Historically, treatment for varicose veins used to be vein-stripping surgery, which consisted of removing or tying off a large vein in the leg, all while under anesthesia. Today, modern technology such as endovenous laser ablation surgery, or ELAS, gives doctors a non-invasive way to address varicose veins. Read on to learn more about ELAS.
What are varicose veins?
A healthy vein carries blood away from and back to the heart. A normal vein carries blood with the help of valves that direct the blood toward the heart, stopping it from returning to the foot. If the valves fail, the vein becomes enlarged and causes reflux. To resolve the problem, often the diseased vein needs to be closed so the blood can be re-routed to healthy veins.
Varicose veins are first treated with lifestyle changes and compression stockings. When they cause severe pain, skin problems or blood clots, or if you’re bothered by the appearance of varicose veins, your doctor may recommend a medical procedure to treat them.
What is ELAS?
The reason why ELAS has become a preferred treatment over vein stripping is that it can be performed in less time and not using sedative anesthesia. ELAS is a modern method of treating diseased varicose veins, closing off the problem vein and re-routing the blood to healthier veins. This procedure begins with local anesthesia injected around and along the vein that will be treated. The procedure requires a tiny incision through which a thin tube is inserted using ultrasound guidance to deliver heat that closes but does not remove the vein. Treatment takes about 45 minutes or less to complete.
What happens after the procedure?
After this outpatient procedure, your leg will be wrapped in a compression bandage. You’ll be encouraged to walk right away to encourage blood to divert from the closed vein. You can use over-the-counter medication to minimize discomfort. Patients typically return to normal activities within 7-10 days after treatment.