Having vein and vascular issues can cause you great discomfort. Finding vein and vascular care can provide significant relief from symptoms. Cardiovascular Medicine is proud to offer a state-of-the-art vein treatment center to treat all types of venous diseases, including varicose veins.
When to See a Vein Specialist
Venous disorders can cause damage to your veins, so it’s important to seek treatment if you’re experiencing symptoms. Our vein specialists can help you understand what is causing you discomfort with thorough diagnostic testing. We are able to provide relief for those with various venous conditions, including:
Diagnosing venous disorders can involve many different techniques. Conditions such as varicose veins are often visible, so we begin by conducting a physical examination. Understanding the cause and extent of venous disease sometimes requires seeing how well your blood is flowing—tests such as venous Doppler ultrasound can help us get an accurate diagnosis.
Vein & Vascular Treatments
We have two main goals when treating your venous condition: alleviating your discomfort and improving blood flow. If your vein and vascular issues become severe, we are able to help. Our minimally-invasive treatment options will help you feel better and get back to your normal life within a few days. They include:
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Veins are flexible, flap-like tubes with hollow interiors that contain valves. These valves open and close as your muscles contract to keep blood flowing in one direction – toward the heart. Venous disease can damage these valves, preventing them from closing fully. As a result, blood can seep backward and pool in the veins.
If left untreated, the increasing pressure can eventually lead to the failure of more valves, causing significant leg discomfort, edema, ulceration, and other medical issues. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radio waves to cauterize affected veins, effectively preventing the backflow of blood to the affected vein and forcing the vascular system to reroute blood to healthier veins. The goal of the treatment is to reduce your symptoms and decrease the risk of complications that can develop from venous disease, including blood clots.
What to Expect
Ablation refers to the application of radiofrequency (by a vein specialist) to heat up the vein wall and close the damaged vein with scar tissue. To begin, one of our vein care experts will numb a small area of your leg. Using ultrasound as a guide, they will position a small catheter into the damaged vein through a tiny opening in your skin. Your doctor will insert the catheter into your vein and use it to deliver radiofrequency (RF) energy to the vein wall.
As the RF energy is delivered and the catheter is withdrawn, the vein wall is heated. This causes the wall to shrink and the vein to close. Once the diseased vein collapses and seals, blood is re-routed to other healthy veins, and the treated vein becomes scar tissue, which is absorbed by your body.
Radiofrequency ablation typically takes one to two hours to complete. Following the procedure, a bandage will be placed over the insertion site and your leg will be wrapped to aid healing.
The recovery period after radiofrequency ablation is minimal. Your doctor will encourage you to get up and walk at least a few times a day to get your blood flowing into your healthier veins.
Typically, patients are asked to refrain from extended standing and strenuous activities (like lifting heavy objects) for a short period of time. You may resume normal activity in one to two days, but there are a few more things you may be asked to do to help the recovery process, including:
- Wearing compression stockings
- Keeping your legs elevated
- Avoiding air travel, hot baths, saunas, or whirlpools
At your follow-up appointment, your doctor will use an ultrasound to verify that blood has been effectively rerouted away from the damaged vein. Patients generally report high satisfaction with RFA. The procedure can be performed in a doctor's office in less than an hour and has a 98 percent success rate in the treatment of varicose veins.
Risks & Side Effects
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with radiofrequency ablation. Precautions are taken to decrease the chances of side effects occurring, such as skin burns near the treatment location or bruising and pain along the site of ablation.
Side effects are less likely to occur after RFA compared to a vein stripping surgery, but could last anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks after the surgery. To relieve inflammation, you can apply an ice pack to the painful location or use topical and oral medications.
During your follow-up appointment, an ultrasound will help your vein care specialist determine if there is a blood clot developing. But keep in mind, this is extremely rare.
Am I a Candidate?
To determine eligibility, you’ll first need a clinical evaluation, which may include:
- History and physical exam
- Ultrasound or other diagnostic techniques to get a detailed assessment of your legs
- Pictures of your varicose veins for reference
During your evaluation, your doctor will take into account other risk factors that may make you a good candidate for the procedure. For example, if you have a family history of varicose veins or venous disease, or you have already been diagnosed with varicose veins or venous disease. Age, excess weight, and a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing vein disorders.
If RFA is not right for you, we have a number of vein care techniques that we can explore to alleviate your discomfort and provide relief.
More on Radiofrequency Ablation
Understanding Varicose Veins
When your blood "backs up" or pools, it cannot return to the heart correctly through the vein. This results in congestion and pressure build-up that can lead to varicose veins and other skin abnormalities. The veins may bulge, twist, and stand out under your skin, causing additional symptoms, including:
Additional Risks and Side Effects
Possible side effects of radiofrequency ablation include
- Skin burns may develop at the treatment location (similar to a sunburn)
- Feelings of burning, pain, or prickling after recovery (due to irritation of the nerves)
- Small or large blood clotting in the vein or a deep vein
- Bruising and pain along the site of ablation.