They’re often unsightly, they may be causing you pain or discomfort and they can pose more serious threats to your health. We’re talking about varicose veins, those ropy, bulging veins you most often see on your legs.
Even if you don’t see them, you may suspect their presence. Achy, restless legs, cramping or swelling are all signs of varicose veins that should be treated right away.
There are a number of ways to treat varicose veins and your doctor or specialist will recommend one that works best for you. Today we’re talking about one specific treatment – laser therapy – so that if you’re presented with this option you’ll understand how it works and what to expect.
The procedure for treating varicose veins with laser therapy is straightforward. Your doctor will apply a local anesthetic to the area to be treated then insert a needle into the vein with a laser fiber that will generate enough heat to effectively cauterize the vein. This will stop the blood flow through the damaged vein.
So what happens to that “dead” vein? It will eventually be harmlessly reabsorbed into the body and blood flow will be naturally rerouted through healthy veins.
Sound a little scary? Don’t fear! It’s a relatively quick and painless procedure that will have you in and out of your doctor’s office in no time.
Preparation is easy. There’s no need to fast because you’ll only be getting a local anesthetic. No need to change your daily routine.
You may have heard that you shouldn’t take blood thinners or aspirin before your procedure but this is no longer necessary. You should be able to continue taking any regular medications but do let your doctor know what you’re taking so he can advise you of any exceptions.
Be sure to drink water prior to your visit because hydrated veins become larger and can be treated more easily.
On the day of your visit you’ll want to wear loose, comfortable clothing.
Then sit back… let your doctor get to work… and you’ll be ready to take yourself home afterwards. You won’t even need a backup driver. You’ll be able to resume normal activities right away.
Laser therapy is a minimally-invasive treatment that only requires a local anesthetic. The procedure requires no incisions so you’ll see no scarring and the anesthetic will keep you comfortable and pain-free.
Your doctor will begin treating veins higher on your legs first and work down from there. Sometimes, closing off higher veins helps ease the pressure on lower veins.
The treatment session lasts about 30 minutes so if you count prep, paperwork and some friendly chatter with the receptionist afterwards, you can be in and out of the office in an hour.
If you’re not a fan of prescription medication, don’t fear – none will be required.
You may experience soreness or discomfort, but an over the counter painkiller is effective and safe.
After your treatment, you can drive yourself home and resume your normal activities. The only down side is that you don’t have a good reason to call in sick to work the next day!
Your doctor will ask you to wear compression stockings for a short period afterwards to help reduce swelling and pressure in your legs. They may not exactly be fashion-forward and can be uncomfortably snug, especially in hot weather, but they’re important for a quick and effective recovery.
Laser vein therapy has nearly a 98% success rate and can improve the appearance of your legs in only a few days. After treatment all those other annoying and painful symptoms will be significantly reduced or eliminated, including the aching, swelling, itching or burning that may have driven you to seek help in the first place.
If your doctor treated you for varicose veins high on your legs, he’ll want to see you again in a week or two to check your lower legs to see whether you require some additional treatment.
While treated veins disappear and do not return, the condition is considered chronic, which means that you may develop varicose veins again at some point in the future.
You should see your doctor regularly for ultrasounds to see if you require additional treatment. But now that you know what to expect, you can get a date on your calendar without breaking a sweat.
Any medical procedure comes with risk. Even stepping foot out of bed in the morning has it’s own risks – especially if you have pets or kids! But the risks associated with laser vein therapy are so low that you’d have a far better chance of falling over your cat than experiencing a problem with the therapy.
Risks include blood clots, infection and skin discoloration but in the hands of an experienced doctor you can rest easy that you’ll experience nothing more than feeling and looking better.
Although it may go without saying, you want to be sure that you’re getting a qualified doctor with experience using laser therapy. The more experience, the less likely that you’ll suffer side effects like burns, bruising or discomfort. Ask your doctor how long he’s been doing the procedure and whether his staff is trained to work with patients who may require assistance.
You may also want to consider a vein specialist with an office that is specially equipped for treatments. Not all offices are created equal – the equipment, chairs and setup range from the “everyday” to those designed specifically for your comfort and convenience. Oversized chairs and chairs that tilt to allow for better access to the areas of your legs to be treated are good signs that you’ll have a better experience.
Finally, be sure you ask questions and are comfortable with the answers. A proficient doctor will give you realistic expectations, share the pros and cons of your treatment, let you know how the procedure works and put you at ease.
And with the knowledge you’ve absorbed here, you’ll have a good idea of what to look for as you prepare for your varicose vein treatment.