If you have varicose veins, you may be wondering “what is vein ablation?” and “is vein ablation painful?” Here is everything you need to know about the procedure, varicose veins, vein disease, and treatment. If you ever have any questions about our treatment procedures you can always give us a call.
Varicose Veins: A Common Affliction
Varicose veins are fairly common, affecting about 25% of adults. Your veins help keep blood moving back up toward the heart. However, if the valves inside them are weak or show signs of damage, blood can back up in your veins, swelling and distending them. The result is varicose veins, which can be a sign of vein disease.
Risk factors for varicose veins include:
- Being female
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Being overweight or obese
- Family history
- Inactive lifestyle
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time
Varicose veins can cause symptoms including:
- Visibly swollen veins
- Achiness, heaviness, or pain in your legs
- Leg cramps, especially at night
- Swollen feet or ankles
- Itchy or discolored skin
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About the Vein Ablation Procedure
There are a variety of techniques for treating varicose veins, including endovenous (or “within a vein”) ablation. Vein ablation is a minimally invasive technique that uses laser energy to cauterize, or close, varicose veins in order to alleviate symptoms, such as cramping and swelling. It can also help reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Once the laser energy has been delivered, the veins collapse and are permanently sealed closed. The blood flow is now redirected to healthy veins in the surrounding area. Here’s what you should expect with vein ablation in the legs.
Before the Procedure
Before you have the vein ablation procedure scheduled, you will have a consultation with a vein specialist where you can find out details about what is a vein ablation. The doctor will perform a physical exam and check your legs for signs of vein disease. They will ask about your medical history and any other conditions you have been diagnosed with as well as any previous vein treatments you’ve had.
Your doctor will ask about the medications you’re currently taking, including herbal supplements and over-the-counter drugs, and whether you have any allergies. You may need to stop taking blood thinners, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and aspirin before the day of your vein ablation procedure. The doctor will advise you not to shave or apply moisturizer to the treatment areas and to wear loose clothing. Even though sedation isn’t required with vein ablation, you may want to bring someone with you to drive you home after the procedure.
The Day of the Procedure
During the vein ablation procedure, your doctor may use a numbing cream to help reduce pain in the area, and then will clean and sterilize the area. They will use an ultrasound device to visualize the vein and will place an electrode into the vein through a tiny incision. In case you wonder if vein ablation is painful, your doctor will then inject a local anesthetic into the area to numb the tissue and insulate it from the heat of the electrode. The electrode then releases energy which heats the vein, cauterizing it and causing it to close.
You may need to wear protective glasses, and you may feel a slight sensation as the local anesthetic is applied, as well as some pressure when the catheter is inserted. However, the procedure itself is not considered painful. Once it is completed, you’re likely to experience only minimal discomfort. A study published in 2015 found that more than two-thirds of people who underwent vein ablation needed no pain relief after the procedure while about one-third used an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
After the Procedure
After vein ablation, your doctor will provide you with a compression stocking that will help minimize tenderness and bruising. You may also be instructed to have someone drive you home after your appointment. But you can return to regular activities right away. Your vein should close off completely within a week, and your doctor will ask you to return for another ultrasound to check that the vein is completely closed.
The doctor will recommend that you walk as much as possible to help improve circulation and prevent blood clots from forming. Exercise also helps reduce any swelling during your recovery. You will need to keep the treatment site clean and dry for 48 hours afterward. Avoid showering until after this timeframe and don’t immerse the area in a hot tub, bathtub, or pool for up to ten days.
Once the treatment has been completed, you should experience less or no pain and less or no swelling. You should also be able to stand for longer periods and walk further than before. In essence, you should be able to enjoy a better quality of life after having a vein ablation.
Once you have recovered from the laser ablation of varicose veins, you will want to avoid future venous issues. Regular physical activity can help improve circulation along with not sitting for extended periods. Monitor your weight and talk to your doctor if you are overweight. Eat a healthy diet to protect your veins and prevent damage to your blood vessels.
Is Vein Ablation Painful After the Procedure?
Pain and discomfort are minimal after a vein ablation procedure. Many patients do not require pain medication while others may take over-the-counter pain medications as needed. You may experience some tenderness and bruising in the area. Swelling, redness, and burning are also possible, but they resolve quickly. You will be given compression garments to help with swelling and bruising, which will lessen any discomfort you feel. If you follow your doctor’s instructions, it will help reduce any pain. Staying active after the procedure is also important to promote faster healing.
Contact Us to Determine If Vein Ablation is Right for You
If you are suffering from varicose veins due to chronic venous insufficiency, a vein ablation in your legs may help you gain relief from your symptoms. The vein specialists here at USA Vein Clinics can discuss your treatment options and create a plan based on your current condition. Schedule a consultation with our doctors to get your personalized recommendations for treatment. With more than 100 clinic locations around the nation, you can enjoy the convenience of care close to home. Give us a call at 888.768.3467 to learn more about vein ablation and how USA Vein Clinics can help you.