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Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Treatment

Your route to healthy veins.

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What is RFA?

Improved circulation through healthy blood flow restoration.

In Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), the doctor inserts a small catheter into the diseased vein through a small incision, under ultrasound guidance for an accurate and live view. Consistent and uniform heat is delivered to contract the collagen in the vein walls, causing them to collapse and close. After the vein is closed, blood is diverted to healthy veins which improves circulation. Over time, the treated vein is absorbed into surrounding tissue.

Radiofrequency ablation treatment, or RFA, is a safe, proven medical procedure that not only treats the symptoms of varicose veins, but also treats the underlying condition that causes them. The outpatient procedure time is usually less than an hour and does not require hospitalization. While some discomfort may be experienced after treatment, typically the discomfort diminishes within a few days.
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Why RFA?

Benefits of RFA treatment for varicose veins.

RFA treats the underlying condition that causes varicose veins and not just the symptoms. Below are a few reasons to consider this minimally-invasive approach to varicose vein treatment:

  • It’s safe, effective, and does not require hospitalization.
  • The outpatient procedure time is usually less than an hour.
  • Recovery time is generally a matter of hours.
  • Some studies show that the RFA procedure may be associated with less pain, bruising and complications when compared to other similar vein treatments.

Cost of Radiofrequency Ablation

Costs for RFA treatment depend on a few different factors.

The price of a radiofrequency ablation treatment varies depending on the physician’s diagnosis of the vein issue, as well as insurance coverage. Because treating vein disease is our specialty, we work with patients to discuss payment options that best fit your needs. Two popular options we have are CareCredit® and Flex Spend Accounts (FSA/HSA).

  • CareCredit® is a credit card made for out-of-pocket healthcare costs when insurance doesn’t fully cover treatments.
  • FSA and HSA are other options that may allow for reimbursement of health-related treatments and expenses, including those for vein disorders. However, always check with your plan’s administrator for options. For more information, visit our Financial Assistance page.

Potential Risks for Radiofrequency Ablation

While uncommon, with surgery there is always a potential risk.

Some possible risks of RFA treatment for varicose veins include:

  • Superficial skin infection. Infection is a potential risk with any procedure. As soon as the skin is broken, you may be at risk of infection. These are extremely rare as VCA staff is thoroughly trained on sterile and aseptic techniques which significantly reduces the risk for any infection.
  • Numbness. This is also rare but can occur. Most numbness improves within 3-6 months.
  • Allergic reaction to anesthetic or cleaning agent. If you are allergic to an anesthetic or an antiseptic skin cleanser, alternatives can be used, however, if you discover you are allergic during the procedure, medication can be administered and alternate products used on subsequent treatments.
  • Damage to surrounding blood vessels. The vascular system is very complex with numerous tiny vessels surrounding diseased veins. The appropriate use of ultrasound, in skilled hands, greatly reduces this risk.

How to Prepare for RFA Treatment

Preparation for treatment is minimal and requires very little from the patient.

What to expect during your initial consultation:

  • First, your provider will discuss your medical and health history to ensure you are in the proper health to undergo treatment.
  • Next, you’ll have a comprehensive ultrasound, where superficial veins are assessed and a map is drawn of your legs, demonstrating which veins are functioning properly, and which are diseased and require treatment.
  • Lastly, your provider will create a personalized treatment plan, describe the recommended procedures, and you will be scheduled for the first procedure.
  • Tip: Don’t forget to get plenty of sleep the night before treatment!

What to expect on the day of treatment:

  • Make sure to eat, drink and take all regular medications as you normally would leading up to the procedure unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and bring in your compression stockings.
  • The team will walk you through the entire procedure from start to finish so you know exactly what to expect.
  • Plan to be in the office for about 70-90 minutes, although the procedure itself should only take about 20 minutes.

What to expect following treatment:

  • Remember that you can return to almost all normal activities following treatment. Some patients come in during lunch hour and return to work after.
  • The team will provide you with take home instructions that will include aftercare tips, including activities you can and cannot resume, what you should expect to feel and more.
  • The team will schedule a follow-up appointment within 1 week of your procedure to check your recovery and determine if any additional treatments may be necessary.

There are cases where RFA may not be the best option to treat your veins — particularly when veins are too small, twisted, and/or close to the surface of the skin. In this case, sclerotherapy would be a better treatment. In order to improve your health, maximize your results, and restore your active lifestyle, your vein specialist will tailor a treatment plan specifically for your condition.

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Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects

The side effects following RFA are minimal, but may be more noticeable for some.

In the days and weeks following your vein procedure, you may experience the following:

  • Bruising and sensitivity at the injection sites.
  • Redness and warmth along the course of the vein.
  • Tightness of the vein, feeling as though you need to stretch.
  • Numbness or tingling in focal areas of your treated leg.

All of these are normal and mean the vein treatment is working. The majority of these will improve with the use of compression stockings and will fade within weeks or months.

Radiofrequency Ablation Recovery

Recovery is quick and fairly pain-free.

Recovery from radiofrequency ablation treatment should take minimal time, as it is an outpatient procedure. No hospitalization is required, and patients are back on their feet immediately following the procedure. In order to ensure a swift recovery and successful varicose vein treatment, here are a few things you should know:

  • Do try to avoid any strenuous activity for at least two weeks, as advised by your doctor.
  • Stay away from running or heavy exercise of any form for the 48 hours following the procedure.
  • Avoid sitting or standing for too long.
  • If you’re experiencing mild discomfort, with an ice pack, ibuprofen or over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Expect all pain to subside within 2-3 weeks of the procedure.

If you are interested in radiofrequency ablation (RFA) vein treatment, get in touch with Vein Clinics of America.

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