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Learning About Endovenous Ablation for Varicose Veins

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.

How is the procedure 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 can you expect after treatment?

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.

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 or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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.

Where can you learn more?

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