Varicose Veins …. A New Approach
By Dave Roberts
Varicose veins and spider veins are often mischaracterized as a cosmetic problem. Actually, they are a sign of an underlying disorder of the circulatory system called venous insufficiency. By age sixty, 70% of women will suffer from this condition. Left untreated, it can lead to a chronic, debilitating, and sometimes limb-threatening condition. Unfortunately this disease process is under-diagnosed and under-treated. Sadly, many patients opt for treatments that address only the superficial appearance of veins only to find that the veins reappear. Some superficial, skin deep treatments leave the veins worse than before treatment and cause the skin to appear blotchy or discolored. The underlying cause is never considered, diagnosed, or properly treated. Modern treatment of this age old problem can now be accomplished with an array of minimally invasive techniques in an outpatient setting.
Christine McLaughlin hid a painful secret for 15 years: underneath her long dresses, black stockings or heavy support hose, McLaughlin’s legs were covered in large, bulging varicose veins.
A new procedure can remove the bulging veins in 15 minutes.
And, more than unsightly, her problem recently became unhealthy as well.
"There was a real sensation of throbbing," McLaughlin, 45, told "Good Morning America." "They’d just hurt. It was a heaviness, a density about the lower limbs."
Dr. Mark Adelman of New York University said varicose veins can cause engorgement, swelling and fatigue as well, "the same sensation you would get if you put a blood pressure cuff on your arm."
The condition affects about 20 million
Aging can lead to varicose veins, typically in the legs, by causing the vessels to become less elastic, allowing them to stretch and pool blood. High blood pressure, such as the kind that comes with pregnancy, can also push the walls of the veins outward.
Initially wary of painful treatment, McLaughlin heard about the newest treatment for varicose veins called the VNUS ClosureFAST procedure.
No Recovery Time With New Treatment
The treatment involves threading a long electrode up the vein and then using radio frequency waves to heat the vein until it collapses and closes. The procedure is done without anesthesia and there is little to no pain or painful recovery. The treatment takes about 15 minutes.
"Typically, patients feel better right away, almost," Adelman said. "As they walk out, they feel lighter, that they no longer have that heavy pressure inside the veins."
The procedure is the cutting edge of a treatment that started nearly a decade ago when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the original closure catheter, Adelman said. But, back then, the treatment still required general anesthesia and a much longer session.
‘Walking in Gratitude
"The procedure itself has evolved," Adelman said. "Now, we’re not doing it in the hospital under general anesthesia. We’re doing them in small procedure rooms in the office, without any IVs, without keeping the patient without food beforehand, and you can see the procedure takes 15 to 20 minutes."
Closing blood vessels, at first blush, would seem to be dangerous but, Adelman said, these varicose veins are "superficial."
"The veins that are necessary for normal circulation are deep inside the muscles," he said.
After the procedure, McLaughlin could not believe the relief she felt.
"Oh, words can’t describe," she said. "I mean, what was really shocking to me was that there’s no recovery period. That, as soon as the doctor was finished, his wonderful assistant, his surgery assistant, Wendy, literally wrapped up my leg, gave me a series of instructions and told me, ‘You’re walking out of here.’"
Now, without fear of shorts and skirts and in great health, McLaughlin said she’s "walking in gratitude."
Tired, Painful, or Unsightly Legs…?
4 June 2009
By: Samuel M. Wilson, M.D., FACS
If you are among the estimated 20 to 40 million men or women who suffer from venous insufficiency, you may have venous reflux disease. You may feel that your legs are aching or uncomfortable and may note that they swell up, especially as the day goes on. Your legs may feel heavy. Other symptoms include painful varicose veins, seen as protruding veins of various sizes.
Over time this may lead to discoloration of the lower leg above the ankles or even open sores in the same area, known as venous leg ulcers.
Certain jobs or activities which require prolonged standing may make you more likely to have these problems. They are also seen in pregnancy. Other risk factors include a family history of varicose veins, overweight, and increasing age.
The diagnosis may be simply made with a short, non invasive (no needles) procedure using an ultrasound machine combined with a physical exam.
Many of the most basic cases can be treated with venous compression stocking and elevation. If this is not sufficient or more definitive treatment is required, a minimally invasive outpatient office procedure may be done, often with cure.
When indicated, one of the newest and most effective outpatient procedures, which is done in the office, is the VNUS Closure Procedure. A catheter is inserted in a superficial vein and the diseased vein is closed by radiofrequency (RF) energy. This causes blood to be returned by other normal veins.
The procedure takes about one half hour to one hour with only local anesthesia required. There is minimal discomfort. Normal activities are usually resumed in one day.
Samuel M. Wilson, M.D., FACS and his Board Certified partners, Thomas P. Barnett, M.D., FACS and Cristobal G. Alvarado, M.D., FACS of Surgical Associates at Eden Hill have been successfully performing the VNUS Closure Procedure since 2005.
If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of varicose veins and venous reflux disease, the physicians of Surgical Associates at Eden Hill are available for help. Call (302) 674-0600 for a consultation.
“I was surprised at how quick it took, and really pain free and that’s not an exaggeration it was pain free.”
~Kate S., Dover, DE
“I had torturous veins. Now they’re really flat… The appearance is much better.” ~Joan L., Viola, DE
“I tell anyone who has these not to put off treatment. Literally, the next day, it was like a miracle.”
~Jim W., Smyrna, DE
“I was shocked at how quickly I recovered. I was on the phone with my office as soon as I got home from the hospital. I’ve had more discomfort after a dental appointment than I had after this procedure.”
~John D., Elkton, MD
Dr. Samuel Wilson has been practicing general and vascular surgery since 1986 and has been in Dover since 1996. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1972 and earned his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine. He completed his surgical residency at Temple University Hospital followed by a two-year vascular fellowship at Presbyterian University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia. He was Chief of Surgery at Kent General Hospital from January 2005 through December 2007. A surgeon who is published in the general, vascular, and trauma literature, he is a member of the Delaware Valley Vascular Society, the Eastern Vascular Society, the Vascular Access Society of the Americas (VASA), the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the Medical Society of Delaware, and the Southeastern Surgical Congress. Dr. Wilson is Board Certified in Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is listed in the Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare and is a Delaware Today “Top Doc.