What is endovenous thermal ablation (laser therapy) for venous disease?

Endovenous thermal ablation, also called laser therapy, is a newer technique that uses a laser or high-frequency radio waves to create intense local heat in the varicose vein or incompetent vein.

Heat is directed through a catheter to close up the targeted vessel. This treatment closes off the problem veins but leaves them in place so there is minimal bleeding and bruising.

Compared with ligation and stripping, many patients find that endovenous thermal ablation results in less pain and a faster return to normal activities, with similar cosmetic results.

Why is this procedure performed? Why do I need this procedure?

The goals of treatment are to reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of complications from venous disease, including blood clots.

Patients who have large, symptomatic varicose veins and those with incompetent saphenous veins are candidates for this procedure. This procedure is essentially taking the place of “vein stripping.”

Each patient is evaluated, and treatment will be individualized for the patient’s circumstances.

Where is the procedure performed and who performs this procedure?

This procedure is performed in the hospital surgical suite by a vascular surgeon.

What are the risks and potential complications of the procedure?

Your doctor will discuss the specific risks and potential benefits of the recommended procedure with you. This is generally a very safe procedure. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Complications after endovenous thermal ablation may include bruising along the site of ablation, pain along the site of ablation, the development of a blood clot in the veins in the treated leg, and irritation of the nerves that run along with the treated veins.

Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks, and there may be other possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, please ask questions to make sure you understand the risks of the procedure and why the procedure is recommended.