Endovenous thermal ablation is a minimally invasive technique used to obliterate the major problematic vessels causing the varicose veins. The veins can be thermally ablated using either radiofrequency or laser energy with both techniques having similar results. The procedure is done in an office setting with local anaesthetic with the whole process taking 45-60 minutes from start to finish. Both techniques (RFA and Laser) use a catheter/fibre that is inserted into the vein under ultrasound guidance and advanced to top of the problematic vein. Once this is in place, local anaesthetic is delivered around the vein to make the area numb. The local anaesthetic not only helps with preventing pain, it also allows the vein to shrink down onto the catheter and protects the skin surface from being affected by the heat. The catheter then deliver thermal energy to heat the vein and damage the vein wall which causes it to collapse, shrink and finally disappear over a few weeks to months. This is our preferred method of treatment of large veins and avoids surgery, incisions and prolonged time off work, with patients often returning to a day or so after the procedure.
Click on the video link to watch an animation of what a Radiofrequency Ablation procedure involves.