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Vein Ablation Complications

By Noreen Kassem ; Updated July 18, 2017

Varicose veins can be extremely disfiguring and distressing for both women and men, though they are much more common in women. This condition occurs when the valves and walls of veins in the legs, ankles and feet weaken leading to engorged and twisted veins that bulge from the surface of the skin. The Mayo Clinic advises that varicose veins can be asymptomatic and only a cosmetic concern for some individuals while others experience painful aching, burning, itching and bleeding symptoms. There are several treatments for varicose veins including laser ablation procedures such as endovenous laser treatment or ELST. Other treatments include sclerotherapy in which a solution is injected to scar and close the vein. Varicose vein ablation treatments are effective, but can cause complications.

Bruising and Bleeding

Procedures for the ablation of varicose veins include endovenous laser treatment or EVLT and other laser vein treatments. While some laser treatment target smaller varicose veins from above the skin, The Vein Institute of Toronto explains that EVLT is slightly more invasive. This ablation procedure requires a small incision in the leg to insert a catheter that is threaded into the varicosed vein. The catheter then gives off laser energy that scars and seals the damaged vein. The closed vein is removed passively by the body in several weeks. These procedures can lead to bleeding and bruising at the site of the incision and along the vein that has been treated. Bleeding from the incision does not last longer than 30 minutes or more after the treatment but bruising can last for as long as a few weeks.

Pain

Laser ablation procedures are painful and are usually performed with local anesthesia. However, once the numbing wears off shortly after the treatment, pain, aching and burning can occur in the treated leg for a few days or longer. In some cases a temporary loss of sensation due to damaged nerves may also occur along the area of the treated vein.

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Scarring

Laser ablation procedures for veins can also cause scarring. The Mayo Clinic warns that there is a small risk of scarring at the point of incision where the cather is inserted into the leg. In surface laser vein procedures, there is a risk of minor to moderate burns and scars where the laser heat penetrates the skin to reach the vein. In most cases, if these procedures are performed by professionals the risk of scarring is very minimal.

Recurrence

Vein ablation procedures with lasers may require additional treatments if the varicose is not completely removed in one treatment. According to The Vein Institute of Toronto, endovenous laser therapy has a recurrence rate of only 5 percent while surface laser treatments that must use lower energy lasers to avoid damaging the skin have a higher recurrence rate and may need additional treatments.

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