Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) – for leg veins
Do you have varicose veins and venous insufficiency?
Radiofrequency (RF) endovenous ablation is one of several minimally invasive treatments for varicose veins. The RF procedure involves the use of ultrasound to guide a radiofrequency catheter into a diseased vein to heat and seal it, diverting blood flow to healthier veins. This procedure treats venous reflux disease — often referred to as venous insufficiency — which is the underlying cause of severe varicose veins.
- What are varicose veins?
- What is chronic venous insufficiency?
- What are the signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency?
- Are there risk factors for venous insufficiency?
- What are the benefits of radiofrequency ablation?
- Where is radiofrequency performed?
- Am I a candidate for radiofrequency ablation?
- How do I prepare for the procedure?
- What is the radiofrequency ablation procedure?
- What should I expect after the radiofrequency ablation procedure?
- Does insurance cover radiofrequency ablation?
- Learn more. Get a complimentary assessment of your varicose veins.
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red or flesh colored. They are often raised above the skin on legs and look like twisted bulging cords. Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins that carry blood from the legs toward the heart no longer function, causing blood to pool in the legs.
Varicose veins, which are enlarged veins in the leg that appear like twisted, bulging cords, can progress to CVI if left untreated. Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a progressive medical condition that worsens over time. CVI affects the veins and vessels in the leg that carry oxygen-poor blood back toward the heart.
Signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency include:
- Leg pain, aching, or cramping
- Burning or itching of the skin
- Leg or ankle swelling
- Heavy feeling in legs
- Skin discoloration or texture changes
- Open wounds or sores (ulceration)
- Restless legs
- Varicose veins
There are several factors that increase the likelihood of having this condition:
- Standing occupation
- Prior injury or surgery
- Sedentary lifestyle
Radiofrequency ablation is a low-risk, FDA-approved treatment. The procedure, which requires only a local anesthetic, is quick and generally pain- free. It involves minimal, if any, scarring. With RFA, there is a low potential for side effects and complications.
RF ablation is an outpatient procedure. Both your consultation and the procedure will be performed in the RIA Endovascular office.
To find out if RFA — or another procedure such as sclerotherapy, foam sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy or laser ablation — is right to treat your varicose veins, we will do an initial consultation. We will do:
- History and physicial exam
- Detailed assessment of your legs
- Pictures of varicosities for our chart and insurance company
- Explanation of potential procedures
If an ultrasound of the legs is required, it is charged as a diagnostic procedure. The Non-Invasive Vascular Assessment (NIVA) takes 45 minutes per leg . It may be covered by insurance if it is not for a cosmetic-only procedure.
Next you will have a physician consultation, in which you will meet with your interventional and endovascular radiologist to review and explain the results of the ultrasound, plan for treatment, and get a prescription for compression stockings.
We will also obtain precertification for your upcoming procedures from your insurance company.
- Please allow one-and-a- half (1 1/2) to two (2) hours for each procedure.
- Please bring the compression stockings with you. This is very important.
- Plan on signing consent forms.
- You will have the option of taking Valium for your procedure, which we will provide at the time of your treatment. If you plan on taking the Valium, you must have someone drive you home.
- After the consent forms are signed, we will give you the Valium.
- We will then prep and drape the leg. The room will be darkened during most of the procedure. You will need to put on protective eye wear if a laser is in use.
- You may experience a burnt tast or smell for a brief time during the procedure.
- At the end of the procedure, we will assist you in putting on the stocking.
- You will be given home-care instructions and a prescription if necessary.
- An office visit will be scheduled 7 to 10 days after your procedure
The procedure involves inserting a thin RF catheter into the diseased vein through a very small incision. Under local anesthesia, the device is threaded through the vessel up to the groin area. Radiofrequency energy is applied to the heating element in 20-second intervals to sequentially heat, collapse and seal shut in segments. After each segment is treated, the catheter is manually withdrawn down the vein. The process is repeated until the entire length of the vein has been ablated.
The body automatically re-routes blood flow through healthier veins. The ablated vein becomes scar tissue and is eventually absorbed by the body. The restoration of normal circulation relieves the distention of the surface veins. Healthy veins take over; normal blood flow returns to the leg which helps relieve the swelling, pain and discoloration.
After the radiofrequency procedure, you will need to wear compression hose for two weeks to aid healing. You may resume normal activities the day after your procedure. Walking at least twice a day for 20 minutes is encouraged. but days but must refrain from strenuous activities, prolonged standing and heavy lifting for a few weeks.
RFA is usually covered by insurance. Please check with your insurance carrier about your specific coverage. If you decide to pursue treatment, our in-house precertification specialist will work with you and your insurance company to obtain preauthorization.
Call 720.493.3406 to schedule your appointment.