2 in 3 men and women suffer from a vein disorder like varicose veins. No one likes the look of those blue clumps and bulges that happen when the valves inside the veins that keep blood flowing from the heart to the legs break down, allowing blood to leak back into the legs and ankles, causing swelling and pain.
The most common treatments, which are surgical, utilize a heated catheter that shrinks the veins, causing them to collapse: lasers that have the same effect of phlebectomy, in which surgeons extract the vein using a crochet-like hook. These invasive treatments can cost between $300 and $6000, depending on your insurance.
Now comes radiofrequency ablation, or RFA. In a non-surgical procedure, doctors deliver energy through a catheter that collapses and seals the faulty vein. Researchers from Barcelona, Spain studied the effects of RFA and 2 other common treatments for 2 years. They found that RFA worked as well as removing the varicose veins, and was just as effective as improving the quality of life for patients. RFA might cost a little more, but doctors don’t have to cut your leg open.
Patients report burning or numbed skin for a few days after RFA. A few report nerve pain in their back and neck. But doctors believe it is a safe and rapid way to fix varicose veins, with treatment sessions lasting about an hour. No needles, few side effects, virtually no recovery time, potentially permanent results? RFA appears to be a great option.