Venesection therapy

A treatment for haemochromatosis and other conditions associated with too much iron or too many red blood cells


Haemochromatosis is an inherited condition in which the iron levels in your body build up over time. It can cause fatigue, and may even damage your joints, liver, pancreas or heart. A venesection can help lower iron levels, or treat polycythaemia vera (too many red blood cells).

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    During a venesection, your nurse will remove a quantity of blood which will lower your iron levels and red cell count. It's similar to the procedure for donating blood and will be carried out as an outpatient appointment. First, your nurse will check your blood pressure and clean an area on your arm, before inserting a needle into a vein. They'll remove approximately half a litre of blood. It's not uncommon to feel lightheaded or faint, which is nothing to worry about. The procedure should take around 30 minutes, and your entire appointment will usually take around an hour.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Before you have a venesection, your consultant or specialist nurse will explain the procedure to you. They'll probably recommend eating as normal beforehand, as this will help minimise any feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness during or after the venesection. It's also important to drink between 2-3 litres of water at least 24 hours before.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    You'll be offered something to drink after your venesection, and your blood pressure will be checked again. If you feel lightheaded you can lie down to recover. It's sensible to avoid driving immediately after a venesection, and we would advise you to rest for the remainder of the day. Follow up venesections will be needed until your iron (ferritin) or red cell count is within normal range. Initially, you may need to repeat the procedure once every two weeks. Over time, this could reduce to every 6 to 12 weeks. Regular bloods test (full blood count and iron/ferritin) will be done as per your consultant's recommendation to monitor your levels.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Request an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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