Radio Frequency Ablation Varicose Veins


Endovenous radio frequency ablation (RFA) of varicose veins is an alternative to surgical treatment of varicose veins. It does not require hospitalisation, general anaesthesia, or down time for recovery. It is performed under a local anaesthetic, in an office-based setting, with no surgical wounds or permanent scars. It is a relatively new treatment modality but trial results of 2-5 year follow-up demonstrate equivalent (if not better) results compared to surgery for varicose veins in terms of faster recovery, cosmesis and recurrence rates, and much better than sclerotherapy alone. It provides a similar result to endovenous laser ablation (EVLT) of varicose veins but is cheaper and less painful.

Under local anaesthesia, an RFA probe is introduced into the vein to be treated through a small skin puncture. The probe produces heat to seal off a length of vein in the thigh or calf as an alternative to surgical stripping. The remaining lumpy varicose veins are then treated with sclerotherapy. The procedure takes 45-60 minutes per leg, and you are able to drive home. The leg will be in compression bandaging for 48 hours and then a compression stocking will be worn for 2-3 weeks to help the legs recover. Regular activity and ambulation is encouraged.


Potential risks are as for sclerotherapy, because injections are required to treat the lumpy veins not treated by the laser.

Thermal injury to overlying skin and surrounding structures such as sensory nerves are uncommon due to precautions taken with cold local anaesthetic infiltration.