Endovenous Laser Vein Ablation

Endovenous laser vein ablation is an outpatient procedure and an alternative to surgical ligation and stripping for varicose veins. A laser is used to deliver heat and seal off problem veins.

Endovenous laser vein ablation therapy offers many advantages compared to surgery. This technique is performed in the outpatient office setting, has a shortened recovery period, and there is little to no scarring. The results for this treatment are excellent.

Compared to other minimally invasive techniques, endovenous laser vein ablation therapy may result in lower recurrences of varicose veins and less adverse side effects. Following this procedure, you will wear compression stockings for three weeks and can return to most activities within a day or two.

Before the procedure

diagram of the superficial veins in a legFill any pre- or post-procedure medication prescriptions you may have received. Be sure to get your compression stockings and bring them with you on the day of your procedure. You can find compression stockings at a medical supply store, or we can often fill your stocking prescription. Please plan ahead and get your stockings well in advance as the correct size may need to be ordered for you. Try on your stockings prior to your procedure to be sure they fit—although they will be very snug, they should be long enough that they come to the very top of your leg (to your groin). 

Unless told otherwise, you may eat, drink, and take all normal medications prior to your procedure. However, avoid caffeine and try to be well hydrated on the day of your procedure.

If you are taking any anticoagulant medication please discuss this with your physician as you may need to stop taking this medication prior to your procedure.

The pre-procedure medications can sometimes make people sleepy so we advise that you make arrangements to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

After the procedure

In the first 24 hours after the procedure most people rest and relax. However complete bed rest is not necessary or encouraged.

Take all post-procedure medications as prescribed, even if you do not have pain.

Try to elevate your legs when you are sitting for the first 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, but you can otherwise carry on with all daily activities with a few exceptions:

  • No heavy lifting (greater than 15 pounds) for two weeks. Keep in mind that items like grocery bags, trash, laundry baskets, and children can exceed these weight restrictions.
  • You may return to aerobic activity the day after your procedure, but must avoid core/abdominal exercise for two weeks. This includes yoga and Pilates.

No tub baths, swimming, or soaking in water for two weeks after the procedure to prevent infection. You may take a shower.

One week post procedure you will return for a follow-up appointment at which time an ultrasound will be performed to confirm procedure efficacy.

Compression stockings

Remember, you can wear the stockings too little, but not too much.

  • Week one: Wear the stockings around the clock. Remove once or twice daily to shower and then resume wearing the stockings.
  • Week two and week three: Wear the stockings during the day and in the evening, removing only when you are sleeping.

Leave all dressings and compression stockings on for 24 hours after your procedure. You then can remove everything with the exception of the steri-strips, and shower. Steri-strips are white or brown and are placed directly on the skin, under the bulky white dressings. Leave the steri-strips on for up to seven days or until they fall off. After you have completely dried your leg, resume wearing the compression stockings.

Learn more about the Northwestern Medicine Vein Center.