Endovenous Ablation for Varicose Veins: Before Your Procedure

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What is endovenous ablation?

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 heat 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 will use the catheter and special tools to send energy into the vein. The energy damages the tissue inside the vein. The energy and heat come from a laser or from radio waves called radiofrequency energy.

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 takes less than 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 continue your usual activities, but avoid vigorous exercise for about 1 week. You will need to wear compression stockings for 1 week or more.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before the procedure?

Having a procedure can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Bring a list of questions to ask your doctors. It is important that you understand exactly what procedure is planned, the risks, benefits, and other options before your procedure.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery, so talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • Before your procedure, you may speak with an anesthesia provider to discuss your anesthetic options, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to each. This may be on the phone or in person.

Taking care of yourself before the procedure

  • Build healthy habits into your life. Changes are best made several weeks before the procedure, since your body may react to sudden changes in your habits.
    • Stay as active as you can.
    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Cut back or quit alcohol and tobacco.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. If you do not have one, you may want to prepare one so your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors recommend that everyone prepare these papers before a procedure, regardless of the type of procedure or condition.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, please do so using 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.
  • Remove all jewellery, piercings, and contact lenses.
  • Leave your valuables at home.

At the doctor's office

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • A small tube (IV) may be placed in a vein, to give you fluids and medicine to help you relax.
  • Your doctor may numb the area with an anesthetic cream.

Going home

  • You may need someone to drive you home.
  • For your safety, you should not drive until you are no longer taking pain medicines, and you can move and react easily.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure, including activity and when you may return to work.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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