Coronavirus (COVID-19) Visitor Policy & Advisory: Adventist HealthCare is taking appropriate steps to protect the safety of our patients, caregivers and community. Learn More
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Living Well > Health Library > Varicose Veins: Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins. (Ablation means a doctor uses heat to damage tissue, which makes scar tissue form. This scar tissue closes the vein.) This technique uses radiofrequency energy (instead of laser energy) to heat up and damage the wall inside a vein. This usually closes off a varicose vein in the leg.
To treat a varicose vein, radiofrequency energy is directed through a thin tube (catheter) inserted through a small incision in the vein. It can be used on large veins in the leg and can be done in an office setting using local anesthesia or a mild sedative. You will be able to walk following the treatment and recovery typically is short.
After treatment, you will wear compression stockings for 1 week or more. To follow up, your doctor will use duplex ultrasound to make sure that the vein is closed.
Possible side effects of radiofrequency ablation include:
The more experience your doctor has had with radiofrequency, the less risk you are likely to have. Talk to your doctor about how often these side effects happen in his or her practice.
Radiofrequency ablation closes off varicose veins in about 88 out of 100 people. That means it doesn't work in about 12 out of 100 people.footnote 1
For help deciding whether to have a procedure for varicose veins, see:
If you are thinking of radiofrequency ablation treatment, consider some questions to ask about varicose vein treatment. These questions include: How much do the exam and treatment cost? How many treatments does the doctor think you will need?
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Van den Bos R, et al. (2009). Endovenous therapies of lower extremity varicosities: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 49(1): 230–239.
Other Works Consulted
Khilnani NM, et al. (2010). Multi-society consensus quality improvement guidelines for the treatment of lower extremity superficial venous insufficiency with endovenous thermal ablation from the Society of Interventional Radiology, Cardiovascular Interventional Radiological Society of Europe, American College of Phlebology, and Canadian Interventional Radiology Association. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, 21(1): 14–31.
Current as of: March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineDavid A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
Current as of: March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.