Radiofrequency Vein Ablation

Radiofrequency vein ablation is an alternative to vein stripping surgery of the past. It requires much less recovery time and is an in office procedure. Usually you will be asked to wear compression stockings and to elevate your lower extremities first. If these measures do not improve your symptoms you may be scheduled for a vein ablation.

What is it?

To treat a varicose vein, radiofrequency energy is directed through a thin tube (catheter) inserted through a small incision in the vein. It can be used on large veins in the leg and can be done in an office setting using local anesthesia or a mild sedative. Ablation means a doctor uses heat (instead of laser energy) to damage tissue, which causes scar tissue to form. This scar tissue closes off a varicose vein and redirects blood flow to healthier veins.

Preparation for Procedure

You will be asked to have nothing to eat or drink on the morning of your procedure. If your procedure is scheduled for the afternoon, you may eat a light breakfast of juice and toast before 8:00 AM.

A prescription for three doses of Xanax will be called to your pharmacy. You will need to pickup the prescription and bring the medication with you to your procedure. You will take the first tablet when you arrive at the office. Due to the sedative effects of this medication, you will be required to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

The other two Xanax tablets will be brought into the procedure with you. If you require additional medication during the procedure we will give it to you.

Make sure to shower or bathe prior to the procedure and do not use any powders or lotions the day of the procedure.

What to Expect

A nurse and an ultrasound technologist will prepare you for the procedure. You will change into a gown. Since it is a sterile procedure, the site will be thoroughly cleansed with a liquid soap. The ultrasound technologist will then re-scan your leg and mark the pathway of the vein with a marker.

The physician will use a medication to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted. Once the physician has the catheter in place, a small needle will be used to numb the length of the vein being to be treated.

The actual Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) treatment time is approximately 2 to 4 minutes. However, the overall procedure time may vary from one to two hours. After the catheter is removed, steri-strips are placed over the entrance site and a small bandage is placed over it. Thigh high compression stockings are applied which you will wear for the next 24 hours. You will be able to remove the compression stockings and shower after 24 hours but then you must reapply the stockings and wear day and night for three days. After the three days, you will also need to wear them during the day for the next two weeks (you can take them off during bedtime).

Below are some additional requirements that you must follow after your procedure:

  • No aerobic exercise for two weeks
  • Walk twice a day for 20 minutes
  • Avoid prolonged sitting or standing for the first week
  • Elevate your legs 3 times a day for 5-10 minutes

You will be scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound at one week, then a follow-up appointment with the doctor at one month, three months, 6 months and one year after your procedure.