Varicose veins develop when blood pools behind weak or damaged internal valves, putting repeated pressure on local vessel walls that eventually causes them to swell, twist, bulge, and distort — or become varicose.
A common sign of both peripheral vascular disease and chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins happen most often in the legs. Beyond their conspicuous appearance, these varicosities can give rise to bothersome symptoms like leg pain or cramping, persistent swelling, and skin changes.
Luckily, conventional vein stripping surgery is no longer the only way to get rid of problematic varicose veins. At Somerset Surgical Associates, LLC, our skilled vascular specialists offer a full scope of minimally invasive varicose vein solutions, including venous ablation.
Here, we explain how this innovative vein removal treatment works, and what you can expect each step of the way.
Venous ablation is a minimally invasive vein closure technique that uses controlled thermal energy to get rid of problematic varicose veins. Also known as radiofrequency ablation (RFA), it’s an effective solution for unwanted varicose veins — and the treatment of choice for superficial venous reflux, or varicose veins that have become inflamed, cramped, and painful.
As with sclerotherapy, the primary goal of venous ablation is to seal off the damaged vein so it’s no longer in use. As your blood flow naturally reroutes itself into nearby healthy veins, the treated vein collapses, forms into harmless scar tissue, and gradually fades away.
Prior to scheduling your venous ablation treatment, our team goes over your medical history, discussing your vein symptoms as well as any other health conditions you may have. We’ll also ask for a comprehensive list of any vitamins, supplements, or medications you may take.
If you need to temporarily stop taking any medications, vitamins, or supplements before your procedure, we’ll give you detailed instructions on which you should avoid and for how long.
Venous ablation is a quick outpatient procedure that takes about an hour. The preparatory and aftercare phases account for most of this time; the treatment itself only takes a few minutes.
At the start of your procedure, you receive a local anesthesia to keep the area around your vein comfortably numb. Using noninvasive ultrasound imaging to visualize the problematic vein in its entirety, we then make a tiny incision over the planned entry point.
Next, we insert an ultra-thin catheter through the incision, using the ultrasound to guide it smoothly into your vein. The catheter contains a specialized device that emits RF energy waves when activated. We may inject more numbing medication around your vein at this point.
Once the catheter is in position, we activate the RFA device and draw it slowly back out of your vein. As the catheter travels backward, the device delivers controlled heat into the vessel wall, causing it to contract and collapse inward in a matter of minutes. This action effectively seals off the treated vein, forcing your blood flow to redirect itself to nearby healthy veins.
Once the catheter is removed, we apply gentle pressure to the incision to stop any bleeding and then cover the site with a bandage. Most people don’t require stitches. We also help you don a compression stocking to promote optimal blood flow in your treated leg.
Before you leave the office, we confirm complete vein closure with a final ultrasound and give you post-procedural instructions to help facilitate an optimal recovery. Besides wearing your compression garment as recommended, it’s also important to: