Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a less invasive way of treating varicose veins compared to stripping. It can be done using a local anaesthetic and/or a mild sedative. There are no long cuts in the legs, which allows for a quick recovery and an early return to work. RFA is associated with fewer complications than invasive surgery, the procedure is well tolerated by patients and it produces good cosmetic results. Although the procedure only uses local anaesthetic it is done in a day-surgery unit.
Varicose veins are treated by inserting a thin tube (catheter) into a small incision in the vein through which radiofrequency energy is directed. You are able to walk following treatment and recovery is typically short. You will be required to wear compression stockings for 6 weeks and a follow-up scan will be required.
Pain after treatment with RFA is typically less than after vein surgery but results from RFA are generally as good as from vein surgery. Complications from the procedure are rare but may include - minor skin burns, a feeling of numbness or prickling in the treated area, but this is usually temporary and resolves within 1 – 2 weeks.
- you will be able to walk immediately after the procedure,
- you will have bandages on your leg(s) for the first 24 hours,
- after 24 hours remove the bandages and apply your thigh high compression stockings and continue to wear these for a further 48 hours,
- on the evening of the third day after your procedure you may remove the stockings, shower, and remove the dressings,
- you may go to bed without the stockings on but you must apply the stockings every morning on the treated leg(s) and remove in the evening just before bed for the next 6 weeks
- follow up ultrasound and review appointment will be booked by the rooms for the week after surgery,
- veins that do not close can be treated again using RFA or another type of procedure.