What Is EVLT, RFA, or a VenaSeal Ablation Procedure Like?

When describing varicose vein treatment, ablation means to destroy or remove a vein and eliminate its functionality. This is done with thermal energy (radiofrequency or lasers), vein adhesives (cyanoacrylate glue), chemicals (sclerotherapy), or dual techniques (mechanochemical ablation). Book an appointment with vein experts in New Jersey to learn about these options.

When lasers ablate the vein, it’s called endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), or endovenous laser therapy (EVLT). Vein doctors insert a catheter into the vein and thread a fiber through it, which they activate with laser energy. This cauterizes the vein, and blood is rerouted into healthy veins. The treated vein is harmlessly reabsorbed by the body. A similar technique is to ablate the vein with radiofrequency (RFA). Sound waves aren’t as hot as lasers, so some patients find RFA more comfortable than EVLT. Both are painless, non-surgical procedures.

Options for vein ablation without heat include VenaSeal, which seals the vein with cyanoacrylate glue, and sclerotherapy, which injects an irritant into the vein to close it. In addition, mechanochemical ablation injects a sclerosant into the vein through a catheter that rotates to destroy the vein. Like EVLT and RFA, non-thermal treatments are painless and non-surgical and don’t require large incisions, general anesthesia, or hospitalization.

What is it like to have veins ablated? What does vein ablation recovery feel like, and how long does it take to recover? The answers might surprise you.

Best Vein Collapse Procedure: Sclerotherapy vs Ablation?

People often mean EVLA or RFA when they say “ablation” since the word is in both procedures’ names. But non-thermal methods like sclerotherapy ablate veins too. Which procedure is right for you? They all have pros and cons, but each minimally invasive procedure is low-risk, quick, and gentle, so you have options to choose from.

A thermal ablation treatment, like EVLT and RFA, requires a local anesthetic to protect surrounding tissue from heat. It’s injected around the vein as a buffer. Some patients are allergic to it, so they should use a non-thermal alternative. Conversely, some patients are allergic to sclerosants, so they should use RFA, EVLA, or VenaSeal.

Vein adhesives remain in the body. If you’re allergic to cyanoacrylate glue, or don’t want a substance in your body, you shouldn’t use VenaSeal. Allergies to any of these treatments are rare, and they’re often mild. For instance, the patient might have temporary redness or swelling. Anaphylaxis is not a common reaction to these treatments, but your vein doctor will take every precaution to choose the optimal procedure.

How Painful Is Vein Ablation?

When you choose qualified vein specialists, vein ablation isn’t painful. Our Harvard-trained vein doctors use ultrasound guidance to position devices precisely and administer treatment gently. We apply a numbing solution to the skin and inject an anesthetic for thermal treatments. Patients should only feel a pinching sensation (with sclerotherapy or mechanochemical ablation), a hardening sensation (with VenaSeal), or warmth (with EVLT or RFA). These sensations are mild and brief.

What Is Recovery Like from a Catheter Vein Procedure?

Recovery is immediate after vein ablation procedures, meaning you can walk around and even go back to work. There’s no recovery time required. Your vein will close and be absorbed over a period of days or weeks, but you don’t have to limit your life while it happens. However, you should avoid strenuous activity, like weightlifting, for a week or two.

You should resume activities like walking immediately, with your doctor’s permission. Depending on your procedure, you might have a small bandage. You may need to wear a compression stocking on the treated leg for a few days. Our doctors will advise you to avoid long periods of sitting or standing still. They might also recommend that you elevate your legs while resting or apply ice for swelling. Each patient heals differently, so you may have mild redness or bruising if you’re prone to that.

Is Small Saphenous Vein Ablation Quicker Than Surgery?

Vein ablation is a procedure that’s faster to perform than surgery. Since you don’t need general anesthesia, treatment starts promptly and takes 15-30 minutes. If you have widespread vein damage, you may need more than one session. Vein ablation also works faster than vein stripping surgery. Surgical procedures cause swelling and inflammation and often involve stitches that take time to dissolve. It takes longer to see improvement, because of surgical bruising and swelling. Surgery requires downtime for recovery.

In contrast, ablation starts working right away. Most patients see a difference within a week, with full results achieved between two weeks and two months after treatment, on average. Symptoms caused by varicose veins, like pain, itching, and cramping, should resolve even sooner.

How Soon Can I Drive After Varicose Vein Surgery vs Ablation?

You can drive immediately after minimally invasive vein treatment if you choose to. You don’t need anyone to join you for the appointment, although you’re welcome to bring someone. You cannot drive yourself home from vein stripping surgeries that involve general or spinal anesthesia. The vascular surgeon might require someone to accompany you to surgery if you need general anesthesia.

How Long Off Work After Varicose Vein Surgery vs Ablation?

Non-surgical ablation requires no time off work. We often complete vein treatments for patients during their lunch breaks. Varicose vein surgery requires a period of recovery. The duration depends on the extent of the surgery. Some people might need a few days or a week off, while some may take a month or more to recover.

How Bad Is Pain Post Ablation vs Post Varicose Vein Surgery?

It’s exceedingly rare for patients to feel pain after ablation. Everyone has different pain thresholds, and treating varicose veins is a medical procedure. So, it’s possible to have discomfort, swelling, or irritation. But if you have significant pain, call your doctor. Surgery involves multiple deep incisions, typically in the groin, thigh, and calf. So, there is more pain after vein stripping surgery than ablation.

Do Varicose Veins Come Back After Laser Treatment or RFA?

A properly treated varicose vein or spider vein can’t return. Ablation treatments like EVLT and RFA heat the vein until it creates scar tissue that occludes the vein. However, it’s possible to have a failed treatment at a vein center with inadequate technology. Some dermatological and cosmetic vein centers conduct treatment for varicose veins without using ultrasound guidance or treating the cause. In these instances, it’s possible that the vein isn’t fully sealed off, or that new veins develop nearby, since the cause is unresolved.

What’s the Best Vein and Laser Ablation Center in New Jersey?

For an easy vein ablation recovery, visit our award-winning vein centers in New Jersey. Our Paramus, Clifton, Woodbridge, Woodland Park, and Scotch Plains vein treatment centers are all fully accredited and run by board certified vein doctors. We offer the minimally invasive procedures described above, so you can choose what appeals to you.