Interventional Radiology in the
Treatment of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins is a condition that impacts a significant number of individuals, causing physical discomfort and aesthetic concerns.

In recent years, interventional radiologists have become more common in the treatment of this condition, offering minimally invasive procedures that can reduce the impact on the patient’s body. The most common of these treatments include Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) and Sclerotherapy.

This article will explore the various aspects of interventional radiology in varicose vein treatment, addressing issues and questions that someone might have in how an interventional radiologist might be the best option for them in the treatment of venous diseases.  

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins malfunction, causing blood to pool and veins to enlarge.

Interventional radiology procedures have become increasingly popular for their effectiveness in treating varicose veins utilising minimally invasive techniques that reduce the impact on the patient’s body and can allow for a quicker recovery process.

Why Would a Doctor Refer
Me for This Procedure?

Your doctor may refer you to an interventional radiologist to help with treating your varicose veins because you are experiencing:

  • Veins that are dark purple, blue or the same colour as the skin.
  • Veins that look twisted and bulging.
  • An achy or heavy feeling in the legs.
  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in the lower legs.
  • Worse pain after sitting or standing for a long time.
  • Itching around one or more of the veins.
  • Changes in skin colour around a varicose vein.
Varicose Veins

What are some of the treatment options?

Interventional radiologists employ a variety of modern and minimally invasive procedures to treat varicose veins. The choice of treatment will depend on the severity of your condition and the specific characteristics of the affected veins. Below are some common treatments utilised by interventional radiologists:

Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)

EVLT involves the use of laser energy delivered through a thin fibre inserted into the affected vein. The laser heats and seals the vein, causing it to collapse and redirect the blood flow to healthier veins.

This procedure is typically suitable for treating larger varicose veins with faulty valves, typically located in the saphenous veins.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

RFA utilises radiofrequency energy to generate heat, which is delivered through a catheter to close off the diseased vein. The closed vein is then gradually absorbed by the body. 

RFA is like EVLT in that they are both effective in treating larger veins affected by venous reflux. But while both EVLT and RFA are highly effective in treating varicose veins, the choice between the two often depends on the specific characteristics of the patient’s veins, the interventional radiologist’s preference, and the available equipment in the medical facility. Both procedures though have proven to be effective in the management of varicose veins.


In sclerotherapy, a liquid or foam sclerosant is injected directly into the varicose vein, causing irritation and subsequent closure of the vein. This procedure is often used, and more ideal, in the treatment of smaller veins and spider veins.

Wondering If You Qualify for Varicose Veins Treatment?

How Do I Prepare for the Procedure?

Preparation for interventional radiology procedures for varicose veins is generally minimal. You are advised to inform your healthcare providers about any medications they are taking, allergies, or pre-existing conditions. Additionally, you may be instructed to avoid eating or drinking for a specific period before the procedure.

What Happens During the Procedure?

During the interventional radiology procedure, you are usually awake, and local anaesthesia is administered to the targeted area. The interventional radiologist guides a thin catheter through the affected vein, using imaging techniques such as ultrasound for precision.

pae recovery

What Is the Recovery Normally Like?

One of the significant advantages of interventional radiology for varicose veins is the relatively quick and comfortable recovery. You can often resume normal activities within a day or two, with minimal discomfort. Compression stockings may be recommended to aid in healing and reduce swelling. You will be asked to attend a aollow-up appointment with the interventional radiologists to ensure that the recovery process is progressing as expected.

What are the risks?

While interventional radiology procedures for varicose veins are generally safe, like any medical intervention, there are some risks. Potential complications may include bruising, infection, or damage to nearby blood vessels. However, these risks are minimal compared to traditional surgical options, making interventional radiology a preferred choice for many.

What are the benefits?

The minimally invasive nature of these procedures means smaller incisions, reduced pain, and faster recovery times. Additionally, interventional radiology allows for targeted treatment, minimising damage to surrounding tissues. The cosmetic outcomes are often superior, with less scarring and a more natural appearance.


Patients can typically expect to see improvements in their varicose veins shortly after the procedure. However, the full result may take a few weeks to months to show, as the treated veins gradually fade as the body absorbs them. Follow-up appointments with your doctor or interventional radiologist will monitor progress and address any concerns the patient may have.

Interventional radiology in the treatment of varicose veins, offers patients a less invasive, safe and effective solution with minimal downtime.

As the field continues to advance, interventional radiologists play a role in providing innovative and patient-centred care for those seeking relief from varicose veins. If you are experiencing symptoms of varicose veins, you can discuss interventional radiologist options with your chosen doctor, or use the Doctor Finder on this website, to find a local Interventional Radiologist near you, who can provide more information.

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