Is radiofrequency ablation considered surgery?

Millions of people suffer from varicose veins, along with symptoms like pain, swelling, and heaviness in the legs and feet. Without proper medical care, those ugly, twisted veins can cause skin changes and stubborn sores, increasing your risk for infection and other serious medical problems. In addition to being physically unattractive, varicose veins can also be a sign of a more serious underlying vein condition, and no matter what, these diseased veins prevent areas of your body from receiving the normal blood flow they need to stay supplied with important nutrients as well as oxygen.

Fortunately, today there are a variety of vein treatment options that can help eliminate varicose veins and restore normal, healthy circulation. One of the most popular options is radiofrequency ablation (or RFA), a state-of-the-art outpatient procedure that offers patients fast results with little to no downtime.

Radiofrequency Ablation: The Procedure

Strictly speaking, you might classify RFA as surgery, but more frequently, it’s referred to as a medical procedure. That’s because unlike many types of surgery that require general anesthesia and large incisions, RFA uses tiny openings in your vein, and it’s most commonly performed under local anesthesia used to numb the area being treated.

Prior to the RFA procedure, your veins are carefully evaluated and “mapped” so Dr. Stevens can plan the best “approach” for removing the damaged vein. Just prior to the procedure, the insertion site is determined, and the area is carefully cleaned, then numbed. Once the area is completely anesthetized, one small incision is made into the skin, and a very thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the vein through an introducer sheath. The catheter serves as a conduit for the RFA energy delivery.

Once the catheter is inserted into the vein, it’s “triggered” to emit tiny, controlled bursts of radiofrequency energy, which in turn heats up the vein lining, damaging it and causing it to collapse or close, preventing the flow of blood through the vein. Once the entire length of the damaged vein is treated, the catheter and introducer sheath are removed, and the incision is closed with a steristrip. No sutures or stitches are needed.

After the procedure, you’ll be observed for a brief period before being discharged. A compression bandage or stocking will be placed over the treatment site to aid in healing, and over time, the sealed-off vein will be absorbed by your body and carried away by your body’s “waste disposal” system. Normal blood flow will be redirected to neighboring healthy veins. During a follow-up visit, your vein will be evaluated to ensure it’s completely sealed.

Learn more about RFA in San Luis Obispo.

Premier Heart & Vein Care is a leading provider of vein care for men and women in and around San Luis Obispo, California. Dr. Ken Stevens and the entire staff provide customized, safe, effective vein treatment to relieve varicose vein symptoms and help patients enjoy optimal health at every age. To learn more about RFA and other vein treatment options or to schedule a vein evaluation, call Premier Heart & Vein Care at 805-979-4777 today.

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