How are varicose veins removed?

If you imagine varicose vein treatment to involve painful vein stripping surgery and a long, uncomfortable recovery period, we have good news for you. Modern, non-surgical procedures such as Radiofrequency Ablation, Endovenous Laser Treatment and Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy are now the go-to treatment options. These walk-in-walk-out procedures use local anaesthetic, cause minimal discomfort, have a short recovery time and produce excellent results. Exactly how varicose veins are removed very much depends on your diagnosis and the type of training that your consultant surgeon has undertaken.

Varicose vein treatment options

There are a growing number of treatment options for varicose veins. In this article, we will discuss those that you are most likely to come across at specialist private varicose vein clinics in the UK.

Walk-in-walk-out procedures

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends RFA (a form of Endothermal Ablation) as the first line of treatment for varicose veins. It is a walk-in-walk-out, keyhole procedure that is performed under local anaesthetic.

RFA delivers radiofrequency energy (like laser) to the vein wall through a thin tube which is inserted into the vein above or below the knee. This causes the vein wall to collapse and seal shut, which in turn redirects blood flow to other healthy veins.

Radiofrequency Ablation improves the appearance of less superficial varicose veins and relieves symptoms such as heaviness, pain and skin irritation. It can also be used alongside Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy to treat more troublesome varicose veins. The procedure only leaves a tiny amount of scarring, bruising or swelling which are temporary, and it is generally less painful and more convenient than laser treatment.

Learn more about this procedure in our Guide to Radiofrequency Ablation article >>

Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLA)

EVLA is a similar technique to RFA but uses laser to create the heat that destroys the vein. It is a relatively new treatment, so there is limited evidence for long-term effectiveness. Endovenous Laser Treatment can be a more painful procedure than Radiofrequency Ablation, and it may not be very effective at treating varicose veins in the legs.

Learn more about Laser v Radiofrequency in our article here >>

Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGFS)

Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy involves injecting a chemical foam into the affected vein to damage the lining and cause the vein to close off; this redirects blood flow to other healthy veins. UGFS is a quick treatment th​​at is suitable for more superficial varicose veins. NICE recommends using Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy when Radiofrequency Ablation or Endovenous Laser Treatment is inappropriate.

Learn more about this procedure in our Guide to Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy article >>

Surgery – Ligation and Stripping

According to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), surgery should only be considered if Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy is deemed unsuitable.

Where should I go for varicose vein removal?

There are a wide range of private clinics and hospitals offering varicose vein removal around the UK, but not all of them are specialists in the treatment of venous conditions. Here are a few things to check before you pick up the phone and book a consultation:

  • Will diagnosis and treatment be performed by a qualified specialist venous consultant surgeon?
  • Are the treatments on offer recommended by NICE?
  • Is the clinic regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)?
  • Do past patients recommend the clinic?
  • Does the clinic provide upfront treatment costs?

Talk to an expert

Here at Premier Veins, we offer a FREE, no-obligation mini-consultation for anyone considering varicose treatment at one of our private clinics in in Birmingham, Solihull, Leamington Spa and London. The consultation will provide you with an opportunity to:

To get started, click here and book your FREE mini-consultation or call 0121 769 2646 to speak to a member of our expert team today.

Click to book a varicose veins free consultation

Love your legs again - book a free mini-consultation

Clinic Locations:



Leamington Spa


Opening Times:

Mon – Fri: 09:00 – 19:00