If you have varicose veins, you’re not alone. Over 30% of people, at some point in their lives, are affected by varicose veins. While they can be relatively benign most of the time, they can sometimes evolve into significant complications. It’s not surprising, as varicose veins signal a lack of circulation in the affected area. However, modern treatments for varicose veins are available, and venous ablation is among the safest and most effective. In this post, we’re going to explore what to expect after vein ablation.
We’ll begin by diving into some of the causes of varicose veins and what would necessitate vein ablation. Next, we’ll explain the vein ablation procedure, including what to expect before, during, and after.
Varicose Veins: The What and Why
Varicose veins are superficial veins that have become swollen and deformed. The walls of the veins collapse and cannot sustain the pressure of blood that flows through them. The valves in these veins may also malfunction, even allowing blood to flow backward and cause pooling. Therefore, blood pools in these weakened, damaged veins, enlarging them and making them bulge prominently underneath the skin. Sometimes, they can take on a darkened bluish, green, or purple appearance and cause psychological effects.
You may be familiar with the idea that varicose veins on the scrotum are named varicoceles, and rectal varicoses are named hemorrhoids. They can develop anywhere in the body but are common on the lower legs.
While the exact cause is not clear, the risk factors for varicose veins include obesity, pregnancy, constipation, chronic blood pressure, and the presence of a tumor. A sedentary lifestyle or a predisposition to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is also a factor. Varicoses also occur more commonly in older women than in any other demographic.
Vein Ablation: How It Works
Vein ablation, also known as endovenous radiofrequency (RF) ablation (EVA,) is a procedure that eliminates varicose veins in the legs. Since there is no surgical incision necessary, there are no stitches or involved recovery period required, and the procedure is generally free of complications and very safe. It is performed by a specialist known as an interventional phlebologist, radiologist, or vascular surgeon.
The doctor uses an ultrasound machine, an RF electrode, and a catheter. First, they will apply an ultrasound gel and examine the area with the ultrasound scanner to establish the exact location of the vein.
Next, they will sterilize, clean, and prepare the area with an anesthetic cream to reduce sensation. They then make a tiny nick on the skin and position the catheter and electrode within the vein. The radiologist uses ultrasound to guide their path. Once the catheter is in position, the electrode is energized, and the vein is heated using RF energy, which closes off the vein and eliminates the bulging appearance. Finally, the doctor bandages and covers the area, and the procedure is complete. This entire process only takes about an hour or so.
What To Expect After Vein Ablation
You can expect minimal, minor bruising, swelling, and pain after the procedure. You may also experience some numbness in the area where the vein existed, which will resolve on its own. However, there is virtually zero scarring.
The doctor will require you to wear compression stockings over the affected legs for some time, and you must wear them as instructed. You will also need to walk regularly, for about 45-60 minutes a day so that your legs maintain a healthy blood flow. Your doctor will instruct you to stay mobile, not sit for prolonged periods, and avoid long-haul flights where you’re forced to remain immobile.
Any complications, while rare, can cause reddening skin, tenderness, and pain or swelling that does not resolve or gets worse. In this case, you’ll need to revisit your doctor to evaluate what’s going on.
The thought of a vein ablation might give you concern, but hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of what to expect during and after your procedure. And you can put your mind at ease because the expert cardiovascular specialists at Northwest Cardiovascular Clinic can answer any further questions you may have. So do give us a call today at (281) 807-5253, and we’ll be glad to help you.
At Northwest Cardiovascular Clinic, our one of the best cardiologists in Houston, Texas, is here to help you with your cardiac care.