Surgery vs. Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins
Study Shows Vein Stripping and Laser Therapy Achieve Similar Results
Cost of Treatment
The cost of vein stripping surgery ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 plus fees charged by the hospital or surgical center. Costs for EVLT range from $600 to $3,000, depending on how much of the vein needs to be treated. Insurance may pick up part of the tab, however, if the varicose veins are painful or debilitating.
Against expectations, researchers found that patients in the EVLT group had slightly more pain in the first week after their procedures compared to those who had vein stripping surgery, but it went away more quickly, too.
Patients in the EVLT group reported having pain for an average of eight days after their procedures compared to 17 days in the HLS group.
The EVLT group also experienced more skin discoloration after their procedures.
Weighing Risks and Benefits
"This is an interesting paper, and gives a very similar picture that most other studies have shown," says Tristan R.A. Lane, MBBS, a vascular surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital and a researcher at Imperial College London, in an email to WebMD.
Lane reviewed the study but was not involved in the research.
"The overall message, as has become clear from most studies, is that the differing methods of vein treatment all work and provide good treatment if done well," Lane says.
Lane says because the study was started in 2004, it relied on an older laser technique that has since been advanced and may now provide better results.
He also notes that the kind of anesthesia used to perform the vein stripping in the study, called tumescent local anesthesia, is not a widely used technique and may have offered better results than a typical patient would get without it.
In the end, Lane says, the study won't change what he tells his patients.
"I usually explain that endovenous laser ablation [EVLT] provides a very good option, allowing patients to walk out of the clinic and go back to work the same or next day. I also explain that one treatment does not fit all and so we always consider other treatment methods," he says.