Endovenous ablation (also called Endovenous Thermal Ablation) is a frequently used method for treating varicose veins, which affect approximately a quarter of the adult U.S. population. Varicose veins are superficial blood vessels that bulge and rise above the skin’s surface. These abnormally lengthened, twisted, or dilated veins can be uncomfortable and result in swelling of the legs.
What Is Endovenous Ablation?
Endovenous ablation is an image-guided, minimally invasive procedure using laser energy, radiofrequency, or steam to cauterize (burn) and close varicose veins. The procedure does not remove the problem veins. Instead, it damages the vein causing it to collapse, shrink, and eventually dissolve and disappear. Blood flow continues through other nearby veins.
Endovenous ablation is a safe, effective method of treating varicose veins. It is less invasive than conventional surgery and leaves virtually no scars. Although endovenous ablation is used for cosmetic purposes, it is more commonly used to help alleviate chronic pain and other symptoms related to varicose veins in the legs. The symptoms can include:
- Aching pain.
- Swelling (edema) and inflammation.
- Skin irritation or sores (venous ulcers).
- Skin discoloration (stasis dermatitis).
- Inflammation in the vein (phlebitis).
The procedure has radically changed the treatment of varicose veins. There is minimal bleeding and bruising, resulting in less pain than surgical ligation and stripping while providing similar cosmetic results. In addition, most patients can resume normal activities sooner than with other procedures.
How Does Endovenous Ablation Work?
Endovenous ablation is an image-guided, minimally invasive procedure performed on an outpatient basis.
Using ultrasound equipment for guidance, the doctor inserts a catheter through the skin and positions it within the abnormal vein. Laser or radiofrequency energy is then applied as the catheter is slowly withdrawn from the vein. The procedure is usually completed in about an hour, and no sutures are needed.
Following the procedure, the patient will need to wear a compression stocking to help reduce bruising and tenderness, while also minimizing the possibility of blood clots forming.
The patient may resume normal activities immediately, with the exception of air travel or prolonged sitting (such as a long car trip). Doctors want patients to remain active. Spending too much time in bed during the recovery period increases the chances of complications.
What Are the Benefits of Endovenous Ablation?
A standard treatment for varicose veins and venous insufficiency has been ligation plus stripping. Since 2000, this has changed with the introduction of endovenous thermal ablation techniques. The effectiveness of current endovenous thermal ablation treatments is greater than 90%, with only mild side-effects and rare serious complications.
Additional benefits of endovenous ablation include:
- It is a less invasive alternative to conventional surgery.
- There are virtually no scars left because of the small incisions.
- Thermal ablation is more effective than traditional vein stripping techniques, has fewer complications, and there is less pain during recovery.
- The procedure is generally complication-free and safe.
- Most patients can return to normal daily activities immediately, with little or no pain.
- Patients can walk and resume normal daily activities after the procedure.
- Any minor soreness and bruising following the procedure can be treated with over the counter pain medications.
Some of the reasons for patients to consider treating varicose veins with endovenous ablation include:
- Less chance of stasis ulcers developing.
- Significant relief from discomforts such as aches, heaviness, and pain.
- More efficient blood circulation.
- An improved body image and confidence in one’s appearance.
Varicose veins are the result of a progressive disease. While it is possible to treat problematic veins, it is impossible to predict if others will appear later. Every patient is different; individual genetics and lifestyle will dictate whether other varicose veins will develop over time.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies, including endovenous ablation. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.
Endovenous Ablation Resources
Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins (Radiology Info)
Venous Disease Endovenous Thermal Ablation (Cleveland Clinic)
Endovenous Laser Ablation for Varicose Veins (Vein Directory)
Endovenous thermal ablation for varicose veins: strengths and weaknesses (Phlebolymphology)
What is ablation? (WebMD)
Endovenous Thermal Ablation (Mayo Clinic)
Endovenous Laser Varicose Vein Surgery (University of Chicago Medicine)
FAQs about Endovenous Ablation Treatment for Varicose Veins (Stony Brook University Hospital)
Endovenous Therapies of Lower Extremity Varicosities: A Meta-Analysis (PubMed)
Closure of the Greater Saphenous Vein with Endoluminal Radiofrequency Thermal Heating of the Vein Wall in Combination with Ambulatory Phlebectomy: Preliminary 6-Month Follow-Up (PubMed)
Proof-of-Principle Study of Steam Ablation as Novel Thermal Therapy for Saphenous Varicose Veins (PubMed)