What Is Varicose Vein Ablation? A Beginner’s Guide

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Table of Contents

  • What Is Varicose Vein Ablation? 
  • Varicose Vein Ablation Procedure
  • Results of Varicose Vein Ablation 
  • Risks Associated With Varicose Vein Ablation
  • Find a Vein Specialist With My Vein Treatment 

Varicose vein ablation is an effective treatment for removing varicose veins, a common vein problem. Varicose veins are blue or purple, twisted, bulging veins that appear near the skin’s surface, usually on the legs. They occur when the valves of your veins get weak or damaged due to excess pressure, causing blood to pool in the veins.1 They aren’t usually painful but can be unsightly and uncomfortable.

Varicose veins can cause painful symptoms, including soreness, swelling, and throbbing. If left untreated, they can lead to complications like leg ulcers. Varicose vein ablation can help treat enlarged varicose veins and relieve painful symptoms. The procedure is also used to eliminate varicose veins for cosmetic purposes. 

The vein ablation procedure involves closing or sealing the varicose vein by directing heat energy or chemicals. Once the problematic vein closes, your blood flow is directed into healthy veins. This restores normal blood circulation and slowly improves the appearance of your veins.2

What Is Varicose Vein Ablation? 

Varicose vein ablation, also called endovenous ablation, is a simple, safe, and minimally invasive procedure to treat affected veins. It has a quick recovery time and leaves minimal scars.3

There are two types of varicose vein ablation — thermal and nonthermal ablation.

Thermal ablation uses heat energy to seal varicose veins. It includes the following treatments:

  • Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) or  Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT): EVLA is the gold standard for varicose vein treatment. It is used under the brand name VenaCure EVLT. In EVLA, a laser fiber delivers targeted heat energy to seal large, untwisted, and superficial varicose veins.
  • Endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA): In RFA, a radiofrequency electrode delivers targeted energy produced from radio waves to heat up and close varicose veins.5 Vein doctors use RFA to treat larger, untwisted varicose veins closer to the skin surface. Its brand names include ClosureFast and Venclose. 

Nonthermal ablation treatment uses a chemical agent instead of heat energy to seal the vein. It includes the following treatments:

  • Cyanoacrylate: Cyanoacrylate uses medical glue called cyanoacrylate to close problematic veins.7 It is commonly known as VenaSeal. It is mainly used to treat large, superficial varicose veins.
  • Microfoam injection: This procedure is like cyanoacrylate. But instead of medical glue, it uses a microfoam agent called polidocanol.8 The microfoam agent is injected into the damaged vein to shut it. It is known by its brand name Varithena. It can treat large or small varicose veins on the legs and thighs.

Varicose Vein Ablation Procedure

The vein ablation procedure is simpler, less invasive, and less painful than surgery. You’ll have to find and visit a vein specialist to get it done. The vein specialist will first clean and numb the area around the varicose veins. 

They will then make a small cut and insert a thin tube or catheter into the damaged vein. Guided by ultrasound technology, they’ll position the catheter and insert the laser fiber or radiofrequency electrode for thermal ablation. For nonthermal ablation, they’ll inject the chemical agent or sclerosant.

The vein specialist may numb the area again. They’ll slowly pull out the catheter along the length of the vein. As the catheter moves through the affected vein, the heat energy or chemical flows through it and seals it shut.9 

Once the damaged vein is shut, the blood flow will redirect into surrounding healthy veins. The treated vein gradually shrinks and disappears. 

Results of Varicose Vein Ablation 

Varicose vein ablation is a quick, outpatient procedure. It takes less than an hour, and you can get back to your daily activities soon. 

After treatment, you’ll feel immediate relief from painful symptoms. You may notice some pain, bruising, or discomfort around the treated area. But this is normal and generally resolves over time. You’ll see results within a few days to a week.10 However, the varicose veins may take a few weeks to fade completely. 

Vein specialists recommend getting up and walking often after treatment to improve blood flow and reduce swelling. You may feel some discomfort while walking, but it will go away. Your vein doctor may also ask you to wear gradient compression stockings for some weeks.11 Compression stockings help keep the recently treated veins closed and reduce discomfort. 

After the procedure, you’ll be asked to avoid standing or sitting in the same position for too long. Avoid strenuous activities like running and jumping or saunas and hot baths for one or two weeks. The heat can open up treated veins and slow down your recovery.12 

Varicose vein ablation treatment is permanent. This means your treated varicose veins won’t come back. However, you may develop new varicose veins in other parts due to vein weakness, damage, or pressure. Consult your vein doctor to learn if these veins can be treated with varicose vein ablation.

Risks Associated With Varicose Vein Ablation

Varicose vein ablation is a safe procedure with a low risk of complications. However, like other procedures, it carries some risks. 

If the cut made for the procedure doesn’t heal properly, it may lead to infection. But the risk of infection is very low. Only one in 1000 people may have an infection requiring antibiotic treatment.13 Also, the catheter used for the procedure may cause itching, irritation, bleeding, bruising, or blood vessel damage. 

Other complications include blood clots near the treated area.14 However, vein specialists are usually very careful during the procedure to minimize risks as much as possible. Some people may have pain and swelling around the treatment site, and your vein doctor will recommend applying ice and taking pain-relief medications like ibuprofen to relieve these symptoms.

If you have swelling and pain or notice signs of infection in the treated area, contact a vein specialist immediately. 

Find a Vein Specialist With My Vein Treatment 

If you have painful varicose veins interfering with your daily life, you may want to consider varicose vein ablation treatment. But first, you’ll need to find a vein specialist. My Vein Treatment’s vein specialist locator tool can help you find a qualified vein doctor in your area. Schedule an appointment with a vein specialist near you to learn if varicose vein ablation treatment is best for you.


  1. National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute: “ Varicose Veins.
  2. RadiologyInfo.org: “ Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins).
  3. RadiologyInfo.org: “ Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins).
  4. Cleveland Clinic: “ Venous Disease Endovenous Thermal Ablation.
  5. StatPearls: “ Varicose Veins Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy.
  6. Trials: “ Mechanochemical endovenous Ablation versus RADiOfrequeNcy Ablation in the treatment of primary great saphenous vein incompetence (MARADONA): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.
  7. Phlebology: “ Cyanoacrylate adhesive embolization and sclerotherapy for primary varicose veins.
  8. Phlebology: “ Novel developments in foam sclerotherapy: Focus on Varithena® (polidocanol endovenous microfoam) in the management of varicose veins.
  9. RadiologyInfo.org: “ Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins).
  10. RadiologyInfo.org: “ Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins).
  11. Johns Hopkins Medicine: “ Endovenous Laser Varicose Vein Surgery.
  12. Johns Hopkins Medicine: “ Endovenous Laser Varicose Vein Surgery.
  13. RadiologyInfo.org: “ Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins).
  14. RadiologyInfo.org: “ Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins).

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