What is laser treatment for varicose veins?

Jump To

Laser treatment for varicose veins: Overview

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 treatment

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

Endovenous laser treatment can treat larger varicose veins in the legs. A laser fiber 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.

How well does laser treatment for varicose veins work?

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.

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.

What are the risks of laser treatment for varicose veins?

Side effects of laser treatment depend on whether you have simple or endovenous treatment. Some examples of side effects include:

  • Skin burns.
  • Skin coloring changes.
  • Feelings of burning, pain, or prickling after recovery, from nerve damage. These symptoms typically go away over time.
  • Small or large blood clotting in the vein or a deep vein.

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.

What can you expect as you recover from laser treatment for varicose veins?

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.

Why is laser treatment for varicose veins done?

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.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.