Why It’s Done
What Is Vein Ablation?
Vein disease occurs when bad veins in our legs no longer do their job and allow blood to pool in our legs. This can lead to many symptoms and enlarged varicose veins.
Venous ablation is an in-office procedure that utilizes radiofrequency energy to cauterize and close bad veins in the legs to alleviate symptoms such as swelling, achiness, fatigue, heaviness of the legs.
Our doctors have extensive experience performing this procedure, making us some of the most knowledgeable vein specialists in Houston.
When Is Vein Ablation Needed?
Generally used to help alleviate symptoms such as:
- Skin irritation
- Restless legs
- Open sores or ulcers
The leg being treated will be cleaned, sterilized, and covered with a surgical drape. Your physician will numb the area where the catheter will enter into the abnormal vein and use the ultrasound transducer or wand to study the vein and track its path. A very small skin incision is made at the site.
Using ultrasound guidance, a catheter or vascular access sheath is inserted through the skin and positioned within the abnormal vein. This catheter will then close the bad vein and then the catheter itself is removed from the body. No foreign objects are left inside the body.
A small bandage is used to cover the small skin opening and the leg is wrapped with a compression wrap. No stitches are needed.
Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as endovenous ablation are performed by a specially trained vascular physician.
Patients are given a mild sedative by mouth (Valium) to help them to relax. Local numbing medicine is also used.
This procedure is usually completed within an hour.
What Are the Possible Risks of the Procedure?
Endovenous ablation is safe, less invasive than conventional surgery, and leaves virtually no scars. It is one of the safest choices for vein treatment in Houston.
However, you may experience some side effects. These include:
- Bruising and tenderness, which can be alleviated by wearing compression stockings
- Burning, pain, or prickling after recovery
- Hyperpigmentation – darkening of the skin
- Phlebitis – inflammation of the vein
- A sudden onset of a swollen leg
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in deep vein system) – rare 1%
- Formation of small ulcers at the injection site
Before the Procedure
You should report all medications you are taking, including herbal supplements, and if you have any allergies, especially to local anesthetic medications and general anesthesia.
Do not discontinue any of your medications without first talking to your healthcare provider. Ask your doctor which medications you should stop taking and when to stop taking them.
What to Bring
- A family member to wait with you before the procedure
- Comfortable, easy-to-fold clothing
- Do not bring any jewelry, watches, and/or valuables
How to Prepare
Do not put lotion on your legs before the procedure.
After the Procedure
What to Expect After the Procedure
Following the procedure, you will need to wear a gradient compression stocking to help reduce bruising, tenderness, and minimize the possibility of blood clots forming for up to 2 weeks or as advised by your physician.
Pain after ablation is typically less than after vein surgery.
You may resume your normal activity immediately, with the exception of air travel or prolonged sitting. Refrain from heavy lifting or other strenuous activities for a few days.
To avoid increasing the chance of complications, remain active and do not spend too much time in bed during the recovery process.
In addition, you should avoid the following for 1 week after treatment:
- Hot baths
- Hot compresses
- Whirlpools or saunas
- Direct exposure to sunlight
- Showers are permitted, but the water should be cooler than usual
- Any vigorous aerobic activity or heavy lifting
A follow-up ultrasound examination is essential in order to assess the treated vein and to check for adverse outcomes. Within one week, the target vein should be successfully closed; however, full response to treatment may take up to 6-8 weeks.
Additional procedures may be necessary to treat associated veins.