You’ll find answers here to some of our most frequently asked questions about minimally invasive treatments.
What is EVLT?
EVLT is a minimally invasive way of treating varicose veins. Instead of making a cut in the groin and stripping the vein from the thigh, the surgeon uses a fine laser fibre to zap the vein from the inside.
What are the advantages of EVLT?
EVLT is less painful than open surgery and people return to work faster than after open surgery. There is less bruising and there are no incisions in the top of the leg. EVLT can also be done under local anaesthetic without the patient being put to sleep.
What happens to the vein after it has been treated?
The body absorbs it and it disappears naturally.
If I have a local anaesthetic how painful will the operation be?
Under local anaesthetic you will need to have a few injections during the operation. We use a very tiny needle but it is still a little bit uncomfortable – it is a bit like going to the dentist.
Do I have to have a local anaesthetic for EVLT?
No. If you are scared of having a local anaesthetic or are needle phobic, you can have a general anaesthetic instead.
How long does the operation take?
About 30-40 minutes.
Do I have to stay in hospital after EVLT?
Rarely. The vast majority of patients go home on the same day as the treatment with bandages on the legs and painkillers.
How painful is EVLT?
Remarkably painless. Most patients find they need to take painkillers for a few days only. Sometimes patients can feel the treated vein as a tender cord in the thigh after the operation, but this feeling goes away within a couple of weeks.
Is the laser dangerous?
The laser is dangerous if you look at it directly. However, full laser safety precautions are taken during the operation. Everyone in the operating theatre has to wear special glasses during the laser phase of the procedure to be sure that there is no risk.
Is the technique approved by NICE?
Yes. It was approved by NICE in March 2004 – you can see the report on the NICE website.
The Effectiveness of EVLT
Does EVLT work as well as open surgery?
Yes. In fact the latest studies suggest it works better as far as recurrence of the veins is concerned.
Can veins come back after EVLT?
Yes they can, but as mentioned the latest work suggests that this is less common than after open surgery. The figures suggest that about 7% of patients will get some recurrence at three years post op.
Is everyone with varicose veins suitable for EVLT?
No. About 85% of people with varicose veins are suitable for EVLT. You will need a consultation with Mr Chaloner or Mr Sweeney to decide if you are suitable.
What if I am not suitable for EVLT?
You will be offered open surgery for your varicose veins if you wish it.
Paying for EVLT
Will my insurance pay for EVLT?
All the major health insurers (BUPA; PPP; Norwich Union; WPA; Standard Life) will cover EVLT treatment.
I am not insured. How much does EVLT cost?
The BMI Hospitals have a fixed-price package scheme for EVLT. Cost depends on whether you need one or both legs treated. A guide price would be approx £2,250-£2,995 for one leg and about £3,650 for both legs.