Did you know that the same radio waves, or radiofrequency (RF), that allow you to bebop to the music around the house, or listen to the news broadcast in the car, can also be used in varicose vein treatment to eliminate varicose veins? Yes, it’s true. Radio waves that run between 20 kHz to 300 GHz on the electromagnetic spectrum can also be used for medical purposes, including minimally invasive endovenous varicose vein treatment procedures.
All the technical names and acronyms used in varicose vein treatment clinics is enough to make most people confused about which procedure does what. In this article, we’ll explore radiofrequency ablation (RFA), also known as radiofrequency closure, or more simply as radiofrequency varicose vein treatment. We’ll also tell you the advantages of radiofrequency ablation of varicose veins over laser ablation of varicose veins.
In March of 1999, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way to allow for the first radiofrequency varicose vein treatment procedure to proceed in the United States. The radiofrequency ablation technique uses energy in the form of high-frequency alternating current to destroy the collagen tissues in the wall of an offending varicose vein. This is accomplished in much the same way as endovenous laser treatment is performed on a dysfunctioning vein, except radio waves are used instead of laser heat in the frequency of 810 to 1470 nanometers.
During radiofrequency ablation varicose vein treatment, a very thin catheter is inserted into the varicose vein through a tiny skin prick above the target varicose vein. This radiofrequency energy is delivered in twenty second increments until the vessel wall begins to collapse and seal off from the blood supply.
This intense energy causes the vein wall to denature and begin to collapse. The shriveled up vein is not removed from the body. Instead, it is left in place for the body to reabsorb the tissue as it would the damaged tissue of any other wound. In most cases, this occurs within a few weeks of the procedure being done.
With radiofrequency ablation, there is far less chance for the vessel to be inadvertently punctured in a way that allows blood and fluids to leak out into the surrounding tissue. This happens far more frequently with laser varicose vein treatment, and when it does, it can cause a great deal of bruising and swelling in the area. This is also why radiofrequency ablation tends to be less painful than laser ablation of a vein.
If you want to know all the options available to you for varicose vein treatment, you’ll need to seek an evaluation at a varicose vein treatment clinic. Metro Vein Centers is an excellent choice for this evaluation as they perform a wide variety of procedures and can discuss with you the pros and cons of each one for your particular condition. Metro Vein Centers also offers a free evaluation if you simply call them and set up an appointment.
After the radiofrequency ablation varicose vein treatment, the patient is sent home with strict orders to walk as much as possible. This light exercise expedites the healing process and the reabsorption of the ablated vein. It also encourages the blood to find a new pathway through alternative healthier veins. As a result, edema is often drastically reduced within a few weeks. Generally speaking, the more you walk, the faster you heal. At minimum, a patient is told to walk twice a day for fifteen to thirty minutes each time.
The vein doctor almost always prescribes wearing gradient compression stockings, usually in the 30 to 40 mm Hg pressure range, for the first twenty four hours straight (including while they sleep) after a radiofrequency ablation varicose vein treatment procedure. They then usually instruct a patient to continue wearing their compression hose every day during the day, but to take them off at night during sleep, for at least two weeks. Some vein doctors will ask their patients to wear their gradient compression stockings for a longer period of time.
Although the exact timing will vary from doctor to doctor, a patient who has undergone radiofrequency ablation varicose vein treatment will be asked to return back to the varicose vein treatment clinic for a duplex ultrasound. This is done to ensure the procedure went as planned and there are no complications. If something goes wrong, it will sometimes be apparent by the symptoms the patient expresses. However, in other cases, the only way to tell is by doing a duplex ultrasound.
In a small percentage of the time, it will be discovered that the varicose vein did not seal properly and a second procedure will need to be conducted to complete the seal. It may also be discovered in this follow up ultrasound evaluation that there are feeder veins causing varicosities that also need to be fixed. In these cases, the vein doctor will usually wait a few weeks before performing this second procedure on the feeder veins.