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What is venous ablation?

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Venous ablation is a procedure where laser or radio-frequency energy cauterizes or burns dilated veins, according to RadiologyInfo.org. This closes and seals the veins. The procedure is used cosmetically, but it is most often used to relieve pain, inflammation, ulcers and swelling caused by varicose veins.

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The patient is either given a regional anesthesia and a sedative, or general anesthesia before the operation begins, claims Cleveland Clinic. To perform venous ablation, the doctor uses an ultrasound machine to see the vein. He then threads a catheter into the vein and inserts an electrode or laser fiber through it. The electrode or fiber is activated, which causes the vein to close up. Eventually, it shrinks and is replaced by another vein. The procedure takes about two to three hours. The doctor who performs this procedure is called a vascular surgeon.

Venous ablation is most often an outpatient procedure, though some patients stay briefly in the hospital, claims RadiologyInfo.org. It is less invasive and less painful that the traditional vein stripping.

The patient's downtime is also lessened, though complete recovery from fatigue and pain may take a couple of weeks. The outcome of venous ablation is generally positive, according to Cleveland Clinic.

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