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Endovenous Laser Treatment (ELT): Banishing Ugly Varicosities

The most used and oftentimes abused part of our body are our legs. It bears the brunt of our weight as it takes us from one place to another. We walk, play sports and dance with it. It is in fact one of the characteristics that brings us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom----the ability to stand on our legs and walk. Indeed God must have put a lot of thought in creating these sturdy and reliable implements we call legs. So what constitutes proper “leg health”? ----Proper fitting shoes, good grooming, right skin care, correct leg exercises and “checking your pipes” periodically. Fundamentally we have two kinds of pipes in our legs (as do the rest of our body and vital organs), the arteries which provide oxygen rich blood to our legs and the veins which take away used and deoxygenated blood towards the heart to be replenished with new oxygen into the lungs. Which brings us, to the perhaps the most common and often times ignored disease of the legs----venous insufficiency or in lay man’s term “varicosities”. Venous diseases affect approximately 40-55% of the general population and symptoms include dull aching leg pain and swelling more prominent at the end of the day or after long periods of standing. It can present as small pesky spider veins (telangiectasias) to larger more tortuous and branching varicosities which can ultimately not only cause pain but produce ulcerations and even infections. Central to its pathology is the patulence of the small unidirectional valves which promotes reflux of blood down to the legs and thereby producing congestion.

In the past the only way to go about and rid yourself of this problem was to undergo “saphenous vein” (large superficial veins that most often produce unsightly varicosities) “stripping, ligation, division and valve repair”. These are invasive procedures that require general or regional anesthesia and admission in the hospital and touted to have high failure rates and ironically leaves long unsightly scars on the legs.

In 2002, the US FDA approved a novel way of treating saphenous vein varicosities called Endovenous Laser Treatment (ELT), a minimally invasive method of ablating incompetent saphenous veins. The whole procedure can be done in less than an hour under local anesthesia and completely performed as an outpatient. By 2005, a newer machine came out that improved on the technology making it still much safer than its predecessor. This cutting edge technology is now available locally.

The procedure itself consists of a thin catheter with laser tip which is aseptically inserted through the diseased veins with the guidance of an ultrasound machine and laser energy (which looks like pulsating red light) is directed to heat up the water in the vein walls as you slowly pull back which effectively shrinks and seals the targeted veins under tumescent anesthesia (diluted anesthesia is injected around the vein to serve as a heat sink preventing burns as well as anesthesia). This is a virtually painless procedure which allows the patient to walk immediately after it is done and to return to work the next day. This newer water-targeting laser device (COOLTOUCH CTEV™ 1320 nm Nd:YAG Laser) appears to be associated with less pain and bruising than its older predecessor, the “hemoglobin- targeting”(Diode) machine. The procedure is safe with 0 to less than 1% probability of causing deep vein thrombosis and virtually nil chances of embolism. Minor side effects like slight bruising and tenderness subside in couple of days. For more information about COOLTOUCH CTEV™ PROCEDURE, please visit the website www.cooltouch.com/ctev.aspx.

If we can spend thousands of pesos for our shoes, it is imperative that we do not forget our “leg health”. It is beyond plain vanity and appearance but most especially for comfort, mobility and total health. I say be kind to your legs and feet and enjoy life.

  Before and After Pictures  

Patient 1
(Before ELT)
(5 months after ELT)
Patient 2
(Before ELT)
(3 months after ELT)
Patient 3
(Before ELT)
(3 months after ELT)
Endovenous Laser Treatment (ELT) video for Varicose Veins using CoolTouch CTEV Procedure