Endovenous ablation, also referred to as endovenous thermal ablation, is a minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins. It utilizes high-frequency radio waves to generate localized, intensive heat inside the problem vein. The heat is targeted through a catheter. It closes off varicose veins, but leaves them where they are to minimize bleeding and bruising. Most patients prefer endovenous ablation to other treatments because there is minimal pain and recovery.
Your venous expert will do a few tests before the procedure to ensure you are in good health to complete it. Some medications may need to be avoided for several days or weeks before the procedure. In most cases, there is little preparation required for your appointment, but if there is, your vein expert will provide you with instructions that must be followed.
Only a local anesthetic is used during the procedure – so you will be awake. In some severe cases, you may need general anesthesia or a sedative. The specialist will then use an ultrasound to locate the veins so that the catheter can be inserted into them. Most times this insertion is done just below the knee. A solution of salt and anesthetic is then injected into the vein that will be treated. Then, the ablation will be performed.
Immediately following the procedure, your surgeon will apply a bandage and possibly a compression stocking. Most endovenous procedures last two to three hours, but they are done as an outpatient procedure – so you will be able to go home the same day.
After a few hours, you will be able to go home. Total recovery time averages from one to two weeks, so you will need to take it easy from activities, including work. Bruising and slight swelling could occur in the treated areas. If you have pain, it should be mild and an over-the-counter pain reliever will relieve that pain. In some cases, your legs may appear better immediately after, but for other patients it could take a few weeks for the varicose veins to dissipate.
You will be given specific aftercare instructions by your specialist, but some common care tips will include:
It is unlikely you will suffer from any severe complications, but there are some risks that you could face, including: