Varicose Vein Treatment: Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) vs Laser Ablation

Years ago, if you wanted to have unsightly varicose veins treated, you had to allow a doctor to cut into your groin, find the top of the diseased vein, and tie it off. Then, the doctor would “strip” the vein out, leaving two scars: one at your groin and one at your knee. This painful procedure resulted in bleeding, bruising, and sometimes infection – not to mention three weeks off of work. 

Today’s methods of treating varicose veins are a cinch compared to that!

At San Diego Varicose Vein Treatment Center, not only can we help get rid of your varicose veins with a minimally invasive procedure, but we can also have you back at your daily activities in as few as 24 hours. 

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) vs Laser Ablation

If you have varicose veins and have done some research on different ways to get rid of them, you may be familiar with the terms “radiofrequency ablation” and “laser ablation.” The two procedures are similar, but they have their differences, too.  As you read on, we’re pretty sure we won’t have to spell out for you which one we like best. 

Let’s start with their similarities. 

Both RFA and laser ablation are minimally invasive procedures that allow us to eliminate varicose veins. Both are performed in the office rather than in an operating room. And both use thermal energy to close the offending blood vessel from the inside so that the blood is redirected through healthier veins.  But here’s where they differ: 

Radiofrequency Ablation works more efficiently

RFA uses radiofrequency energy in 20-second bursts, targeting the collagen in the vein wall and causing the vein to shrink. This shrinkage happens during the procedure, so your vein begins to close while you’re in our office. Soon after, the closed vein becomes absorbed by the surrounding tissues. Although lasers do eventually close the vein, it doesn’t always happen right way.  

Radiofrequency Ablation causes less pain and faster healing

Patients who undergo RFA to treat their varicose veins report less post-procedural pain than those who undergo laser ablation. In once study, patients treated with RFA used an average of 8.8 painkillers over the first three days, and 20.4 over the first ten days. Patients treated with laser ablation used 14.2 and 35.9 respectively. Additionally, 60% of the RFA group resumed their daily activities within 3 days, whereas the same was true for only 50% of the laser ablation group. 

Radiofrequency results in less bruising

Lasers are designed to target the vein wall, but their strong energy often punctures it instead. This causes the blood vessel to leak, resulting in excessive bruising. The efficiency of RFA results in less collateral damage. 

If you guessed that we prefer RFA over laser ablation, you’re right. It works more efficiently and causes less pain and bruising. In our opinion, RFA is the far better choice for treating varicose veins. 

Looking to treat your varicose veins?

You’ll be in great hands with Cardiologist Dr. Behzad Taghizadeh and the rest of us at San Diego Varicose Vein Treatment Center.  Our team is highly trained to diagnose and treat your varicose veins. We’re proud to offer radiofrequency ablation and a number of other procedures that can eliminate your diseased veins for good. And because we use ultrasound technologies to reveal the entire venous structure of your lower extremities, we can also uncover and treat vascular conditions you may not even know you have yet. 

For more information on our practice or our procedures, call us today