UNM Department of Surgery

Department of Surgery
Vascular Surgery Division

UNM School of Medicine
MSC 10 5610
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131
Phone: (505) 272-5850

Vascular Surgery

Radiofrequency Ablation

Ablation Therapy For Varicose Veins

Varicose veins occur when a vein fails to pump blood efficiently. Instead of blood moving smoothly through the vein back toward the heart, it puddles in the vein itself, causing the bulged appearance and discomfort associated with varicose veins. In ablation therapy, the incompetent vein is closed off, preventing blood from pooling there.

Multiple types of ablation therapy are available, including laser surgery and sclerotherapy. One relatively new technique is radiofrequency ablation, which has become increasingly popular since 2007 due to advancements in technology.

What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation, or RFA, uses the heat created by high-frequency electrical current in order to seal off an incompetent vein or remove damaged tissue. In addition to vein treatments, this procedure is frequently used by doctors for delicate procedures, such as tumor removals and certain heart surgeries. It’s well-suited to these precise treatments because RFA is minimally invasive and does not damage surrounding tissues.

What Happens During Radiofrequency Ablation?

RFA is an outpatient procedure. You will be given a local anesthetic, and under the guidance of an ultrasound, a radiofrequency catheter will be inserted into the vein being targeted for ablation. Once the radiofrequency energy has traveled through the vein, the heat generated will promote the formation of scar tissue, which in turn will close the vein. Radiofrequency ablation therapy is a treatment with a very high rate of success and minimal risk.