Before about 2003-2004, most people in the United States who had gnarly varicose veins either lived with it or they underwent a very painful type of surgery called “vein stripping.” This was the primary type of varicose vein treatment back then. The patient had to be put under with anesthesia. The surgeon would then literally slice into the patient’s legs (or other regions) with his or her scalpel and cut out the offending varicose veins. To do so, he or she had to also damage a lot of other tissue in the process. The procedure itself was very invasive and the patient woke up with severe pain and had to deal with pain (and narcotics for pain) for months. To make matters worse, the varicose veins very often grew back so it could turn out that the painful procedure and long recovery time would be for nothing!
Fast forward less than two decades later and endovenous laser treatment, also called ELT or EVLT, has become the gold standard varicose vein treatment. A tiny incision is made in the skin right above the offending vein. A skinny laser, which looks more like a thin thread, is then inserted into the vein. Using duplex ultrasound as a visual guide, the laser is then guided along to the end area that needs to be treated. A pulse of laser energy is then used to “obliterate” or “zap” the vein so it collapses on itself in that region. The laser is pulled out a bit and the same is done along the entire pathway of the vein that needs to be treated. The vein tissue that is left is simply absorbed by the body. The tissue surrounding the vein is left completely unharmed so there is far less pain and recovery time. The patient gets up and goes home the very same day and the recovery is no where near as painful as the more archaic vein stripping.
Endovenous laser treatment is truly a miracle of science, thanks to the introduction of a brand new technology, lasers, to varicose vein treatment. Anyone who has had endovenous varicose vein treatment can attest to the fact that, as medical procedures go, it is relatively painless and the recovery rate is about as short as it gets, even when compared to other outpatient procedures. You’re usually sent home wearing a pair of well fitted compression stockings for the first 24 hours and told to walk as much as possible. Other than that, you can go on with your life as normal.
This is often the way science goes. Doctors and their patients struggle along with a more primitive and less effective treatment for decades and then all of sudden (in hindsight), a new amazing technique comes along that makes a dramatic improvement in how patients are treated. You may recall this being true with antibiotics. Penicillin was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, basically by accident. There was a flurry of research in the 1930s to develop penicillin into a standardized medicine, that could be administered safely on humans, and then it was used widely in the 1940s. This single discovery revolutionized the way infections were treated and prevented the misery that so many suffered before. Modern varicose vein treatment happened much in the same way.
The modern way endovenous laser treatment is conducted in most cases was also essentially discovered by accident. In the early days of using lasers in varicose vein treatment, the procedure was as much art as it was science. This is not to say the conditions weren’t controlled but doctors were still learning what worked best and some of them seemed to have more of a natural knack or “intuition” for the procedure than other. As lasers were increasingly used in varicose vein treatment, it became apparent they were most effective at certain radio frequencies, RF in geek speak.
Once this was figured out, the science of the procedure got much more defined and observations of results also became more defined. The original goal of endovenous varicose vein treatment had been to reduce the size and volume of the varicose veins to make the vein values fully functional again. However, as different radio frequencies were tried, and the results tracked closely over time, it became apparent that obliterating the varicose vein, the “ablation method,” had a more positive effect long term. The blood would simply find a new path to flow and the dysfunctional vein would be gone and so would the painful symptoms it had been generating. This procedure is now one of the most popular types of varicose vein treatment and works well on varicose veins from two to twelve millimeters in diameter.
Modern varicose vein treatment clinics like Metro Vein Centers have now honed these procedures to an exact science and have a consistency of success to prove it. You can get a free check up of your veins at Metro Vein Centers to see if you need varicose vein treatment and what type would work best in your particular situation. Endovenous varicose vein treatment will certainly be one of the techniques considered.
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