Varicose veins are unsightly and can be painful. In the past, the method for treating them was called vein stripping. This surgical procedure was where an incision was made and the vein in question was grasped and removed. Vein stripping can involve complications, plus it also requires time off work and the patient has to put off most recreational activities for a few weeks.
At The Vein Clinic, Dr. Reynolds prefers radiofrequency ablation for addressing varicose veins. Utilizing radiofrequency (RF) energy to heat the interior of the vein, making it close off, RF ablation is a highly successful approach to removing varicose veins. It is an easy procedure for the patient with little recovery necessary.
What Is ClosureFast (Radiofrequency Ablation)?
You may have heard of endovenous laser ablation of varicose veins. This uses thermal energy to damage the vein. The same is true with RF ablation, but we find that patients have less discomfort with RF ablation.
The procedure involves the insertion of an RF fiber into the vein. The RF energy converts to heat, damages the vein walls, and causes sclerosis (closing off) of the vein. The procedure is very successful with minimal discomfort afterwards.
Am I a Candidate for ClosureFast?
Since ClosureFast is a minimally invasive procedure with virtually no recovery, just about anyone bothered by varicose veins can have this procedure. Patients considering this treatment should first have tried conservative treatments for varicose veins, such as wearing compression stockings, exercise (particularly involving your legs), weight loss, and elevating your legs while sitting.
After applying local anesthetic at the site of the initial catheter insertion, the procedure involves five steps.
1. Using ultrasound guidance to locate the vein, Dr. Reynolds inserts a thin RF fiber through a tiny entry point, usually near the knee. The RF fiber is advanced to where the treatment will begin.
2. Next, a local anesthetic is applied along the length of the vein. This enhances patient comfort and improves contact between the RF fiber and the vein wall.
3. The RF fiber has a 7 cm-long active tip. It releases the RF energy along this 7 cm length for a period of only 20-40 seconds.
4. The radiofrequency energy released from the tip produces a thermal reaction in the vein wall along the 7centimeters, causing the wall to collapse and the vein to close off.
5. The RF fiber is then pulled back to the next section and process is repeated until the length of the vein is treated.
Does Radiofrequency Ablation Hurt?
Dr. Reynolds applies local anesthetic, both to the area of the initial tiny incision and then along the treatment area of the vein. You feel nothing during the procedure. Afterwards, you can have some minor soreness for up to a week or so, but it is minimal and easily managed with over-the-counter ibuprofen.
Because RF ablation uses lower temperatures than endovenous laser ablation, our patients find RF ablation to be more comfortable after treatment compared to the laser option.
RF Ablation Risks
Complications are very rare with RF ablation. There is a possibility of deep vein thrombosis or clotting. Nerve damage to surface sensory veins is possible, but these nerves usually return to normal in a few weeks to months.
Research has shown RF ablation to be highly successful, with success rates of around 95 percent. This procedure also has far fewer complications compared with vein stripping surgery.
What Happens Following My Treatment?
We’ll put you in compression stockings immediately after your procedure. These help ensure the vein stays closed and jumpstarts the process of the body to eventually absorb the now-unused vein. You’ll wear your stockings overnight for the first night. After that, you’ll wear them during the day for at least two weeks.
Before you leave our office, we will require you to take a 20-30 minute walk. Then you can drive home. From there, walking at least 30 minutes each day is mandatory. You can return to normal activities immediately but should avoid standing still for long periods, and you’ll need to avoid long-haul flights for at least 3-4 weeks. Dr. Reynolds will have you return for an ultrasound check of your treated veins two weeks after your treatment.