What Are Varicose Veins?

Veins are like the highway system of the body. They carry blood pumped by the heart along a network of “roads” (arteries and veins) to bring oxygen to all parts of the body. The body’s natural movement helps pump blood back to the heart, which sends it out again in a continuous cycle. All veins have valves that act like traffic signals, opening and closing to make sure blood is always flowing the correct direction. Varicose veins are veins that have broken valves. In a varicose vein, blood flows backward and stays in the vein. This causes the vein to expand, stretch and possibly become twisted, which prevents it from circulating blood properly. The American Society for Vascular Surgery estimates 20-25 million Americans have varicose veins.



Varicose veins are mostly identifiable by their blue or purple color and twisting, bulging or cord-like appearance. For most patients, varicose veins are benign, unsightly blemishes that occur on your legs or feet when the veins swell. Some patients experience itching, pain, and tiredness in their legs.

In the most extreme cases, patients suffer bleeding, vein hardening, and skin ulcers near the ankle. These symptoms indicate serious vascular disease and you should seek medical attention.

Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT) can address all forms of varicose veins, although additional procedures may be necessary in extreme cases.



What is Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT)?

EVLT is a minimally-invasive procedure where your St. Louis Heart and Vascular physician can use radiofrequency (RF) energy or lasers to cauterize your varicose veins, soldering them shut. During the procedure, your physician will clean and sterilize the area and then cover the area with a topical anesthetic for your comfort. They’ll then use an ultrasound device to map out the varicose vein and track its path. After the mapping is complete, the physician applies anesthetic to the incision point and inserts a small catheter device into the varicose vein. Once inserted fully, more anesthetic is administered to the area before your physician applies the RF or laser energy treatment. As your physician pulls the catheter from your vein, it solders the vein closed.

Anyone with varicose veins is a good candidate for EVLT, but it is usually reserved for patients suffering from pain, ulcers, or other harmful symptoms. The entire procedure takes about an hour and you can usually go home shortly afterward.


What is Recovery Like Following EVLT?

You’ll be able to walk like normal immediately following your procedure, though you might experience some slight bruising or discomfort in the treated area. St. Louis Heart and Vascular recommends avoiding any intense physical exercise for several weeks as the veins heal. We might recommend wearing compression socks during the recovery process to help circulation.


When Will I See Results from EVLT?

Your treated varicose vein should be fully closed and no longer visible within one week of your procedure. Relief from your symptoms is usually immediate. We’ll schedule a follow-up ultrasound to make sure the vein is fully closed and no further treatment is needed.


St. Louis Heart and Vascular Can Treat Your Varicose Veins!

EVLT procedures are done at our Bridgeton office, 3550 McKelvey Road. Contact St. Louis Heart and Vascular to schedule your EVLT consultation at (314) 741-0911.