Venous disease is the progressive loss of function of the venous system in the lower legs. Multiple factors contribute to venous disease including age, occupation, genetics, childbirth or trauma. Over time, the progressive loss of valves within the veins leads to dilation of the veins in the legs. These dilated veins are seen as varicose veins and spider veins. Long-term venous disease can lead to symptoms such as heaviness, aching, pain, burning, swelling, tenderness, bleeding, skin changes, restless legs, and more.
Varicose and spider veins are the end result of long-term venous disease in the legs. Varicose veins manifest as large bulging veins while spider veins appear as a tiny vein just at the surface of the skin. Spider veins have a characteristic pattern that looks similar to a spider’s-web.
Since the cause of varicose veins stem from a deeper problem, the first step is to identify a problem in the larger veins of the legs. By using ultrasound we can locate a diseased vein. Once the vein has been identified as being problematic, we use state of the art laser fibers to ablate the diseased vein. After treating the culprit vein, we remove small sections of the bulging vein to improve symptoms as well as appearance.
As with varicose veins, the cause of spider veins may stem from a deeper problem. The first step is to identify a potential problem in the larger veins of the legs. By using ultrasound we can locate a diseased vein. If the vein is problematic, we use state of the art laser fibers to ablate the diseased vein. After treating the culprit vein, we inject a medicine into the spider vein itself to bring about resolution. If there is no problem with a larger vein, we can still inject the medicine into the spider vein complex to help resolve the problem. Treating a spider vein by injecting a medicine is called sclerotherapy.
The laser ablation procedure is performed in the office and typically takes less than 1 hour. It is exceptionally well tolerated thanks to recent gains in technology. At Artemis, we use ultrasound technology to identify the diseased vein. Once the vein has been located, a catheter is placed into the vein followed by a laser fiber. The laser fiber is activated and as it is withdrawn, the vein will clot which effectively closes down the vein and the problem leading to venous disease. After the laser ablation, we turn our attention to the varicose veins. After making micro incisions in the skin, we can remove small sections of the varicose veins to bring about a faster resolution of symptoms and improve appearance.
The laser ablation procedure is extremely well tolerated by almost all patients. There are a few needle sticks required to place the numbing medicine around the vein. After the numbing medicine is placed, the procedure is painless. We offer a light sedative if a patient is anxious prior to the procedure; however most patients do not take this medication.
The first night following the laser ablation procedure you may experience soreness in the vein that was ablated. This is normal and the level of soreness varies from patient to patient. We offer a mild narcotic to help with the pain however most patients require only a mild anti-inflammatory or analgesic such as Ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your leg will be wrapped for 48 hours after the procedure. Once the wraps are removed you will need to wear compression stockings for 10-14 days. Mild to moderate bruising is commonly seen which is normal for the procedure. A small amount of bleeding may occur which can easily be stopped by mild pressure at the site. We schedule a post-op visit within 7 days of your procedure to ensure you are healing well.
The key to a successful procedure is to continue performing your normal activity. Normal activity includes activities such as walking, driving, cooking, running errands, etc. We want you performing normal activity during the first week following the procedure, including the first evening. We want you to avoid strenuous activity such as skiing, marathons, long cycling rides for 1-2 weeks. You may return to work the next day. Light activity for 1-2 days following the procedure is recommended.
The laser ablation procedure uses state-of-the-art technology to identify and treat the diseased vein. This procedure is performed thousands of times each year in the United States and the safety profile is impeccable. As with any procedure that involves puncturing the skin, there is a small risk of bleeding or infection. The procedure is performed under sterile technique to minimize infection. Bleeding is easily treated by mild pressure at the site. A clot in the deep vein is a potential complication however this risk is extremely low. By following the post-op care this risk is almost completely negated. We have a tremendous safety record and none of our patients have had a serious complication.
There are many other veins within the legs to return blood to the heart. Since the diseased vein has been ablated, blood will naturally find other veins to continue the cycle of venous return.
It is always recommended to have another person drive you home. If you have taken the mild sedative prior to the procedure, then a driver is mandatory.
Most insurances will cover the laser ablation procedure. At Artemis, we will submit your case to your insurance for coverage. Our billing staff can assist you for any questions you may have regarding payment. You can schedule a free consultation with our physicians to discuss your problem and insurance coverage.
This may happen as time goes on. If a varicose or spider vein returns and it is related to a vein that was ablated, we will take care of the problem at no charge. There is no time frame attached to this so if a varicose vein or spider vein returns in 5-10 years following a laser ablation, we will treat the problem free of charge.
Scheduling a free consultation with one of our physicians is the next step. A free consultation appointment takes less than 30 minutes. During this visit, we perform a screening ultrasound and discuss the extent of your problem. From this visit we formulate a plan to best treat your problem.