Vein ablation, formally known as endovenous ablation (EVA), is a minimally invasive treatment which uses radiofrequency or laser energy to cauterize (seal off) abnormal veins. This treatment means that healthier veins can function in the place of those faulty veins that are “ablated” (closed down or removed).
This helps alleviate the symptoms that are associated with varicose veins and venous insufficiency. These include heaviness, fatigue, swelling, throbbing, burning, itching, restless legs and cramping, which is often misdiagnosed as just a result of dehydration.
In the case of commonly utilized image-guided radiofrequency, energy is used to heat up the wall inside a vein and close it off. One primary target is the great saphenous vein (GSV) in the leg, which extends from the groin to the ankle via the inside of the thigh. The great saphenous vein is typically associated with varicose veins, a type of venous insufficiency. Other targets include the small saphenous veins (SSV), which lies in the back of the leg near the calf muscles and accessory veins, which can exist throughout the legs.
Endovenous ablation is a highly successful procedure resulting in fewer complications than traditional vein surgery and if any complications do occur, they are usually minor and short-lived. This procedure, which requires no general anesthesia or hospital stay, has a 98 percent success rate in treating varicose veins and venous insufficiency.
Normally, veins function to carry circulating blood back to the heart, with the vein valves stopping the blood from flowing backwards. When the veins have difficulty sending blood back to the heart from the limbs, causing the blood to pool in the leg veins, it is called venous insufficiency.
This condition can be caused by a number of factors. These include:
Symptoms of venous insufficiency include swelling, throbbing or tired legs, cramping, varicose veins and possibly changes in skin color on the affected leg(s). In more advanced stages of the condition, ulcers (sores) on the leg can form. Venous insufficiency is common, but more so in women than in men. It is also more likely to occur in those over age 50.
With endovenous ablation, the damaged veins of the legs are closed down, allowing blood to be rerouted to healthy veins, enabling improved blood circulation for those with venous insufficiency.
Endovenous ablation is for those with venous insufficiency or varicose veins. It is meant to alleviate the following symptoms:
Radiofrequency ablation works by viewing a vein via ultrasound, and then directing microwave radiation through a catheter (thin tube) that is inserted into the vein through a small incision. The heat from the radiofrequency energy damages the wall inside the vein, which causes it to close. The damaged vein then shrinks.
This procedure, which takes 25 to 30 minutes (several sessions may be required for multiple veins), enables a doctor to eliminate problem veins using a relatively simple needle puncture covered by a bandage. The alternative to ablation is traditional surgical procedures that may require general anesthesia, and which remove veins via larger incisions—all of which entails a painful recovery.
Radiofrequency ablation requires a brief recovery, and patients are able to leave the same-day procedure by walking. Recovery is measured in days as opposed to weeks for more traditional procedures.
Recovery from vein ablation is usually relatively quick. However, mild to moderate pain may be experienced following the procedure. This is usually alleviated with over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
While strenuous exercise is not recommended for several weeks, patients are encouraged to walk after the procedure. Bruising and mild discomfort are normal. The leg may be tender to the touch, and some swelling and cramping are also common. Patients are instructed to wear a compression sock for a period of time during recovery but may drive the day following the procedure.
Venous insufficiency is a common condition, with approximately 150,000 cases diagnosed each year. Chronic venous insufficiency is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Early diagnosis is important as venous insufficiency can result in various conditions such as varicose veins. Undiagnosed venous insufficiency can also result in serious consequences.
In addition to reviewing symptoms and conducting a physical examination, Dr. Arad can determine if you have venous insufficiency with various diagnostic tests, including an in office ultrasound.
We can also help keep you free of venous insufficiency and other vein problems. We provide lifestyle education and home care advice to help you avoid and manage problems, and quickly relieve any vein conditions using state-of-the-art treatments such as vein ablation.
You do not have to see veins in your leg to seek treatment. Vein disease is commonly based on symptoms and is often misdiagnosed. An ultrasound can help determine whether you have underlying vein issues and can help guide your treatment options.
Contact us today with any questions or concerns, or for an appointment.