What Is Varicose Vein Ablation? A Doctor’s Guide to Your FAQs

May 11, 2020 • karnold • Varicose Veins

If you have questions about varicose vein treatments, now is a good time to get some insight into how ablation works. Varicose veins are more than just blemishes on your legs, they can also be the source of discomfort and swelling that can ultimately threaten your circulation. 

What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Ablation treats the primary culprit of your varicose veins, also known as the saphenous vein. This crucial vessel is how blood gets back and forth from your heart and legs, and it uses one-way valves to defy gravity on its way back up to your heart. Sometimes, those valves can malfunction and begin to leak, causing blood to cluster and varicose veins to enlarge.  With radiofrequency ablation, the openings are cauterized and closed, so the abnormal veins can begin functioning correctly again. You may have also heard about varicose laser ablation treatment, a procedure that uses lasers rather than radiofrequency to treat the problem.

How Does Ablation Treat the Vein? Is Ablation Invasive Surgery?

Ablation is considered a minimally invasive procedure as it only requires a small skin puncture to treat the vein. During the procedure, a thin catheter is inserted into the vein. This special tube is flexible enough to treat the length of the vein, irritating it just enough to develop scar tissue and close on its own. 

Will Ablation Interfere with My Blood Flow?

Yes, but not in a way that will negatively impact your health. A varicose vein isn’t transferring blood the way it should, and the prolonged pooling will make your circulation worse over time. Luckily, your body was built with contingency plans in mind and can easily pick up the slack if you undergo ablation to treat the superficial veins. You have a sophisticated deep vein system that can handle the adjustment of the ablation, something that will almost certainly improve your overall blood flow. 

What Can I Expect After the Treatment?

There are a few notable facts about the effects and results of ablation:
  • Results: You may begin to see a reduction of vein swelling about a week after treatment, but full results may take up to several months. 
  • Recovery: Patients can walk right after treatment, but should not engage in strenuous activity for 2 to 3 weeks after ablation. 
  • Recurrence: Ablation does not guarantee that varicose veins won’t come back. Individual recurrence rates depend on everything from age to genetics to lifestyle
  • Risks: In rare cases, ablation can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a clot in the deep vein system. DVT can usually be addressed with a short course of blood thinners.

What If the Ablation Doesn’t Work?

For most patients, the worst-case scenario is a lack of complete disappearance of varicose veins. If you can still see its calling card, you still have options. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a specialized solution that will harden in the vein to further encourage it to close. Vein specialists may also try microphlebectomy, a process that removes the vein with a surgical hook through tiny holes along the vein. Both treatments are minimally invasive and, in the case of a microphlebectomy, result in minimal scarring. If you have more questions or want to schedule a consultation for varicose vein treatments, Desert Vein Institute is here to help. We invite you to meet our vein physicians in Las Vegas and learn more today.

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