What To Expect During Your EVLT Recovery Process

Your Complete Guide to Recovering After EVLT Surgery

Around 40 million Americans cope with swollen varicose veins and gnarly spider veins causing symptoms ranging from mild to painful and even dangerous. A fast, effective treatment called endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) offers a minimally invasive alternative to vein stripping delivering lasting relief. But what exactly does the recovery process after EVLT treatment involve? And how long until those frustrating varicose veins disappear? Keep reading to know what to expect during your EVLT recovery process so you feel fully prepared.

Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) offers an effective and minimally invasive option for eliminating varicose veins. During EVLT, a laser fiber is inserted into the damaged vein to heat and seal it shut from the inside. This forces blood to redirect into healthier veins. While the procedure itself takes less than an hour, proper aftercare and recovery help ensure the best outcomes from EVLT surgery. Knowing what to expect minimizes activity restrictions and discomfort during the healing process.

In this complete guide, we’ll break down the typical recovery timeline following EVLT, along with tips to speed healing and avoid complications. We’ll also cover when you can expect to return to normal activity.

Understanding The EVLT Procedure

EVLT utilizes a thin laser fiber threaded into the diseased vein already mapped via ultrasound. As the laser tip heats up while pulled back through, the vein’s walls essentially cook shut. Blood flow instantly re-routes into healthier nearby veins. Since no veins actually get stripped away, EVLT is far less invasive with less post-procedural discomfort. Here is a quick EVLT procedure overview:

  • Ultrasound mapping of problematic veins
  • Local anesthesia (similar to numbing before dental work)
  • Laser fiber insertion through a small catheter into the main defective vein
  • Laser activated as fiber slowly withdraws and vein seals off
  • Compression dressings to support healing

No stitches or hospital stay is required. Sealing the diseased veins this way blocks blood from pooling and allows symptoms to resolve.

What To Expect During Your EVLT Recovery Process

The recovery process following endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) for varicose veins can vary from patient to patient. However, most people can expect some common side effects and a progressive healing timeline over the first couple of months after the minimally invasive EVLT procedure. Early on, mild to moderate bruising, swelling, pain, or tenderness are normal as your treated vein seals shut. This is followed by a period of gradual improvement in symptoms and wound healing. It takes 2 to 6 weeks for the full effects of EVLT to be realized. Ongoing self-care also impacts the recovery journey. Knowing what’s normal to feel during the phases of EVLT recovery can provide reassurance and help avoid potential complications. With the right post-procedure plan, most patients are back to normal activities within a week.

Why is EVLT Treatment Required?

EVLT or endovenous laser treatment is required primarily to treat varicose veins and venous reflux disease in the legs. Here are some key reasons why EVLT may be recommended or required:

  1. To alleviate symptoms: Varicose veins can cause aching, pain, heaviness, swelling, restlessness, cramps, and throbbing sensations in the legs. EVLT helps relieve these often severe and persistent venous disease symptoms when conservative measures fail.
  2. To improve appearance: Varicose veins appear as large, twisted, bulging, and rope-like blue/purple vessels under the skin surface. Many patients seek EVLT to address this unsightly appearance and self-consciousness.
  3. To prevent complications: Worsening untreated varicose veins leads to more inflamed veins (phlebitis), leg ulcers, bleeding veins, superficial thrombophlebitis, and chronic venous insufficiency. EVLT can prevent disease progression and these complications.
  4. When other treatments fail: Conservative therapies like compression stockings or medications may not adequately treat extensive varicose veins. If these non-invasive treatments like sclerotherapy or embolization fail, EVLT is considered.
  5. For underlying venous reflux: EVLT also directly treats the underlying root issue – faulty valves and pathogenic venous reflux in the great or small saphenous veins, not just the surface veins.

There are a variety of important vascular health and quality of life reasons why EVLT may be recommended or required to manage complex varicose veins or advanced chronic venous disease when other measures have not been sufficient.

Signs and Symptoms Of EVLT

Here is a table outlining some of the common signs and symptoms that may occur during the EVLT recovery process:

Phase Timeline Possible Signs & Symptoms
Early First 1-3 days
  • • Mild bruising around injection sites
  • • Swelling and tenderness along the treated vein
  • • Mild pain, discomfort, or tightness in the leg
Acute First 1-2 weeks
  • • Moderate bruising and swelling
  • • Significant pain and tenderness along the vein
  • • Tightness, heaviness, or throbbing feeling in the leg
  • • Mild leakage of blood or fluid (serous drainage) from incisions
Subacute 2 weeks to 2 months
  • • Gradual improvement in bruising and swelling
  • • Decreased pain, tightness, and inflammation along the vein
  • • Signs of wound healing at incision sites
Late 2+ months
  • • Minimal to no further bruising
  • • Greatly reduced tenderness and swelling
  • • Much improved or minimal discomfort in the leg
  • • Resolved drainage, healed incisions

Symptoms vary significantly per individual and specific clinical situation. Work closely with your provider if you have any concerns about unusual, worsening, or prolonged recovery symptoms. Report any sudden onset of pain, numbness, significant bruising/swelling, or other issues promptly after EVLT.

EVLT Recovery Timeline

EVLT Recovery Timeline

The recovery period following EVLT surgery on varicose veins can vary slightly by individual. But in general, here is what to expect during the healing process:

Day of Surgery

  • procedure takes 20-40 minutes.
  • mild to moderate discomfort at the insertion site.
  • bruising, swelling, and numbness are normal initially.
  • resume light activity.

1 Week After Surgery

  • swelling, tightness, and bruising improves.
  • a follow-up appointment to check healing.
  • discomfort managed with OTC meds.
  • wear compression stockings.

1-2 Weeks After

  • removing bandages continue compression hose.
  • stitches dissolve.
  • resume a normal routine.
  • avoid strenuous exercise for 2 weeks.

2+ Weeks After

  • swelling continues to decrease.
  • more energy returns.
  • you can ease back into exercise.
  • discomfort fades significantly.

4-6 Weeks After

  • switching to support hose during the day.
  • swelling typically resolved.
  • no pain with normal activity.
  • OK to resume all regular activities.

Full effects are seen around 3 months after EVLT once treated veins are reabsorbed. Most patients experience major improvements in symptoms like achiness and swelling within the first 1-2 weeks of recovery.

What to Expect the Day of Your EVLT Procedure

After arriving for your EVLT treatment, here’s a rundown of what happens:

  • You’ll change into a gown and be taken to the procedure room.
  • An IV line may be inserted (for sedation if used).
  • Your leg is cleaned and numbed at the insertion site.
  • Guided ultrasound helps position the catheter into the vein.
  • You may feel slight pressure or warmth as the laser is activated inside the vein.
  • After treating all affected veins, your leg is wrapped with a compression bandage.
  • You’ll receive post-op instructions and can have someone drive you home.

You’ll be able to walk and move immediately after EVLT but should rest with your leg elevated the remainder of the day. Using ibuprofen and ice packs helps minimize swelling and discomfort.

Managing Discomfort After EVLT

Some degree of pain, bruising, and swelling is normal following EVLT as the treated vein becomes inflamed. Discomfort typically peaks 1-3 days after the procedure.

Your doctor will prescribe medication to manage post-procedure discomfort, usually either:

  • NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Narcotic pain medication for more severe pain if NSAIDs are inadequate.

Over-the-counter options like acetaminophen or anti-inflammatories can also alleviate discomfort after the first 1-2 days. The pain often feels like a sore, stiff muscle that improves as the swelling goes down.

See your doctor if the pain worsens or persists beyond one week, which may indicate a complication like infection or blood clot.

Caring for Your Leg After EVLT Surgery

Properly caring for your treated leg after EVLT is vital during recovery:

  • Elevate your leg above heart level as much as possible in the first 1-2 days to minimize swelling. Pillows or recliners help keep it elevated.
  • Wear compression stockings or bandages continuously, except when bathing, to prevent blood pooling and fluid buildup. Keep the leg wrapped for at least 1 week.
  • Do light ankle rolls and walks several times a day after the first 24 hours to prevent blood clots from lack of movement. Avoid standing still for too long.
  • Refrain from getting incisions wet for 2 days until the insertion site seals. Cover with plastic when showering. Avoid baths or swimming for 1 week.
  • Avoid anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and aspirin for 48 hours after the procedure unless prescribed by your doctor. They can increase bleeding risks.
  • Resume normal walking as soon as tolerated to boost circulation in the treated leg. Take it easy on stairs initially.
  • Rest often with your feet up higher than your heart and avoid being on your feet for prolonged periods the first week.

Follow all your doctor’s home care instructions closely for optimal healing and call with any severe worsening of pain, excessive bleeding, or signs of infection like pus, redness, and fever.

Returning to Daily Activities After EVLT

Once any sedation wears off, you can perform basic self-care and resume non-strenuous daily tasks fairly quickly after EVLT:

  • Showering – After 2 days when incisions close. Use a plastic cover the first week.
  • Driving – Within 1-3 days once off prescription pain medications. Check with your doctor.
  • Working – Within 2-3 days for desk/seated jobs. Up to 1 week for jobs requiring standing.
  • Climbing stairs – Right away, but take them slow and steady at first.
  • Lower body dressing – Within the first 1-2 days, take it easy bending over.
  • Light housework – After 2-3 days if it doesn’t worsen the pain. Avoid vacuuming.
  • Shopping – After 4-5 days for short trips. Avoid extensive walking.
  • Traveling – Wait 1 week to reduce the risk of complications. Get up and move hourly when driving long distances.

Do not resume any strenuous activity, heavy lifting, or exercise for at least 2 weeks post-procedure to allow for adequate healing of the treated vein. Increase physical activity slowly.

Expected Time to Return to Exercise After EVLT

When can you expect to get back to your normal workout routine? Here are the recommended return-to-exercise timelines:

  • Light walking – After 24-48 hours
  • Easy jogging – After 1 week
  • Strength training – After 2 weeks
  • High-impact sports – After 4 weeks
  • Contact sports – After 6 weeks

It’s important to resume exercise gradually. Compressing and stretching the healing vein too soon could damage the fragile closure.

Increase the intensity and duration of workouts slowly over several weeks. Avoid exertion that causes significant discomfort in the treated leg. Listen to your body.

Also, continue wearing medical compression stockings when exercising for at least 6-8 weeks after EVLT surgery to prevent blood pooling and support the healing vein.


How long does EVLT recovery take?

Most patients can resume normal activities within 1 week but allow 4-6 weeks for full recovery. Treated veins continue sealing over 3 months.

When can I drive after EVLT?

You can resume driving 1-3 days after EVLT once any sedation medications have worn off and you can press the brake comfortably.

How long do I wear compression stockings after?

Wear compression stockings continuously, aside from bathing, for 1-2 weeks. Then your doctor may advise wearing them just during the day for up to 6-8 weeks.

When can I return to work?

With a desk job, you may return to work within 2-3 days. Jobs requiring prolonged standing or physical exertion may need up to 1-2 weeks off.

How soon can I resume working out after EVLT?

Avoid strenuous exercise for 2 weeks. Then ease back into workouts gradually over the following few weeks as tolerated.

When will my leg look normal again?

Bruising and swelling resolve within 4-6 weeks, at which point appearance improves. Fading and resolution of treated veins continue over 2-3 months..

Are numbing injections the worst part of EVLT recovery?

For most patients, injection discomfort doesn’t exceed the typical dull pinch and brief burning sensations doctors aim to minimize based on your feedback

How long will I have bruising after my EVLT vein treatment?

Though alarming, bruising peaks around 5 days post-op but turns yellowish and largely resolves within 2 weeks along with swelling side effects.

When can I expect the results of my veins’ improved appearance after EVLT?

It takes several weeks to a month for sealed veins’ troubling appearance to fade. But troublesome symptoms may resolve much quicker.

Does EVLT have a high success rate?

Yes, 90%+ of patients enjoy lasting freedom from leg pain and visible varicose veins 5 years post-EVLT. Fewer than 10% of individuals may eventually show recurring problems over the long term.

Last Words

While EVLT allows most patients to walk out of the office and resume light activities the same day, taking it easy initially and gradually increasing physical demands over the next several weeks ensures you heal properly after surgery.

Closely follow your doctor’s instructions on elevating, wrapping, and caring for your leg after treatment. Allow 2-3 days for the worst swelling and pain to resolve. Then you can begin returning to your usual routine while avoiding overexertion that could damage healing veins.

With this complete EVLT recovery guide, you now know how to minimize downtime and discomfort after your procedure so you can get back on your feet. Be sure to attend all recommended follow-up visits to support the best possible outcome.


My name is Selina, a medical specialist blogger helping people access treatment for 5+ years. Although blogging awhile, only recently deeply engaged. This past year my most productive, providing hospital reviews and info on symptoms, diagnoses and diseases. Also offer guidelines to help readers navigate healthcare. Goal to continue increased content pace to assist many. Aim to facilitate treatment and empower advocacy through writing.

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