Radiofrequency Occlusion for Varicose Veins
Radiofrequency occlusion, also know as radio frequency ablation or RFA, is a minimally invasive technique for treating varicose veins. During treatment, RF energy that is emitted from a catheter causes vein walls to collapse and blood to be naturally rerouted to healthier veins.
Radiofrequency Occlusion for Varicose Veins
- avg. recovery
About the Procedure
Varicose veins are dilated and rope-like veins that typically appear on the lower extremities. When the valves inside of veins are unable to efficiently transport blood, the blood begins to pool and bulge. Any vein can become varicose, although the legs are more commonly affected since blood flow is constantly working against gravity to recirculate blood. Varicose veins are common and are usually just cosmetic, although sometimes they can be an indicator of a more serious health issue. Once it is determined that there is no underlying health concern, varicose veins can be easily treated with a simple, in office procedure such as radiofrequency occlusion. Radiofrequency occlusion is a minimally invasive treatment that helps to reduce and eliminate the appearance of unsightly varicose veins. This treatment uses RF energy to collapse and harden vein walls, causing the vein to close and blood to no longer flow through that vein. With no blood flowing through the vein, the bulging effect disappears. RF occlusion, unlike ambulatory phlebotomy and ligation and stripping methods, does not actually remove the vein from the body. However, RF occlusion can be performed prior to a vein removal surgery. Ultrasound technology will be used to determine the location of the varicose vein and will help guide the surgeon for accurate placement of the initial needle insertion. The insertion point will be anesthetized with a local numbing agent for patient comfort and a series of guide wires and dilators will be inserted into the affected vein. The guide wires and dilators will then be removed so the radiofrequency ablation catheter fiber can be inserted. Once the fiber is in position, a tumescent fluid will be injected around the compartment that surrounds the vein. This not only provides patient comfort, but helps to protect surrounding tissue from the RF heat and improves contact between the vein wall and the catheter during treatment. Treatment then begins by ablating 3-7cm sections for 20-40 second intervals with RF energy as the fiber is drawn out of the leg. Once treatment is complete, the leg will be wrapped in a compressive dressing to help prevent swelling. Initial results can be seen after 1 week however final results are determined after 3-4 weeks.
The goal of varicose vein treatment is to reduce the appearance of bulging, unsightly, and at times painful varicose veins, typically on the legs.
What to Expect
Radiofrequency occlusion, also know as radio frequency ablation or RFA, is a minimally invasive technique for treating varicose veins. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after a radiofrequency occlusion treatment.
No special measures need to be taken before a radiofrequency occlusion procedure.
- Ultrasound used to determine the location of the varicose vein
- Needle inserted for guide wires and dilators to make path for RF fiber
- Guide wires and dilators removed and RF fiber inserted
- Tumescent fluid injected around the vein
- Vein ablated every 3-7cm for 20-40 second intervals
- Once complete, leg will be wrapped in a compressive dressing
After the procedure, the leg will be bandaged from the foot to the top of the treated vein. Patients typically return to their regular activities within 24 hours, but may be asked to walk daily and avoid very strenuous activity or long periods of standing for a couple of weeks.
The ideal candidate for radiofrequency occlusion has fairly large, straight, varicose veins in the legs.
Not Recommended For
Radiofrequency occlusion is not recommended for patients whose circulatory issue that originally caused the varicose veins has not been addressed, as the appearance of future varicose veins is then possible.
Side effects of radiofrequency occlusion for varicose veins may include bruising, pain, and a small risk of regrowth of veins. Other side effects can include swelling, change in skin pigmentation, nerve injuries, and superficial thrombophlebitis, a blood clot in a superficial vein.