Difference Between Endovenous Laser Ablation and Radiofrequency Ablation?

August 15, 2019 Dr Zil

Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) and Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), are very similar procedures that use heat to treat varicose veins. Both procedures are performed in a clinic, have high success rates and typically require no recovery time. The treatments are usually complete within one hour, are not considered invasive or painful, and no general anaesthetic is required. As both EVLA and RFA are both proven to be very effective, how do you know which method is more suitable for you?

The main difference between Endovenous Laser Ablation and Radiofrequency Ablation is the source of heat that is used to treat the vein. There are a number of other differences that allow each method to be effective at treating particular conditions. Your vascular doctor will determine which treatment is most suitable for your needs.

What Is Endovenous Laser Ablation?

Endovenous Laser Ablation is a procedure in which a very thin laser filament is inserted into a damaged vein in order to close it. The procedure uses ultrasound to track the vein. Once the filament is in place, the laser heats the vein, causing it to close. The procedure takes about an hour, during which most patients experience little or no pain. Then, the doctor will remove the filament and the patient can return home or work.

Our doctors frequently recommend EVLA for patients with large, symptomatic varicose veins. It is also very effective in treating venous insufficiency and reducing the risk of forming blood clots. EVLA can sometimes be more uncomfortable than RFA, and may increase chances of bruising, but provides a very successful outcome. The chances of this are only minimal with the newer laser fibres.

What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?

During the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure, the doctor places a thin catheter into the diseased vein. The catheter emits radio waves, causing the tip of the catheter to heat up and the vein to close. Once the doctor removes the catheter, the vein begins to heal.

RFA is often used to treat the saphenous veins which carry blood from the ankle, lower leg, and thigh to the femoral vein in the thigh. Radiofrequency ablation is nearly 100% effective with little to no recovery time required.

After Vein Treatment

After either treatment, we require patients to wear compression stockings. These help the treated vein to stay closed and also speeds up the healing process. You will have a follow-up appointment shortly after to make sure the vein treatment was successful. If any diseased veins remain, we use ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy to complete the treatment.

Learn more: Varicose vein treatment: what to expect.

Choosing the Best Vein Treatment for You

At The Vein Institute, we require every patient to have a medical consultation prior to treatment. This enables the doctor to determine the best method for your condition.

During your consultation, the doctor will conduct a venous ultrasound and will discuss the benefits, as well as the minor risks associated with treatment. Like any procedure, there are potential risks, but they are minimal for either EVLA or RFA.

Research shows that there are also no differences in the likelihood or degree of postoperative complication rates.

The Vein Institute performs both radiofrequency ablation and endovenous laser ablation as a walk-in and walk-out treatments within our clinic. To learn more about these treatments for varicose veins, talk with one of our specialists today.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 535 017. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.