RFA (radiofrequency ablation) is an alternative approach to treating unsightly varicose veins. Also referred to as endovenous RFA, the procedure itself is a minimally invasive way to address varicose veins. The process involves making a tiny incision close to the knee and then threading a catheter into the patient’s vein up to their groin.
Next, radiofrequency waves are carefully applied while the vein is heated. The varicose vein will eventually disappear due to the heat destroying the vein. This innovative procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis and results in a quick recovery as well.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins refer to blue, red, or skin-colored enlarged veins that are typically raised above the surface of the skin on the legs, with a bulging, twisting appearance. Once the valves in the veins that transport blood from your legs to your heart no longer work properly, it causes the blood to pool, resulting in varicose veins.
How Does the RFA Process Work?
A probe is gently inserted into the patient’s vein. Once the probe is turned on, it generates heat through the vein. This heat produced by the probe makes the vein collapse. Once it collapses, a thin fibrous scar takes its place. The procedure is permanent and there are no possibilities of varicosities happening in that area.
Benefits of RFA Vein Treatment
When compared to the traditional procedures for treating varicose veins, RFA vein treatment offers a variety of benefits, some of which include:
- Minimally invasive procedure
- Quick and safe
- Less pain and bruising
- Little pain following the procedure
- Only requires one tiny incision
- General anesthesia not required
- Very little downtime for recovery, most patients go back to work in a few days
Who is a Good Candidate for RFA?
To determine if you’re a good candidate for RFA, your doctor will ask you some questions during your initial examination. They will also obtain other information from you including:
- Detailed evaluation of your legs
- Physical exam and history
- Explanation of possible procedures
Sometimes an ultrasound is required and considered part of the diagnostic procedure. The NIVA (Non-Invasive Vascular Assessment) takes about 45 minutes for each leg.
The next step is to consult with your doctor, where you will meet to go over and understand the results of your ultrasound, develop a good plan for treatment.
Once the RFA procedure is finished, your body will automatically re-route the blood flow in your legs through stronger, much healthier veins. In time, the ablated vein will naturally become scar tissue and then eventually get absorbed by your body. Normal circulation is restored and works to relieve the distention of the veins along the surface of your skin. The healthier veins in your legs take over and normal blood flow is restored to your leg, which greatly helps alleviate any swelling, discoloration, and pain overall.
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