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Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment for
varicose veins. (Ablation means a doctor uses heat to
damage tissue, which makes scar tissue form. This scar tissue closes the vein.)
This technique uses radiofrequency energy (instead of laser energy) to heat up
and damage the wall inside a vein. This usually closes off a varicose vein in
To treat a varicose vein, radiofrequency energy is directed through a
thin tube (catheter) inserted through a small incision in the vein. It can be
used on large veins in the leg and can be done in an office setting using
local anesthesia or a mild
sedative. You will be able to walk following the treatment and recovery typically is short.
treatment, you will wear compression stockings for 1 week or
more. To follow up, your doctor will use duplex ultrasound to make sure that
the vein is closed.
Possible side effects of radiofrequency ablation include:
The more experience your doctor has had with radiofrequency, the
less risk you are likely to have. Talk to your
doctor about how often these side effects happen in his or her practice.
Radiofrequency ablation closes off varicose veins in about 88 out of 100 people. That means it doesn't work in about 12 out of 100
For help deciding whether to have a procedure for varicose veins, see:
If you are thinking of radiofrequency ablation treatment,
questions to ask about varicose vein treatment. These
questions include: How much experience does the doctor have with the particular
treatment? How much do the exam and treatment cost? How many treatments does
the doctor think you will need?
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Van den Bos R, et al. (2009). Endovenous therapies of lower extremity varicosities: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 49(1): 230–239.
Other Works Consulted
Khilnani NM, et al. (2010). Multi-society consensus quality improvement guidelines for the treatment of lower extremity superficial venous insufficiency with endovenous thermal ablation from the Society of Interventional Radiology, Cardiovascular Interventional Radiological Society of Europe, American College of Phlebology, and Canadian Interventional Radiology Association. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, 21(1): 14–31.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
Current as ofJune 4, 2016
Current as of:
June 4, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
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