How long does it take to recover from varicose vein treatment

Many patients confess to putting off varicose vein treatment due to fears over pain and recovery time. In this article, we discuss the different procedure options including Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) and Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGFS), and what to expect pre, during and post-treatment, so that you can confidently book-in for an appointment once and for all.

Varicose vein treatment

Due to advances in modern technology, there are a wide range of walk-in-walk-out procedures for varicose vein treatment, that are performed under local anaesthetic in an outpatient setting; this means that you can return home on the same day as your treatment. However, which procedure to choose depends on your type of varicose vein (which should be determined through a duplex ultrasound scan), lifestyle and result expectations, which your vascular consultant surgeon should discuss with you before treatment.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency Ablation is a form of Endothermal Ablation and is used to treat less troublesome varicose veins. Generally, RFA is preferred over Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) as it causes less pain, better results and quicker recovery time. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends RFA as the first line of treatment for varicose veins.

What to expect BEFORE and DURING treatment:

Before the procedure, your surgeon will ask you to sign a consent form and administer local anaesthetic.

During treatment, your surgeon will use an ultrasound to determine the best place in the vein to insert the RFA probe which will be used to transmit heat waves along the tube; this causes the vein walls to collapse and seal shut. As a result, blood flow naturally redirects through other healthy veins. Finally, the RFA probe is removed, punctures dressed and bandaged, and a compression stocking may be applied. The procedure usually takes between 45 – 60 minutes in total.

What to expect AFTER treatment including aftercare and recovery:

You can return home immediately after treatment. Your varicose veins symptoms should improve very quickly and the cosmetic results may take several months while the body heals the veins. Other than wearing compression hosiery for around three weeks, no other aftercare is required.

You may experience some mild pain, bruising and swelling following treatment, which your surgeon could prescribe paracetamol, ibuprofen or codeine for, as well as a spare stocking. Depending on the size and extent of the veins, you may need to keep the bandage and compression stocking on for 2 – 3 days. The bandages can then be removed, but the stocking must be worn day and night for 1 – 2 weeks (except for washing). It is not until the second or third week that it can be taken off at night and only worn during the day. Generally, a follow-up appointment is arranged 4-weeks post-procedure.

  • Working – you can return to work straight away provided your job isn’t too active.
  • Driving – you cannot drive on the same day as your treatment. After that, you can drive as soon as you can make an emergency stop. It is recommended to avoid driving while the bandage is in place (2 – 3 days), as this will hamper your ability to perform an emergency stop.
  • Walking and running – 5 to 10 minutes of walking is recommended every hour you are awake, to help encourage blood circulation in your legs, which prevents blood clots and promotes the healing process. It is best to avoid more vigorous exercise such as jogging, aerobics or gym work-outs until after your follow-up appointment.
  • Swimming and cycling – light, low-impact exercise such as swimming and cycling is good for vein health. Swimming is fine once the bandages have been removed, so long as you wear your stocking. The same applies to cycling but please do avoid more strenuous rides until after your follow-up appointment.
  • Rest – it is important to keep your leg elevated whilst resting to help promote blood flow.
  • Hydration – water and clear fluids are highly advised post-procedure.
  • Flying – avoid flying for 6 weeks after treatment, particularly if you plan to fly long haul (over 8 hours).

Like any surgical procedure, RFA does come with side effects and risks, HOWEVER, these tend to be minor or extremely rare. Your surgeon should discuss these with you before treatment, and you can also find out more information here.

Furthermore, if you decide to undergo RFA treatment with Premier Veins, we will provide:

  • Specific, full, written instructions, including contact details in case you need to talk to us.
  • A 12-month treatment guarantee.

Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGFS)

This procedure is used to treat more troublesome varicose veins.

What to expect BEFORE and DURING treatment:

Before the procedure, your surgeon will ask you to sign a consent form and administer local anaesthetic.

During treatment, your surgeon will use an ultrasound to make on average 3 – 4 small punctures into the vein, no bigger than 2mm, in order to insert tiny tubes through them. Subsequently, your feet are raised higher than your heart, and a clever foam mixture is injected into the tubes which causes the vein walls to collapse and seal shut. As a result, blood flow naturally redirects through other healthy veins. Finally, the tubes are removed, punctures dressed and bandaged, and a compression stocking applied. The procedure usually takes between 30 – 45 minutes in total.

What to expect AFTER treatment including aftercare and recovery:

You can return home immediately after treatment. Your varicose veins symptoms should improve very quickly and the cosmetic results may take several months while the body heals the veins. Other than wearing compression hosiery for around 3 weeks, no other aftercare is required.

You may experience some mild pain, bruising and swelling following treatment, which your surgeon could prescribe paracetamol, ibuprofen or codeine for, as well as a spare stocking. Depending on the size and extent of the veins, you may need to keep the bandage and compression stocking on for 2 – 3 days. The bandages can then be removed, but the stocking must be worn day and night for 1 – 2 weeks (except for washing). It is not until the second or third week that it can be taken off at night and only worn during the day. Generally, a follow-up appointment is arranged 4-weeks post-procedure.

  • Working – you can return to work straight away provided your job isn’t too active.
  • Driving – you cannot drive on the same day as your treatment. After that, you can drive as soon as you can make an emergency stop. It is recommended to avoid driving while the bandage is in place (2 – 3 days), as this will hamper your ability to perform an emergency stop.
  • Walking and running – 5 to 10 minutes of walking is recommended every hour you are awake, to help encourage blood circulation in your legs, which prevents blood clots and promotes the healing process. It is best to avoid more vigorous exercise such as jogging, aerobics or gym work-outs until after your follow-up appointment.
  • Swimming and cycling – light, low-impact exercise such as swimming and cycling is good for vein health. Swimming is fine once the bandages have been removed so long as you wear your stocking. The same applies to cycling but please do avoid more strenuous rides until after your follow-up appointment.
  • Rest – it is important to keep your leg elevated whilst resting to help promote blood flow.
  • Hydration – water and clear fluids are highly advised post-procedure.
  • Flying – avoid flying for 6 weeks after treatment, particularly if you plan to fly long haul (over 8 hours).

Like any surgical procedure, UGFS does come with side effects and risks, HOWEVER, these tend to be minor or extremely rare. Your surgeon should discuss these with you before treatment, and you can also find out more information here.

Like RFA, if you decide to undergo UGFS treatment with us, we will provide:

  • Specific, full, written instructions, including contact details in case you need to talk to us.
  • A 12-month treatment guarantee.

What next?

Now that you are aware of the different, minimally invasive varicose vein treatment options, and what to expect pre, during and post-procedure, it is important to book-in for a consultation with a professional vascular consultant, like the ones we have here in the Premier Veins team.

So what are you waiting for – get your legs back to looking and feeling their best, and speak to a member of our award-winning team to arrange your FREE no-obligation, mini-consultation today.

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Give your legs a new lease of life

Book your FREE, no-obligation mini-consultation today

Clinic locations:

Birmingham

Solihull

Leamington Spa

Opening times:

Mon – Fri: 09:00 – 16:00