It’s an unsightly problem, and if left untreated over time varicose veins can lead to health problems such as venous reflux disease.
It’s a lot more common, than you may think. Twenty-five million Americans suffer from this condition. While many people may shy away from treatment, thinking it’s painful, but that’s not the case with today’s technology.
“One of my friends noticed it and I noticed I had some peripheral swelling,” said patient Paul Rohner.
Retired dentist Paul Rohner first noticed he had a problem with varicose veins 15 years ago. At the time, Paul’s doctor prescribed him a medication that reduced the swelling and helped get his leg back to normal.
“But over the years it got worse,” said Rohner.
“It does often progress. Sometimes it does initially start out as an unsightly vein. It is cosmetic, but as the person ages it will continue to get worse,” said Robert C Candipan, M.D., PhD, FACC, FSCAI a Cardiologist at Phoenix Heart Center.
Candipan says, varicose veins are very common in people both young and old and those who are on their feet a lot, like nurses and teachers.
Besides not being pretty, varicose veins can be a sign of possible health issues to come.
“If untreated for a long period of time it can lead to problems with edema, swelling of the legs. So very big legs and difficulty to get shoes on and when there is a lot of fluid or edema in the legs it can lead to chronic infections,” said Candipan.
One of the bigger problems is ulcers that don’t heal.
Something, that eventually pushed Paul to get the VNUS Closure procedure. It is a minimally invasive alternative to the traditional vein stripping surgery.
“I was having problems with my leg where the fluid from the swelling was easing out through the tissue and it was creating an ulceration. Being diabetic is was important to get that vein closed,” said Rohner.
The procedure involved using a catheter that was inserted into Paul’s vein.
“This catheter is used to deliver a heat element will cause the vein to shrink and when the vein shrinks it collapses on itself. The vein no longer carries with it blood and the body will just reroute the blood through the healthy veins,” said Candipan.
“Once the vein was closed. The seeping quit and the ulceration went away,” said Rohner.
Before the procedure can be done, Candipan runs through the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and risk factors. He also does an ultra-sound to make sure the patient has venous disease.
“Just because you have varicose veins, you don’t always have the process that sets it up. It can be another type of process that causes the varicose veins. We look for the presence that’s called reflux in the veins,” said Candipan.
In other words, blood normally flows towards the heart, but if there is a leak, like with this condition, the blood flows down to the feet.
Now 18-months after the procedure, Paul is pleased with the results.
“Since then I’ve been able to walk better. My shoes fit better and I feel better overall,” said Rohner.
If you’re diagnosed with venous disease the VNUS Closure treatment is not the first step.
“We would then talk about some conservative things, like compression stalkings which are very tight-fitting socks. Elevation of the leg, keeping the leg up above the heart level, restriction of sodium in the diet,” said Candipan
Typically, the procedure takes about an hour in the office and afterwards patients can continue most of their normal activities. If this procedure is done for a medical condition, Candipan says, and then it is usually covered by insurance.