In this method, a thin catheter is gently inserted into the vein through the skin. The catheter emits radio waves, which heat specific areas of the affected vein, causing it to close. The catheter is withdrawn and the healing process begins almost immediately. The closed vein is then reabsorbed into the body and the blood supply in that area is naturally rerouted through other, healthier veins.
When is this method used?
This method is an alternative to the traditional stripping operation. Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat the great saphenous vein, the small saphenous vein, straight side brances of the great or small saphenous veins and some perforator veins. The latter are connecting veins that transport blood from the superficial veins under to skin to the deep veins under the muscles.
What kind of results are achieved?
When done by a doctor with plenty of radiofrequency experience, chances of treatment success are good. Radiofrequency closure works well in about 97 out of 100 people who have it. Pain after treatment is typically less after ablation than after vein surgery. After 5 years or more, results from ablation are generally as good as from vein surgery.
What should you do going forward or post-treatment to ensure vein health?
Exercising, maintaining a healthy body weight and not spending long periods sitting or standing can help ensure vein health. Also check in with your doctor if you notice new veins or you condition not improving. Veins that do not close are treated again.