What is endovenous ablation for varicose veins?

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Endovenous ablation for varicose veins: Overview

Endovenous ablation is a procedure to close off varicose veins. Endovenous means that the procedure is done inside the vein. Ablation means a doctor uses something to damage and close off the vein. Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin.

Your doctor will put a needle and wire into the vein. A thin tube (catheter) is placed over the wire and moved into the vein.Your doctor uses the catheter to send energy, a chemical, glue, or a small wire into the vein. The heat used for ablation can come from a laser or from radio waves called radiofrequency energy. The heat, chemical, or wire mildly damages the tissue inside the vein. Then scar tissue closes the vein. Or the glue seals the vein closed.

The procedure is usually done in your doctor's office. You may wear some type of eye protection. You'll be given medicine so you will not feel anything or you will feel relaxed. The procedure may take about 1 hour.

After this treatment, you may have a few bruises along the length of the treated vein. Your doctor may put a bandage on the area.

Most people go home the same day of the procedure. You can do your usual activities after a couple of days. But avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise until your doctor says it's okay. You may need to wear compression bandages or stockings. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear them.

How can you care for yourself after an endovenous ablation for varicose veins?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to take short walks several times a day. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent swelling and blood clots.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for at least a few days.
  • Avoid standing in place or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Most people are able to return to work and normal activities after a couple of days.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Incision care

  • You may have a bandage where the catheter was put in. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.

Ice and elevation

  • Prop up the sore leg on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Wear your compression bandages or stockings 24 hours a day for as long as your doctor says. This may be for 2 or 3 days. Then wear them while you are awake for as long as your doctor says.

How do you prepare for endovenous ablation for varicose veins?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia may make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.

What is endovenous ablation for varicose veins?

Endovenous ablation is a procedure to close off varicose veins. Endovenous means that the procedure is done inside the vein. Ablation means a doctor uses something to damage and close off the vein. Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin.

A doctor may use heat, chemicals, or a small wire to mildly damage the vein. Scar tissue forms and closes the vein. Or a special glue may be used to close the vein. A closed vein loses its source of blood and dies. Eventually, you won't be able to see the veins anymore.

After endovenous laser treatment: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have bleeding where the catheter was inserted.
  • You have swelling in your leg, calf, or foot.
  • Your lower leg, foot, or toes are numb, tingly, or blue.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Swelling in the leg or groin.
    • A color change on the leg or groin. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your usual skin color.
  • You have problems with your vision or balance.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increasing pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from where the catheter was inserted.
    • Pus draining from where the catheter was inserted.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

What can you expect as you recover from endovenous ablation for varicose veins?

You may have a bandage and some bruising along the vein that was treated.

You may need to wear compression bandages or stockings. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear them. Avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise until your doctor says it's okay. This may be for at least a few days.

Most people can get back to their normal routine after a couple of days. But avoid standing or sitting for long periods.

After endovenous ablation for varicose veins: Overview

You've had a treatment for varicose veins. You may have a bandage and some bruising along the vein that was treated.

You may need to wear compression bandages or stockings. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear them. Avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise until your doctor says it's okay. This may be for at least a few days.

Most people can get back to their normal routine after a couple of days. But avoid standing or sitting for long periods.

How is endovenous ablation for varicose veins done?

The procedure is usually done in your doctor's office. You may wear some type of eye protection. You'll be given medicine so you will not feel anything or you will feel relaxed. The procedure may take about 1 hour.

Your doctor will insert a needle and wire into the vein. A thin tube (catheter) is placed over the wire and moved into the vein. Your doctor uses the catheter to send energy, a chemical, glue, or a small wire into the vein. The heat used for ablation can come from a laser or from radio waves (called radiofrequency energy). The heat, chemical, or wire mildly damages the tissue inside the vein. Then scar tissue closes the vein. Or the glue seals the vein closed.

What happens on the day of your endovenous ablation for varicose veins?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the doctor's office

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
  • The procedure may take about 1 hour.

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