About Radiofrequency Ablation RFA
Radio Frequency Ablation is one of several treatments for varicose veins.
At RIA Endovascular Clinic, we can help you decide the best treatment for your legs. And, contrary to popular belief, laser is not always the answer.
RIA Endovascular Clinic offers a comprehensive array of vein treatments, including: laser ablation-endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), cosmetic sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy, foam sclerotherapy, and radio frequency ablation customized to your needs.
What is Radio Frequency Ablation, often called RFA?
Radio Frequency Ablation is a safe and simple outpatient treatment for varicose veins using an ablation catheter. The troublesome vein is actually “ablated” or closed down so that healthier veins can take over the function of the faulty veins. The procedure is minimally invasive, meaning that it is not a surgical procedure. It is performed by an RIA Endovascular interventional radiologist, a vascular specialist who treats veins throughout the body. The ablation treats the underlying abnormal vein causing the varicosity, but without the more invasive vein stripping surgery of the past.
How is Radio Frequency Ablation performed?
RFA is performed with mild sedation and local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. The entire procedure takes only about 45 minutes to an hour, while the actual treatment time with the ablation catheter is significantly less. One leg is treated at a time. We will give you shorts to put on or you can bring your own. After completing the consent form, you will have the option of medication to relax you. You will lie on a special procedure table in a sterile environment. After numbing the leg, the interventional radiologist will advance an image-guided sheath, called a catheter, into the vein from either your calf or your thigh, depending on which vein is being treated. The catheter contains the ablation fiber. The ablation catheter tip extends just beyond the sheath. Numbing fluid is then placed around the vein. As the ablation catheter is activated and slowly pulled back through the vein, heat from the catheter tip is applied to the vein wall in increments. This action causes the vein to permanently close (ablate) and disappear. The body then reroutes the blood to healthier veins. No other tissue in the leg is affected. We treat as many veins as are needed.
Am I a candidate for Radio Frequency Ablation?
The way to find out if this treatment is right for you is by clinical evaluation, which includes:
- History and physical exam
- Detailed assessment of your legs
- Pictures of varicosities for chart and insurance company
- Explanation of potential procedures
- Non-Invasive Vascular Assessment (NIVA) — ultrasound of the legs, 45 minutes per leg
Once this is complete, you will meet with a medical professional, usually a nurse practitioner, who will explain the results of your exam, including a review of ultrasound findings and a recommended plan for treatment. If you agree, you will be given a prescription for compression stockings.
Is Radio Frequency Ablation covered by insurance?
We accept most insurance plans. Insurance generally covers medically necessary procedures. Cosmetic procedures are usually not covered by insurance. Radio Frequency Ablation is a medically necessary procedure and is therefore generally covered by insurance. Most insurance companies require that you wear compression hose for a specified period of time before they agree to pay for the procedure. Our in-office preauthorization specialist will obtain precertification from your insurance company for your upcoming procedure.
How do I prepare for the Radio Frequency Ablation?
And what should I expect during the procedure?
Please follow these instructions:
- It is advisable to drink plenty of water before the procedure.
- Allow 90 minutes to 2 hours for the procedure.
- Bring your compression stockings with you, as you will need to wear them after the procedure. This is important to remember!
- 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 after paperwork is completed.
- If you plan on taking the Valium, please arrange ahead of time to have someone drive you home. We cannot release you without a driver (not a taxi or public transportation).
- We will then prep and drape the leg. The room will be darkened during most of the procedure.
- You may experience a burned taste or smell for a brief time during the procedure. This is normal.
- At the end of the procedure, we will assist you in putting on the compression stocking.
- You will be given home-care instructions and a prescription if necessary.
- We will call you shortly after your appointment to see how you are doing and to schedule a follow-up office visit 7 to 10 days after your procedure.
- Call us if you have questions at 720.493.3406
What can I expect after Radio Frequency Ablation?
There is little to no discomfort during the procedure. Recovery is relatively quick. A special compression stocking should be worn for about a week to facilitate healing. The majority of patients return to work the next day and to a full range of activities in a week to 10 days. After having Radio Frequency Ablation, you may still have varicose veins but they will be smaller. Ablation does not treat the surface tiny spider veins. However, sclerotherapy (injections of a mild medicine that ablates these superficial veins) can be used in conjunction with RFA.
Is Radio Frequency Ablation successful?
Patients report high satisfaction with RFA. According to a study in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, a 93% success rate has been reported after two years. These results are superior to surgical methods for treating varicose veins, with lower rates of complication and the avoidance of general anesthesia.
Why use RIA Endovascular Clinic?
RIA Endovascular Clinic offers the most comprehensive treatment for varicose and spider veins. Our board-certified physicians use state-of-the-art technology in a beautiful, relaxing and professional environment. We provide complete vein care treatment — both medical and cosmetic — using the newest proven techniques. Our goal is healthy, beautiful legs!
- Extensive experience — more than 10,000 image-guided endovascular procedures performed
- Dedication to the treatment of vein diseases
- In-office diagnosis and treatment, with no need for a hospital visit
- Ultrasound evaluation with immediate report
- Minimally invasive procedures with quick recovery time – no stitches!