Generally, endovenous laser ablation is a safe and minimally invasive procedure for treating a varicose vein. However, like any other surgery, it may present a range of side effects, which we will discuss throughout this article. But before we highlight the endovenous laser ablation side effects, let’s understand what the process entails.
So, what is endovenous laser ablation?
Endovenous laser ablation is the procedure that uses radiofrequency to cauterize and shrink varicose veins. It can be used for both cosmetic reasons and also to ease the symptoms that are commonly associated with varicose veins, including skin irritation, aching, inflammation, discoloration or swelling.
This procedure has helped hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from varicose veins across the globe to overcome the problem through laser energy application. The surgeon inserts a laser fiber into the problem vein and applies low energy to heat the vein wall. This causes the vein to shrink and collapse and as a result, preventing blood flow.
Important things to note about the procedure
- The radiologist does the ultrasound
- The treatment site on your leg is thoroughly cleaned and covered with surgical cloth to prevent the risk of infection
- Before treatment, your doctor will put you under a local anesthetic to make you as comfortable as you can be
- During the process, the doctor inserts a thin fiber into the varicose vein
- You won’t feel any pain when the laser is on. However, you may hear some buzzing sound and experience some burning smell
- As the laser focuses on the unhealthy vein, it eventually shrinks and collapses
- The whole process may take between one hour and one hour and thirty minutes.
What are the side effects and risks associated with endovenous laser ablation?
As stated earlier, the endovenous laser ablation is a safe and minimally invasive process. Most of the patients experience no ill complications or side effects – but it’s good to be in the loop regarding the potential side effects and risks.
Infection – while the doctors strive to ensure that the surfaces and equipment are clean, safe and sterile, you still may end up catching an infection, which often resolves on its own, though you have to report to your doctor as soon as it occurs
Phlebitis – or the redness and tenderness of the skin may occur after the procedure. You can treat any phlebitis associated pain with over-the-counter-medicine, although the problem often resolves within a week.
In addition to phlebitis and infections, some patients report having experienced the following side effects and risks:
- Pain over the vein (sometimes itchy or uncomfortable)
- Burns from prolonged contact with the laser
- Nerve damage that may lead to numbness or tingling
- Changes in skin tone or color over the vein where the process was done
- Excessive bruising or bleeding at the treatment site
- Blood clots – in such cases, it could be a sign of an underlying condition that’s potentially serious
It is paramount to adhere to all the instructions that the doctor offers for before, during and after the treatment. This will go a long way it minimizing the risk or side effects associated with the procedure.