VEIN ABLATION SURGERY
What To Expect
Varicose vein ablation is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. Immediately before the procedure, the physician will perform duplex ultrasound to map the leg veins. Next, the physician will mark the varicose vein on the skin.
Although the techniques for radiofrequency ablation and laser ablation vary slightly, both treatments destroy tissues with heat. Radiofrequency energy comes from electric and magnetic energy and laser energy comes from light.
The physician passes a catheter (long, thin tube) through a small nick in the skin above the vein and moves the catheter to the end of the vein. The physician activates a radiofrequency generator or sends laser pulses through the catheter as he or she slowly retracts it. The heat destroys the tissue along the length of the vein. The vein collapses and is eventually reabsorbed by the body.
Occasionally, the patient may experience brief pain if the radiofrequency catheter or laser heats tissue near a nerve. This pain disappears once the physician moves the catheter.
The procedure takes about 60 minutes and may relieve symptoms immediately.
What is Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins)?
Varicose vein treatment, or endovenous ablation, is a minimally invasive treatment that uses radiofrequency or laser energy to cauterize (burn) and close abnormally enlarged veins in the legs, a condition called varicose veins.
Normally, blood circulates from the heart to the legs via arteries and back to the heart through veins. Veins contain one-way valves which allow blood to return from the legs against gravity. If the valves leak, blood pools in leg veins which can become enlarged or varicose.
Endovenous ablation is an image-guided procedure that uses heat generated by radiofrequency or laser energy to seal off these faulty vessels, diverting blood flow immediately to nearby healthy veins.
Benefits of Vein Ablation Treatment
- The treatment takes less than an hour and provides immediate relief of symptoms.
- Immediate return to normal activity with little or no pain. There may be minor soreness or bruising, which can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers.
- No scars or stitches – because the procedure does not require a surgical incision, just a nick in the skin, about the size of a pencil tip.
- High success rate and low recurrence rate compared to surgery.
- The success rate ranges for vein ablation ranges from 93 – 95 percent.
What are the limitations of Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins?
Ablation catheters cannot be easily passed through a tortuous vein, or a vessel with many turns and bends. Consequently, the procedure is typically used to treat larger varicose veins, such as the great saphenous vein, which extends from the groin down the inside of the thigh into the inner calf.
Endovenous ablation is successful at closing the abnormal target vein almost 100 percent of the time, but small dilated branches that persist in the skin often require additional treatment with phlebectomy (minor surgical procedure to extract them) or sclerotherapy (injection of a liquid medication to seal them off). Subsequent treatments are usually scheduled after an ablation procedure.