Emory Vein Center Frequently Asked Questions

Superficial venous reflux is a leading cause of varicose veins. This condition develops when the valves that usually keep blood flowing out of your legs become damaged or diseased. This causes blood to pool in your legs. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, leg heaviness and fatigue, as well as varicose veins in your legs.

Spider veins often get confused with varicose veins. However, spider veins are smaller veins that can appear red, blue or purple and may look like tree branches or spider webs just underneath the skin. They are also caused by venous insufficiency; however, spider veins are considered a cosmetic condition and treatment is not covered under insurance.

Vein Closure Using Ablation

How does vain ablation Work?

A vein ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for superficial varicose veins, in which a thin catheter is inserted into the vein through a small opening and heat is used to collapse and seal the vein shut. Since valves cannot be repaired, the only alternative is to re-route blood flow through healthy veins. Traditionally, this has been done by surgically removing (stripping or ligating) the troublesome vein. These procedures provide a less invasive alternative to stripping or ligation by simply closing off the problem vein instead. Once the diseased vein is closed, other healthy veins take over the transport of blood from the legs back to the heart.

EVLT is a laser procedure and RF is radio frequency. It really just refers to the energy source used for the closure procedure. EVLT uses laser and so the catheter has a much higher temperature than the radio frequency closure.

With the EVLT or VNUS closure procedures there is no need for formal surgery. Instead, the vein remains in place and is closed using a special catheter inserted through a small puncture. Ablation treatments are performed in an outpatient setting using local anesthesia and patients report feeling little, if any, pain during the procedure.

As with any medical intervention, potential risks and complications exist with the procedure, though they are minimal. All patients should consult with their doctors to determine if other existing health conditions present any special risks. Your physician will review potential complications during your consultation.

The ablation procedure decreases the pressure to relieve symptoms of heaviness and swelling and the appearance of veins is also lessened.

Most insurance companies pay for both the EVLT and the VNUS closure procedure in part or in full. Insurance companies determine coverage for all treatments based on medical necessity. Our staff can discuss your insurance coverage further at the time of consultation.

Vein ablation using the laser or the radiofrequency technology both take approximately 30 minutes to an hour, though patients normally spend 60-90 minutes at the medical facility due to normal pre- and post-treatment protocols.

There is no scarring or swelling following either procedure. Most patients have some bruising that resolves within two weeks.

Many patients experience immediate improvement or resolution of their symptoms; however the entire treatment plan could take up to several months.

Patients can resume normal activities immediately. For 10 days following treatment, your doctor may recommend a regular walking regimen and suggest you refrain from very strenuous activities.

Only a physician can tell you if the laser or radiofrequency ablation technology offered at our center for vein treatment is a viable option for your venous problem. Experience has shown that the vast majority of patients with superficial varicose veins are candidates for this minimally invasive vein procedure.

Age alone is not a factor in determining whether or not the procedure is appropriate for you. Vein treatment using a laser or radiofrequency has been used for patients across a wide range of ages.

Following treatment, the vein simply becomes fibrous tissue. Over time, the body re-absorbs this tissue, and the treated vein is eventually indistinguishable after the procedure is performed.

What is sclerotherapy?

Some varicose veins can also be treated using the sclerotherapy procedure. A tiny needle is used to inject the veins with a solution that irritates the vein lining, causing the veins to collapse and ultimately be reabsorbed so that they are no longer visible. Depending on the type and number of veins being treated, one to several sclerotherapy sessions may be needed.

Sclerotherapy causes only minimal discomfort. While bruising typically disappears within one to two weeks, any pigmentation that occurs can persist for several months before fading. Normal activities can be resumed immediately, though medically prescribed support hose may have to be worn for several days or up to several weeks to assist in resolution of the veins. Other complications such as scarring are rare.

The most important step in determining a treatment plan is to have a complete ultrasound examination evaluated by your physician or other qualified clinician.

Attend one of our free informational classes to find out more about treatment for varicose veins. Please call 404-778-VEIN for more information about class days and times.

How Can We Help You Today?

Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at the Emory Vein Center at 404-778-7777. We look forward to hearing from you.