Radio-frequency Ablation, A Non-Invasive Treatment for Varicose Veins

Virginia Vein Care pic

Virginia Vein Care
Image: virginiaveincare.com

Dr. Lawrence J. Markovitz MD is the Medical Director of Virginia Vein Care. Virginia Vein Care, which has three clinics all in the Greater Washington D.C. area, is focused on providing treatment for a range of vein diseases including the treatment of varicose and spider veins. Among the procedures that Dr. Lawrence J. Markovitz performs in order to treat varicose veins is radiofrequency ablation.

Until fairly recently most of the treatments for varicose veins were invasive, requiring the surgical removal of vein segments. These procedures carried the risk of surgical complications and patients recovered slowly from the procedures. More recently, however, there has been a move away from invasive treatments of varicose veins towards non-invasive treatments.

Radiofrequency ablation is the use of radiofrequency waves in order to close varicose veins. Due to the size of the catheter that holds the emitting device, radiofrequency ablation is not appropriate for thread veins, but is used to treat the underlying cause of venous disease. Before the procedure an ultrasound is taken of the leg in order to map the varicose segments; the patient is then given a local anesthetic. The catheter is then inserted and guided to the appropriate point in the vein with the help of the ultrasound. When the vein has been closed, the catheter is removed. Patients resume normal activities immediately after radiofrequency ablation procedures though a patient will need to wear a compression stocking for a week afterwards.

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Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

Lawrence J. Markovitz, MD, has served as the medical director of Virginia Vein Care since 2008. In that time, Lawrence J. Markovitz, MD, has focused on performing minimally invasive procedures to treat varicose veins and other vein conditions.

In a normally functioning leg vein, valves permit the flow of blood up toward the heart and close to prevent backward flow. When these valves cease to function or function abnormally, however, blood begins to pool in the leg and can cause the vein to twist or swell. Statistically, this occurs more often in older individuals, as age can weaken the vein walls and prevent valves from closing properly.

Pregnancy is also a risk factor for varicose veins, because it lessens blood flow from the legs to the pelvic region while increasing overall blood volume. When this occurs, an excess of blood in the legs can cause the veins to swell. Pregnancy hormones may also weaken the vein walls, as may the hormones of premenstruation and menopause. These factors may contribute to the significantly higher rate of varicose veins in women as compared to men.

Other risk factors for varicose veins include a family history of the condition and a congenital predisposition to valve malfunction. Those with a personal medical history of blood clots in the lower extremities may have a higher predisposition as well. Finally, obese patients and those who sit or stand for extended periods may also be at greater risk of developing varicose veins during their lifetimes.