What Is Radiowave Schlerotherapy?

Treatment of varicose and spider veins used to consist of a painful series of injections, with radiowave sclerotherapy the pain is a thing of the past.

Unsightly varicose and spider veins are seem mainly among women. They are a cosmetic concern, but they also can cause other problems such as achy, painful legs and leg fatigue which is prolonged with standing. Left untreated,varicose veins can lead to more serious conditions such as cutaneous and soft tissue damage. These veins are the result of leaky valves. Veins are formed when venous blood leaves its normal path of flow and travels into a congested leg. This is usually the result of valve damage or disease, but can also be caused from excessive standing. Most times, varicose or spider veins are a heredity factor.

Treatment of varicose and spider veins used to involve painful injections into the veins with a caustic substance that would cause the vein to collapse. Other treatments of varicose veins included what is called a phlebectomy or "stripping" of the vein, which removed the problem causing vein. Vein stripping has a high occurrence of surgical complications. Thanks to modern technology, we now have a procedure called radiowave or radiofrequency sclerotherapy. Also called Radiowave Occlusion or RF which stands for Radiofrequency Ablation, it is an FDA approved technique that is basically non-invasive, it requires either a local or general anesthesia (usually a local anesthetic (lidocaine) injected into the leg along the entire course of the vein). Ultrasound is used as a guide when placing the catheter into the vein.A tiny non-scarring incision into the leg is made, anda thin catheter with an electrode tip is then inserted into the vein where radiowave energy is delivered, which then sealsthe vein. The use of radiofrequency causes thermal destruction of the venous tissue when the electrical energy passes through in high frequency and at alternating currents which convert to heat. The electrodes touch the walls of the vein to directly deliver energy via current to the tissues. A constant temperature with the wall of the vessel is kept and should not exceed 85 degrees Celsius to avoid risking damage to surrounding tissues. It is the heat delivered that causes the vein to shrink. When the procedure is complete, the catheter is gradually withdrawn. It is important to let the doctor know during the procedure if you experience any sudden feeling of heat to avoid nerve injury or damage.

Post-treatment usually involves wearing special stockings called compression stockings, usually on both legs regardless if only one is treated. These stockings keep pressure on the veins and reduce the incidence of bruising. Any bruising from the procedure usually will not last over one week. Resuming normal activity is important, however, bed rest and the lifting of heavy objects is forbidden. You will be rechecked by the doctor in usually three to seven days to have a sonogram (ultrasound) to ensure that there is no evidence of a thrombosis (blood clot).


Complications are rare with this procedure, but deep vein thrombosis can occur. It is extremely important to follow all post-procedure instructions and to notify your doctor immediately of any problems such as loss of feeling or leg pain.Complete occlusion of the vein generally takes a period of six weeks after treatment. Radiofrequency occlusion is effective in approximately 95% of patients.

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