McLaren Health Care
Varicose Vein Treatment

Varicose Vein Treatment

Venous Ablation

A minimally-invasive procedure for varicose veins, known as venous ablation, is available at McLaren Central Michigan.  The treatment uses radiofrequency energy to eliminate varicose veins, and unlike older techniques, most patients are up and walking immediately after the procedure, returning to normal activity the next day. 

Benefits of venous ablation:

  • Minimally-invasive
  • More comfortable for patients compared with past procedures
  • Requires only local anesthetic 
  • Can be performed in under an hour
  • Leg pain and fatigue caused by varicose veins disappear almost instantly
  • Most patients can resume normal activity the next day

How does it work?

The breakthrough in varicose vein treatment came with catheter technology, the same kind that is used for heart interventions.  Under a local anesthetic, a surgeon threads a catheter, about the thickness of a spaghetti noodle, into the vein to heat it from within and seal it off, rather than removing it.

The surgeon pulls the catheter through the vein, using radiofrequency (RF) to heat the vein walls, causing them to collapse inward.  The lower temperature of RF energy is more comfortable for patients compared with other higher temperature methods.

Once the vein is sealed, the body automatically re-routes blood flow through healthier vessels and normal circulation is restored.  The symptoms of pain and fatigue that usually accompany varicose veins disappear almost instantly, and the swollen veins begin to deflate in a week or two, restoring legs to their original healthy appearance.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Problems resulting from varicose veins can include:

  • Unattractive, enlarged veins in the legs
  • Leg pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Leg fatigue
  • Chronic infections
  • Skin ulcerations

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins generally occur when the valves in the primary leg vein fail.  The purpose of the valves is to push blood back up toward the heart, but when they can no longer do the job, blood pools in the veins, causing both cosmetic and medical complications.  Women with more than two children and individuals who work on their feet, such as nurses and teachers, are particularly at risk.  Heredity and obesity are also factors.

Prior to venous ablation, the only surgical treatment available was known as vein stripping, a painful procedure that required a general anesthetic and weeks of recovery.  Most patients avoided the operation if they could, choosing to continue to live with unattractive, sometimes painful varicose veins.

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