Radiofrequency ablation (RA) is one of the exciting new, minimally invasive techniques replacing the old vein stripping procedure of the old days of varicose vein treatment. With RA, Dr. Rao uses a thin catheter to introduce heat via radiofrequency energy (as opposed to laser energy) into the diseased vein, causing it to close and permanently seal shut. Blood is naturally rerouted to healthier veins nearby, and the varicose vein is gradually reabsorbed by the body and disappears from view. RA is appropriate for use on the large veins of the leg, including the great saphenous vein.
What to Expect
During the procedure, you will be awake and comfortable. Local anesthetics are used along the length of the vein to be treated, and the catheter is inserted through a tiny incision in the skin. Once the radiofrequencyenergy is introduced, the vein closes, the catheter is withdrawn and the procedure is over. RA can be carried out right in our comfortable vein clinic in Houston on an outpatient basis, with no need to visit a hospital or experience lengthy recovery times. In fact, the procedure takes just 30-45 minutes, and you’ll be up and on your way shortly afterwards.
After the Procedure
Your leg will be wrapped in an elastic bandage (compression stocking) for a few days, during which time you can continue with work and life as usual. Pain after the procedure is minimal. Then you’ll return for a brief follow-up visit to ensure the vein is completely sealed shut, and most of our patients are back to their full activity schedule within just a few days. RA is typically definitive, meaning no further treatments are needed. Our patients are generally delighted with the results, which are long lasting and involve much less discomfort than previous vein treatment techniques. It is recommended that patients continue moving and walking as much as possible to allow for proper blood flow. There should be no scarring after the procedure, but it is notunusual to feel hard tender knots on the skin surface (with some redness) since it is a sign of the vein closing.