Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is one of the 2 Medicare Approved “Minimally Invasive” techniques for the treatment of major veins, previously treated by “stripping” surgery.
As with Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), RFA relies on thermal (heat based) damage to the vein, that leads to immediate closure of the vein. Once the vein is treated by RF Ablation, it will gradually undergo complete absorption by the body and disappear over time.
The published success of Radiofrequency Ablation treatment is between 95-98%, with far fewer complications than surgery. Due to the lower temperatures utilised to heat the affected vein, post RFA discomfort is much less than that experienced with Endovenous Laser Ablation. In our experience, a significantly less number of patients complain of discomfort and pain following treatment with RF Ablation.
With ultrasound guidance, an RFA fibre is placed into the abnormal vein through a tiny incision. The vein is then numbed with local anaesthetic, and the RFA fibre is activated. The RFA Fibre has a unique design and consists of a 7 cm length active tip, through which the RFA energy is released. The vein wall is heated along this 7 cm length section of the RFA Fibre. Generally speaking, the fibre is activated for 20 to 40 seconds for every 7 cm length of vein, making the whole procedure quick and easy to perform. The release of Radiofrequency Energy from the tip of the Fibre, produces a thermal reaction in the vein wall along the treated section, resulting in collapse and sclerosis of the vein wall with minimal discomfort afterwards.
CARE AFTER SURGERY
Your surgeon will ask you about any health problems you may have had. Some health problems may interfere with surgery, anaesthesia and care after surgery. Your surgeon needs to know your medical history to help plan the best possible treatment. Please also provide your surgeon with a list of all medicines you are currently taking, or have recently taken, including aspirin, cough medicines, hormone replacement medicines, or the contraceptive pill.
EFFECTS OF SURGERY
While surgery on varicose veins is considered to be safe and effective, there are a few possible side effects. If you have any concerns or want to know more please contact us.
Scars usually fade, but sometimes they are permanent and unsightly. Healing and fading of scars can take a few months. Patients should not get the legs sunburnt during this time as this can make the scars worse.
Brown discolouring can occur over some of the treated area. Although the colour usually fades, sometimes it is permanent and unsightly.
Sore lumps may be due to bruises (in the space left where the veins came from) or blood clots within remaining short lengths of vein. These lumps usually shrink and lose their soreness over a few weeks.
Some nerves run close to surface veins. They may be injured during surgery, particularly when a stripping operation is performed between the knee and ankle. This may cause some numbness,“pins and needles” or, occasionally, pain. Recovery from this can be very slow, up to two years in some people, and in rare cases it is permanent.
Loss of long saphenous veins
Removal of the long saphenous vein can prevent its future use as a heart artery bypass. Therefore it is usually not removed in patients who have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or artery disease in the legs or arms. However, a badly diseased long saphenous vein is of no use for a heart artery bypass.
Side effects of anaesthesia
Modern anaesthesia is safe with few risks, however some people do have a serious reaction to anaesthetic drugs. If you have ever had a reaction to an anaesthetic drug, tell your surgeon.
Complications after surgery
Fortunately, serious problems after surgery are uncommon.
Infection may occur in wounds, especially in patients who have ulcers.
Blood clots can occur in the deep veins.