Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 22, 2022

What is Radiofrequency Ablation and How Does It Work to Treat Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are a disorder that affects many people around the world. The good news is that currently, there are minimally invasive and painful treatments that require little time for the patient to see an improvement in their condition. This post will discuss radiofrequency ablation, a revolutionary procedure that uses heat to treat varicose veins.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are visible to the naked eye because they protrude from the skin. These veins have a twisted and bulging appearance and are commonly reddish or bluish. For most people, varicose veins occur on the legs and are not life-threatening; they are only considered cosmetic problems.

Causes of varicose veins

Problems generally develop when veins are unable to transport blood. Veins, particularly those in the legs, have valves that prevent blood from backing up and promote blood flow in one direction. When the valves fail to function properly, blood accumulates in the veins, creating structural deformations. Vein walls can also deteriorate and result in varicose veins. With increasing age, this problem becomes more prevalent.


Symptoms will vary depending on the person's degree and might range from minor to severe. Because physical activity stimulates blood circulation and inactivity causes blood to concentrate in the legs, symptoms may worsen after extended standing or sitting.

Minor symptoms

- Swelling

- Tingling

- Night cramps

- Changes in skin texture and coloring

- Skin irritation

- Heaviness in the leg

- Shooting pains

Severe symptoms

- Ulcers

- Continuous bleeding

- Painful swelling of the veins (phlebitis).    

Treatments for varicose veins

There are several treatments available for varicose veins. A vein specialist will prescribe the best therapy for you based on the severity of your disease. Treatments range from wearing compression stockings to surgery. However, few people will need surgery since alternative minimally invasive therapies, such as radiofrequency ablation, can quickly improve your condition.

Radiofrequency ablation

This technology employs laser energy or radiofrequency to heat and closes damaged veins. When the varicose veins are cauterized, blood begins to flow into healthy veins, restoring normal blood flow. The physician is guided by imaging (ultrasound) to visualize the affected veins.

Equipment used in radiofrequency

Radiofrequency ablation uses ultrasound, a catheter, a radiofrequency electrode (or laser fiber), and a console. The ultrasound generates images that can be viewed on a monitor and help the physician pinpoint the damaged veins. The catheter is a long, thin plastic tube into which the electrode is inserted, and the electrode generates the energy required to shrink the varicose veins.


Ultrasound-generated pictures direct the doctor during the therapy. A topical analgesic is first administered to alleviate the discomfort produced by catheter placement. The doctor makes a tiny incision in the leg and inserts a catheter into the damaged vein. Then, the radiofrequency electrode is passed through the catheter and into the vein. Anesthesia is applied to the vein to be treated, and the electrode generates energy. This energy causes the vein to close and stop functioning. Finally, the physician applies pressure to the area to prevent bleeding and covers the skin with a dressing.

After the treatment

You will need to wear compression stockings to reduce bruising and skin discomfort. These side effects are usual and will disappear in a short time. You should remain active and avoid spending too much time standing or sitting.


- Painless and minimally invasive treatment only requires an incision in the leg.

- Less pain during recovery.

- It does not require sutures and does not leave scars since the incision is small.

- Prompt relief of symptoms.

- Most of the treated veins become invisible.

- It is performed in a clinic, and patients often do not require hospitalization.

- People can return to normal activities the next day.

- It is more effective and has fewer complications compared to other treatments.

- It is a quick treatment that can be completed in about an hour.

Radiofrequency ablation has revolutionized treatments for varicose veins. It is currently a benchmark and one of the most common options for treating venous insufficiency and varicose veins. This treatment represents a minimally invasive way to eliminate varicose veins and has multiple advantages compared to other treatments

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