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Sclerotherapy vs. Radiofrequency Ablation

Author: Blog Author Posted: January 22, 2018 Category:

Do You Suffer from Leg Vein Disease?

Leg vein disease (known clinically as chronic venous insufficiency of the legs) is a problem that affects millions of Americans. This condition is often accompanied by unsightly varicose veins/spider veins and causes symptoms that range from pain, swelling, itching, and cramping to legs that are restless or feel exceptionally heavy and/or tired.

Your Treatment Options

If you are concerned about your vein health, the course of vein treatment you choose should address the specific details of your condition and be pursued under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. For example, people who suffer from spider veins (the smaller and more spindly cousins of textbook varicose veins) or diseased veins that are considered superficial and located close to the surface of the skin, you may want to consider looking into sclerotherapy or radiofrequency ablation.


The go-to treatment for the correction of spider veins, sclerotherapy employs a chemical solution that causes diseased veins to collapse inward and ultimately disappear as it gradually reabsorbs into the tissue that surrounds it. Upon collapse, the blood that formerly flowed through the vein is automatically and naturally redirects to healthy veins that lie nearby. The sclerotherapy process presents no significant risk to the functional circulatory system.

Minimally invasive and relatively simple, this procedure requires no anesthesia and can be performed right in your doctor’s office. To perform sclerotherapy, physicians inject the chemical solution (otherwise known as a sclerosant) directly into targeted veins using a fine hypodermic needle. The entire process generally takes only minutes to complete.

Although you will need to wear compression stockings for several days after undergoing sclerotherapy, you can typically walk and resume your normal activities right away. In fact, movement will actually speed healing because it helps reroute blood to healthier veins deeper in your leg tissue.

Radiofrequency Ablation

Because spider veins generally form just under the skin, Radiofrequency Ablation (or RFA) is also an effective method to eliminate them. Great for all diseased veins of shallow placement, RFA operates under many of same principles as sclerotherapy but replaces the chemical sclerosant with a small wire that produces electromagnetic radio waves. Introduced subcutaneously through an injected catheter, this wire serves as a targeted source of heat that causes the vein to close and seal shut.

You will be able to walk soon after RFA treatment, but you should wait for about 24 before you return to normal activities. Because RFA healing times are generally a bit longer than the healing times that are associated with sclerotherapy. compression stockings should be worn for a couple weeks rather than a couple days. Within several weeks of the procedure, however, patients typically see a marked and dramatic improvement in the look and feel of their lower extremities.

For More Information

If you live in the greater Missoula, Montana area and have questions about sclerotherapy and/or radiofrequency ablation, contact Dr. David H Bellamah and the rest of the medical team at a the Bellamah Vein Center.