What does the operation involve?
A quick and effective minimally-invasive treatment which uses radio-frequency energy to obliterate the varicose vein in a few seconds.
Before your operation, the healthcare team will carry out several checks to ensure you are receiving the treatment which is best for you. Treatment for varicose veins is usually performed under local anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about 45 minutes.
What is radio-frequency ablation?
Your surgeon will insert a radio-frequency ablation catheter into the great or small saphenous vein. They will use an ultrasound scan to guide them as they move the catheter to the point where the saphenous and deep veins meet. They will inject a special liquid to squash the walls of the vein onto the catheter.
The catheter has an electrode that heats the walls of the vein using radio-frequency energy. Your surgeon will slowly remove the catheter while radio-frequency energy is sent down the electrode. The radio-frequency energy causes the saphenous vein to close.
Your surgeon may need to treat other varicose veins through small cuts or using injection sclerotherapy.
After your surgery, your surgeon will remove the catheter and cover any tiny cuts with a dressing. You will be given a compression bandage and stocking to wear.
At St Joseph’s Hospital the surgeon will perform endothermal ablation as a “walk in walk out” procedure. After the operation you will be asked to take a gentle walk for 5 -10 minutes, after which you can have a tea or coffee. When you leave a responsible adult should take you home in a car or taxi and stay with you for at least 24 hours. Be near a telephone in case of an emergency.
If you are worried about anything, in hospital or at home, contact the healthcare team. They should be able to reassure you or identify and treat any complications.
Do not drive, operate machinery or do any potentially dangerous activities (this includes cooking) for at least 24 hours and not until you have fully recovered feeling, movement and co-ordination.
To reduce the risk of a blood clot, make sure you follow carefully the instructions of the healthcare team.
When you go home you may have bandages on your legs. The healthcare team will explain how and when the bandages should be removed. You will then need to wear support stockings. The healthcare team will discuss this with you.
Once at home, be as active as possible. When you are resting, keep your legs raised on a stool. Try to return to normal activities as soon as possible, unless you are told otherwise.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Do not drive while you are taking painkillers that make you drowsy. Do not drive until you are confident about controlling your vehicle and always check your insurance policy and with your doctor.
Most people make a full recovery. Any aching, swelling or discomfort caused by the procedure should gradually improve.
Any skin pigmentation caused by the varicose veins will probably stay but is less likely to get worse.
You should notice that the varicose veins have gone as soon as the support stockings or bandages are removed. Any residual veins can be easily treated with injection sclerotherapy.
Varicose veins can come back, either in the same place or in other parts of your leg (risk: 1 in 3 in 5 years).