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Minimally invasive varicose vein treatment (EVLT)
Varicose veins are swollen, bulging veins that often appear on the legs, and can look twisted and lumpy.
They’re very common but tend to affect women more than men and are more likely as we get older, although it’s not unusual for people to get them in their 20s and 30s too.
They usually develop due to weakness in the vein walls and valves, causing them to stretch and bulge. A number of risk factors can increase your chances of developing them, including pregnancy, being overweight, and spending a lot of time on your feet standing up. They can also run in families.
Varicose veins don’t always cause any problems and are rarely medically serious, although they can sometimes be sore and uncomfortable. In more severe cases, complications can also occur, such as bleeding, leg ulcers and blood clots. Many people choose to treat varicose veins for cosmetic reasons – and if varicose veins are affecting your self-confidence and stopping you from wearing the clothes you want and living life to the full, there are a number of things we can do to help.
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) (also known as EVLA, RFA, VNUS and ELA) is a minimally-invasive varicose veins treatment offered at Hadley Wood Hospital. The procedure involves inserting a very fine laser fibre into the affected vein. Ultrasound is used to direct it to the required position and once there, heat is delivered via the laser in order to seal the affected vein through a process called thermal coagulation. This also causes the vein to shrink and means blood can no longer cause the vein to bulge.
The process takes up to an hour and is carried out with local anaesthetic (although mild sedation can also be used if required). As well as being fast and effective, EVLT leaves no scarring, although there will be some soreness and bruising which should heal within a couple of weeks. You’ll be able to go home soon afterwards (you’ll need somebody to take you home if you were sedated) and should be able to return to work and other regular daily activities after a day or two. A compression stocking will need to be worn for a period of time; your consultant will be able to advise on this, as well as when it’s sensible to return to more strenuous activities.