Can Radiofrequency Ablation for Vein Treatment be Repeated?

If you have had radiofrequency ablation but your varicose vein has returned, you may wonder if you can undergo this vein treatment again.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive vein treatment. The procedure uses radio waves that create heat to kill, or “ablate,” tissue safely and effectively. The RFA procedure typically takes less than an hour, can be done in an outpatient clinic, and most people do not find radiofrequency ablation to be uncomfortable.

To perform RFA, a vein doctor inserts a small, flexible catheter into the diseased vein then delivers consistent and uniform heat to the walls of the treated vein. The heat contracts the collagen in the walls of the vein, which causes the vein to collapse and close. The treated vein breaks apart and nearby tissue absorbs the remnants of the vein.

Patients can get up and walk around immediately after the procedure. In fact, walking helps speed healing. Patients should avoid strenuous activity for a couple of weeks – since each patient is different, the attending vein doctor recommend a different recovery plan for every patient.

Why Someone Might Need a Repeated Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure

Varicose veins may appear to return after professional vein care for two reasons. First, vein treatment with RFA and other approaches causes the diseased vein to close, and your body routes blood through nearby veins; these nearby veins can also turn into varicose veins and require treatment. Secondly, radiofrequency ablation successfully reduces the appearance in about 90-95 percent of patients, so about 5-10 percent of patients who undergo RFA need a second procedure.

Women who get varicose veins during pregnancy may need repeat treatments after each pregnancy. Gaining weight, sitting or standing for long periods, or having a genetic predisposition can increase a person’s risk for developing varicose veins several times. In these cases, patients need another treatment. Fortunately, Dr. Stevens can repeat radiofrequency ablation if the varicose vein appears to return.

For more information about radiofrequency ablation and repeating RFA, make an appointment with Premier Heart and Vein Care by calling 1-805-979-4777.

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