One of a few options for use to treat varicose veins is called Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA). This remarkable treatment method provides less invasive means for treating Chronic Venous Insufficiency without surgically removing the varicose vein.
What is RFA
Ultrasound guided Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), is a procedure that is used to treat varicose veins. Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins. These veins are typically found around the legs and ankles.
Ultrasound guided RF ablation for varicose veins uses radiofrequency within a catheter to eliminate blood flow to varicose veins. Heat is created from a catheter through radio frequency, which then closes off blood flow from the source varicose vein in the leg causing the issue.
The body naturally reroutes the blood flow through other functioning veins.
How Does The Procedure Work?
RFA uses heat generated from the radio waves in a catheter to target specific varicose veins. A catheter is inserted into the varicose vein, and heat generated through the catheter damages vein tissue.
The generated heat use will close off blood flow from the specific varicose vein. The walls of the varicose vein close, keeping the leg vein from swelling. This redirects blood flow to more healthy leg veins.
What will I experience during and after the procedure?
The procedure typically lasts a short period of 30 to 45 minutes, plus a short recovery period.
The patient is then prepared by using a local anesthetic near the incision point to numb the treated area. The patient may experience minimal discomfort during this process. Additionally, the patient remains awake during the entire process.
With the aid of an ultrasound, the doctor then directs a small, hollow needle into the varicose vein. Ultrasound allows for doctors to watch the needle’s movement in real-time on a monitor to make sure that the needle travels to the correct location. Although some discomfort may occur, patients typically only feel pressure rather than pain.
Once the needle reaches the desired location of the varicose vein, the patient is numbed by using a medication. Then, a radiofrequency current is sent into a catheter with a heated tip. The heat from the catheter causes the vein to collapse as the catheter is withdrawn through the vein.
RFA is an office procedure, so the patient will return home following the treatment. The area of incision must be kept dry at all times to reduce any chance for infection. However, it is okay for a patient to shower the next day and remove bandages from the procedure.
Any strenuous activities shouldbe avoided for a short period of time. Following the procedure the patient will wear compression stockings to allow the treated area to heal. The patient will be seen by the doctor after one week and one month so the effectiveness of the treatment can be confirmed.
In addition, it is common to feel slight soreness in the treated area of the incision for a few days. Most patients are able to return to work and perform regular activities within one to two days.
Is RFA Safe?
Radiofrequency ablation has proven to be a safe and effective varicose vein treatment. Generally, radiofrequency ablation is also well-tolerated, but there is a possibility for side effects and complications to occur. Radiofrequency ablation can result in side effects including:
- Infection near vein insertion site
- Skin burns
- Prickling or burning sensations on skin
- Nerve damage
- Blood clotting in the closed vein
Consulting your doctor for proper care is a great way to answer any questions you may have about radiofrequency ablation. Dr Panayidies has been treating patients with RF ablation for over 10 years.
How well does RFA work?
Radiofrequency ablation successfully closes varicose veins permanently in roughly 90% of patients. In any event that a varicose vein does not properly close, these veins may be treated again through another ablation or alternate procedure.
How Should I Prepare?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions about how to prepare for a radiofrequency ablation based on your medical condition. If you have any questions regarding these preparations please contact our office
Phlebectomy of Varicose Veins
Phlebectomy (also known as microphlebectomy, ambulatory phlebectomy, or stab avulsion) is a technique that is used to remove varicose veins. During this procedure, multiple small incisions are made in the skin through which the varicose vein is removed. A compression stocking is typically issued following the procedure.
This procedure is performed in our office. It may be completed under light sedation with anesthesia if the patient prefers.
Phlebectomy can be done along with another treatment for varicose veins such as radiofrequency ablation.