Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) for varicose veins

Waterfront Hospital Edinburgh, Scotland

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) for varicose veins is a minimally invasive procedure designed to effectively treat them. This procedure uses radiofrequency energy to heat and close the affected veins, redirecting blood flow to healthier veins. It is a popular choice for its effectiveness, minimal downtime, and the aesthetic and health benefits it offers.

varicose vein radiofrequency ablation


Radiofrequency ablation for varicose veins

    Local or General
    60 MINUTES
    Day surgery procedure
    up to 7 days off work

What the Procedure Involves

The radiofrequency ablation procedure begins with applying a local anaesthetic to ensure patient comfort. A small incision is made, through which a thin catheter is inserted into the affected vein. Using ultrasound guidance, the catheter delivers radiofrequency energy to the vein walls, causing them to collapse and seal shut. Blood flow is naturally redirected to healthier veins, and the body gradually absorbs the treated vein. The entire process typically takes less than an hour, and patients can often return home the same day.

Benefits and Expected Outcomes

Medical Relief

  • Pain Reduction: Closes off problematic veins, reducing pain.
  • Decreased Swelling: Alleviates swelling in the legs.
  • Less Heaviness and Fatigue: Eases the feeling of heavy and tired legs.

Aesthetic Improvement

  • Smooth Skin: Reduces visible bulging and discoloration.
  • Boosted Confidence: Improves self-esteem and willingness to show your legs.

Can be performed under Local or General Anaesthesia

  • Outpatient/ Day Procedure: Usually done on an outpatient/ day basis, allowing you to go home the same day.
  • Minimal Downtime: Shorter recovery time compared to traditional surgery.

High Success Rate and Long-Lasting Results

  • Effective Closure: Successfully closes off varicose veins.
  • Durable Outcomes: Long-lasting improvement in symptoms and leg health.

Improved Leg Health

  • Better Circulation: Improves blood flow in the legs.
  • Prevents Complications: Helps avoid issues like venous ulcers and chronic venous insufficiency.

Minimal Scarring

  • Cosmetic Advantage: Scars are barely noticeable.
  • Lower Infection Risk: Small incisions heal faster with less risk of infection.

Improved Quality of Life

  • Increased Mobility: Reduced pain and swelling make it easier to move around.
  • Better Sleep: Improved comfort leads to better sleep quality.

Choosing radiofrequency ablation at Waterfront Private Hospital means opting for effective, minimally invasive treatment that improves your leg health and appearance.

Who is an ideal candidate

Ideal candidates for radiofrequency ablation include individuals who:

  • Suffer from symptomatic varicose veins causing discomfort or pain.
  • Are in good overall health and have realistic expectations about the procedure’s outcomes.
  • Have not responded well to conservative treatments such as compression stockings or lifestyle changes.

A thorough consultation with our specialists will determine if RFA is the most suitable treatment option based on individual health conditions and vein characteristics.

Risks and considerations

While radiofrequency ablation is generally safe, potential risks and side effects may include:

  • Mild bruising or swelling at the treatment site.
  • Temporary numbness or tingling.
  • Rarely, blood clots or infection.

At Waterfront Private Hospital, we prioritise patient safety using experienced vascular surgeons and state-of-the-art equipment. Our comprehensive pre-procedure evaluations and meticulous post-procedure care protocols are designed to minimise risks and ensure optimal outcomes.

Aftercare and recovery

Post-procedure care for radiofrequency ablation includes:

  • Wearing compression stockings for a specified period to support healing.
  • Engaging in light walking to promote circulation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities for a few days.

Patients are scheduled for follow-up appointments to monitor their progress and address any concerns. Our dedicated healthcare team is available to provide support and guidance throughout the recovery process, ensuring a smooth and successful healing journey.


FAQ: Varicose Vein Treatment with Radiofrequency Ablation

What is Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) for Varicose Veins?

RFA for varicose veins is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to heat and close varicose veins. This treatment redirects blood flow to healthier veins, reducing symptoms and improving leg appearance.

How does Radiofrequency Ablation work?

Radiofrequency ablation involves inserting a thin catheter into the affected vein. The catheter emits radiofrequency energy, which heats the vein walls, causing them to collapse and seal shut. Over time, the closed vein is reabsorbed by the body.

What are the benefits of Radiofrequency Ablation for varicose veins?

  • Pain Relief: Reduces discomfort and pain in the legs.
  • Aesthetic Improvement: Minimises the appearance of bulging veins.
  • Quick Recovery: Minimal downtime compared to traditional surgery.
  • Long-lasting Results: Provides durable relief from varicose vein symptoms.

Who is an ideal candidate for Radiofrequency Ablation?

Ideal candidates are individuals experiencing symptoms from varicose veins, such as pain, swelling, and heaviness. Those in good health who have not found relief from conservative treatments like compression stockings are also suitable candidates.

Is Radiofrequency Ablation safe?

Yes, RFA is a safe and effective procedure with a low risk of complications. It is performed under local anaesthesia and uses minimally invasive techniques.

What should I expect during the RFA procedure?

The procedure can be performed under local sedation or general anaesthesia. Your surgeon can recommend the best method for you. If the procedure is carried out under local anaesthesia, multiple injections are given along the leg to numb it.

How long is the recovery time after Radiofrequency Ablation?

Most patients experience minimal downtime. You can return to normal activities within a few days, though you should avoid strenuous activities for about a week.

Are there any side effects of Radiofrequency Ablation?

Common side effects include mild bruising, swelling, and temporary numbness. Serious complications are rare but can include infection or blood clots.

How soon will I see results after Radiofrequency Ablation?

You may notice an improvement in symptoms immediately after the procedure. However, the full cosmetic results become apparent over several weeks as the treated vein is reabsorbed by the body.

What should I do to prepare for Radiofrequency Ablation?

Preparation involves wearing loose clothing and arranging for someone to drive you home after the procedure. Follow your doctor’s specific instructions regarding any medications or pre-procedure guidelines.

Can Radiofrequency Ablation treat spider veins?

RFA is primarily used for larger varicose veins. Other treatments, such as sclerotherapy or laser therapy, are typically recommended for spider veins.

What is the cost of Radiofrequency Ablation for varicose veins?

The cost can vary depending on the extent of treatment required and your insurance coverage. For an accurate estimate, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider and insurance company.

Will my varicose veins come back after Radiofrequency Ablation?

RFA effectively treats existing varicose veins but does not prevent new ones from forming. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and following your doctor’s advice can help minimise the risk of developing new varicose veins.

Does insurance cover Radiofrequency Ablation?

Many insurance plans cover RFA for varicose veins, especially if deemed medically necessary. Check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage.

How do I choose the right doctor for Radiofrequency Ablation?

Choose a vascular specialist with experience in varicose vein treatments. Look for board certification, patient reviews, and a track record of successful procedures.

What is the difference between Radiofrequency Ablation and Laser Ablation?

Both RFA and laser ablation are effective treatments for varicose veins. RFA uses radiofrequency energy, while laser ablation uses laser energy to close the vein. Your doctor can help determine which method is best for you.

What follow-up care is required after Radiofrequency Ablation?

Follow-up care includes wearing compression stockings, attending follow-up appointments, and monitoring for complications. Your doctor will provide specific post-procedure instructions.

How does Radiofrequency Ablation compare to traditional vein stripping?

RFA is less invasive, has a shorter recovery time, and is associated with less pain and fewer complications compared to traditional vein-stripping surgery.

Will I need multiple treatments for my varicose veins?

The number of treatments depends on the extent of your varicose veins. Some patients achieve the desired results with one treatment, while others may require additional sessions.

By addressing these commonly asked questions, we aim to provide comprehensive information about radiofrequency ablation for varicose veins, helping you make an informed decision about your treatment options at Waterfront Private Hospital.

Our varicose vein specialists

Beautiful, Immaculate & Friendly

The Waterfront is a beautiful and immaculate hospital. To me, it felt as if I were in a luxury spa. The staff are both utterly friendly and professional. The entire process was personal and seamless. Thank you.

Sandra Burns
April 2024

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