The Downside to Vein Ablation: Potential Side Effects


    Venous ablation is a newer method for treating varicose veins, boasting better outcomes with fewer drawbacks compared to traditional procedures. However, it’s important to note that some side effects and complications can still occur. Varicose veins can affect one’s confidence and wellbeing, driving some to seek treatments like vein ablation. This procedure involves closing off affected veins to alleviate pain and swelling. Yet, it’s crucial to be aware that there may be potential long-term side effects or downtime from vein ablation, outweighing the initial cosmetic concerns.

    What are varicose veins?

    Swollen and twisted veins, known as varicose veins, pop up mostly on legs, showing off a blue or purple hue. They aren’t a pretty sight and are hard to cover up. Plus, they mess with blood flow, bringing on uncomfortable feelings like:

    • Aching and heaviness in legs and feet, especially after standing or walking for ages
    • Leg swelling, burning sensations, and cramps

    What is venous ablation?

    A top choice for clearing up varicose veins is venous ablation. It works by using heat or radio waves to seal up those swollen veins. With the veins closed off, blood flows to healthier ones deeper inside. As the varicose veins empty out, the body soaks them up, and they vanish from the skin’s surface.

    While radiofrequency ablation effectively removes varicose veins, it has its drawbacks. One downside is the intense pain many patients feel. During the procedure, the surgeon burns the vein to create scar tissue, blocking its blood supply and reducing the appearance of varicose veins. But this burning process often causes severe pain, described as burning, prickling, and stinging, which can persist even after leaving the operating room.

    Potential Side Effects of Vein Ablation

    Vein ablation has long-term and short-term side effects, which patients have to be aware of. Make sure to talk about these with your doctor before starting treatment. They should also take precautions to minimize these risks throughout your care.

    Recurrence of Varicose Veins

    Vein ablation aims to fix damaged veins, but there’s a chance new varicose veins could pop up later on, or the treated vein might act up again, causing symptoms to return. It’s important to remember this for long-lasting results.

    Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

    While uncommon, there’s a small chance of getting symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein) after vein ablation procedures. The risk goes up for patients with specific pre-existing conditions or risk factors.

    Blot Clots and Swelling

    After venous ablation, there’s a slight chance of getting blood clots. But your doctor will do things to lower this risk. They might wrap up the treated area and have you wear special socks to help. Nevertheless, look for signs of blood clot after vein ablation to ensure proper treatment is applied.


    After a venous ablation, there’s a tiny chance of getting an infection. But don’t worry, your doctor can do things to lower this risk and keep you safe. It’s important to choose a doctor who’s board-certified and has lots of experience doing these procedures. After your treatment, be sure to follow your doctor’s advice on cleaning the area to keep it germ-free.

    Skin Discoloration and Scarring

    Sometimes, the skin around where you got treated can change color, either getting darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation). This might stick around forever. Also, even though the cuts made during these procedures are usually tiny, there’s a chance you might have a little scar. But usually, they’re small and not too noticeable.


    Sometimes, the vein that was treated can get inflamed, which is called phlebitis, and it can be painful. Sometimes, you might need treatment for it.

    Skin Burns

    Once in a blue moon, the laser or radiofrequency catheter used in the procedure might accidentally burn the skin around it. That’s why it’s super important for healthcare folks to use the right techniques and gear to stop this from happening.

    Numbness or Tingling

    Leg pain after vein ablation may be due to the aftermath of the treatment. Sometimes, your leg might feel a bit numb or tingly, especially around where you got cut or along the treated vein. But don’t worry, this feeling usually gets better as time goes on.

    Benefits of Vein Ablation

    Whether vein ablation is right for you depends on your situation and how serious your vein problems are. Treatments like endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can really help many people with varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Here’s what to think about:

    • Relief from Symptoms: Vein ablation is great at easing the pain, swelling, and discomfort that often come with varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Lots of people feel a lot better after these treatments.
    • Looks Better: Varicose veins can make you feel self-conscious. A vein ablation can make your legs look better, which might boost your confidence.
    • Not So Hard on the Body: These procedures are pretty gentle. They don’t need big cuts and usually just need some local anesthesia, so they hurt less and you get better faster compared to old-school surgery.
    • Get Back to Normal Fast: You can usually get back to your usual routine pretty quickly after vein ablation, often within a couple of days. You won’t need to take much time off.
    • Not Too Many Side Effects: While there’s a small chance of side effects, they’re not common. Most people don’t have any big problems from vein ablation, and the good stuff usually outweighs any risks.
    • Another Option for Surgery: Vein ablation is a less intense choice than the old way of stripping veins, which could be really painful and take a long time to get over.
    • Lasts a Long Time: The relief you get from vein ablation can stick around for years. Sometimes veins come back or new ones show up, but many folks enjoy years of feeling better.

    Just remember, talk it over with your doctor to figure out if vein ablation is right for you. They can look at your specific situation and talk about the good and not-so-good parts of the treatment. Not everyone with varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency needs or benefits from these treatments. Your doctor can help you decide what’s best for you.

    Know the Downsides of Vein Ablation Before Scheduling a Treatment

    Are you considering vein ablation for your varicose veins? Understand the potential side effects and benefits. Talk with your doctor about whether it’s the right choice for you. Your doctor can help weigh the pros and cons based on your individual needs.