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Varicose veins are enlarged, sometimes twisted veins that most often develop in the leg. They can be hereditary, tending to run in families. They can be worse during or after pregnancy, or if you are overweight. While they can be uncomfortable and unsightly, they don’t usually cause any serious health problems.

Veins carry blood to the heart. Along the length of all veins are valves, which only let the blood flow in one direction. The valves in the legs have to work harder to pump the blood that extra distance and problems occur when these valves become weak and don’t close properly. The blood flows backwards and pools in the veins. This causes the valves to weaken under the pressure and become enlarged and bulging in appearance- what we call varicose veins.

Left untreated varicose veins can result in leg pain and cramping, leg and ankle swelling and unsightly bulging veins.

What happens during radiofrequency ablation for varicose veins?

Radio frequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure to eliminate your varicose veins. It is usually done under local anaesthetic and takes 45 - 60 minutes. You surgeon will insert a tiny catheter through a small puncture in your lower leg. They will heat the enlarged vein causing it to shrink and close. Don’t worry, once the vein is closed blood will naturally reroute to other healthy veins. The puncture site will be bandaged and compression may be applied.

Going home after radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is usually performed on an outpatient basis meaning you will be able to go home the day of your procedure.

Many patients notice immediate relief but you should allow 1-2 weeks before you see the full benefit. Your surgeon may encourage you to walk frequently and avoid standing or sitting for long periods immediately after your procedure. You can usually return to normal activities the day after your radiofrequency ablation. 

Most patients are very pleased with the results of their radiofrequency ablation for varicose veins. As with any procedure there can be complications:

  • Vein puncture
  • Blood clots
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Phlebitis (leg inflammation)
  • Hematoma (collection of blood)
  • Infection
  • Burning of the skin

This procedure may not be appropriate for patients with cardiovascular problems. Be sure and discuss radiofrequency ablation with your Consultant Cardiovascular Surgeon before investigating this procedure.

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