Surgical Associates surgeons use the radio frequency ablation (RFA) procedure as their operation of choice for varicose veins. This procedure was chosen because it is performed through small surgical incisions, resulting in less pain and quicker recovery, while maintaining a level of results on par with more invasive procedures.
In RFA surgery, a small incision is made in the vein to be treated, and a small probe is inserted through a catheter. Then radio frequencies are emitted from the probe, and this energy heats up the vein. The probe is then drawn out of the vein, and the vein collapses behind the withdrawn probe. With the vein sealed shut, blood then naturally re-routes to healthy veins. After a year or two, the vein disappears. The results are comparable to vein surgery, but there is less risk and pain.
Unlike painful vein stripping surgery or laser ablation, the catheter delivers uniform, consistent heat to each treated segment, and temperatures do not exceed 248 degrees F. As a result, RFA causes less bruising and allows for rapid patient relief and recovery. The procedure is commonly performed in an office or an outpatient setting and is covered by most health insurance in the United States.
RFA has the following advantages over other existing treatments:
- Minimally Invasive: RFA eliminates the need for groin surgery and general anesthesia. The procedure also results in little to no scarring and is generally performed using local anesthesia in Surgical Associates’ office.
- Less Pain, Less Bruising, Faster Recovery: A 2009 study compared the experience of patients treated with RFA and those who received laser treatment. The study demonstrated:
- Less pain, bruising and complications
- Up to four times faster improvement in patients’ quality of life versus laser (based on a quality of life questionnaire)
Other studies have shown that patients receiving RFA treatment return to normal activity faster than those undergoing vein stripping.
Excellent Clinical Outcomes: RFA treatment has been shown in a prospective, international multi-center study to be 93% effective at three years using Kaplan Meier analysis.
The procedure is performed as a medical necessity as diagnosed by a trained vein specialist. It is not designed to address spider veins or cosmetic issues. However, the successful treatment can produce cosmetic improvements. As with any medical procedure, you should consult your vein specialist and review all safety information associated with any procedure.
Risks and Complications in RFA Surgery
As with any surgery, there are risks and complications associated with RFA surgery.
Complications vary from patient to patient. Talk with your surgeon about the percentage of patients who experience complications. Complications include but are not limited to:
• Pain in the incision area
• Bruising in the treatment area
• Skin discoloration in the treatment area