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A laser is a highly focused beam of light. A doctor can use a laser to treat varicose veins. Laser heat damages a vein, which makes scar tissue form. This scar tissue closes the vein. A closed vein loses its source of blood and dies.
Simple laser vein treatment is done on the outside of your skin. It can treat spider veins and tiny varicose veins just under the skin's surface. Usually, more than one laser session is needed. They may be scheduled every few weeks, as prescribed by your doctor. (If you have poor blood circulation feeding these tiny veins, the larger "feeder" vein must first be treated with surgery, endovenous ablation, or sclerotherapy.)
Endovenous laser treatment can treat larger varicose veins in the legs. A laser fibre is passed through a thin tube (catheter) into the vein. While doing this, the doctor watches the vein on a duplex ultrasound screen. Local anesthesia or a light sedative is used.
You will be able to walk after the treatment, and recovery typically is short. You are likely to be able to return to your normal daily routine right away after simple laser treatment.
After endovenous laser treatment, you will wear compression bandages or stockings. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear them. To follow up, your doctor will use duplex ultrasound to make sure that the vein is closed.
Simple laser treatment is done for small spider veins and tiny varicose veins. This is sometimes a second treatment step, after a larger varicose vein has been treated with surgery, endovenous ablation, or sclerotherapy.
Endovenous laser treatment is used to close off a larger varicose vein.
Simple laser treatment. This type of laser treatment can treat small veins. It may make the veins lighter. The veins may not disappear completely.
Endovenous laser treatment. Endovenous laser treatment closes veins more than 96 out of 100 times. It doesn't work in fewer than 4 out of 100 times.footnote 1
If endovenous laser treatment does not close a vein, you will need to decide whether to have a second treatment. Depending on what is available in your area, you may have choices between another laser treatment, another type of endovenous ablation treatment, or sclerotherapy. In some cases, vein surgery is recommended.
For the best chance of success, try to find a doctor with a lot of endovenous laser experience.
Side effects of laser treatment depend on whether you have simple or endovenous treatment. Some examples of side effects include:
The more experience your doctor has had with laser, the less risk you are likely to have. Talk to your doctor about how often these side effects happen in your doctor's practice.
CitationsWhing J, et al. (2021). Interventions for great saphenous vein incompetence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (8). DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD005624.pub4. Accessed August 30, 2022.
Current as of: December 19, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & David A. Szalay MD - Vascular Surgery
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