the treatment at a discounted rate.
Too many women feel that varicose veins are just something they have to live with. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Laser treatments from an experienced physician can allow your gorgeous gams to enjoy many more summers.
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