Individuals wishing to treat varicose veins for cosmetic or medical reasons now have a faster, less painful option for treatment.
The minimally-invasive procedure for varicose veins, known as venous ablation, is now available at McLaren–Central Michigan’s Heart & Vascular Center in Mt. Pleasant. The treatment uses radiofrequency energy to eliminate varicose veins, and unlike older techniques, most patients are up and walking immediately after the procedure, returning to normal activity the next day.
Half of all Americans over 50, and two-thirds of women over 60, suffer from enlarged veins in the legs, and the problem is far more than cosmetic. The pain, swelling and leg fatigue caused by varicose veins can discourage an active lifestyle, and severe varicose veins can cause chronic infections and skin ulcerations.
Varicose veins generally occur when the valves in the primary leg vein fail. The purpose of the valves is to push blood back up toward the heart, but when they can no longer do the job, blood pools in the veins, causing both cosmetic and medical complications. Women with more than two children and individuals who work on their feet, such as nurses and teachers, are particularly at risk. Heredity and obesity are also factors.
Prior to venous ablation, the only surgical treatment available was known as vein stripping, a painful procedure that required a general anesthetic and weeks of recovery. Most patients avoided the operation if they could, choosing to continue to live with unattractive, sometimes painful varicose veins.
The breakthrough in varicose vein treatment came with catheter technology, the same kind that is used for heart interventions. Under a local anesthetic, a surgeon threads a catheter, about the thickness of a spaghetti noodle, into the vein to heat it from within and seal it off, rather than removing it.
The surgeon pulls the catheter through the vein, using radiofrequency (RF) to heat the vein walls, causing them to collapse inward. The lower temperature of RF energy is more comfortable for patients compared with other higher temperature methods.
Once the vein is sealed, the body automatically re-routes blood flow through healthier vessels and normal circulation is restored. The symptoms of pain and fatigue that usually accompany varicose veins disappear almost instantly, and the swollen veins begin to deflate in a week or two, restoring legs to their original healthy appearance.
Venous ablation is quick and minimally invasive. The only discomfort patients feel is a couple needle sticks, and the procedure is so simple that it can be performed in under an hour right at McLaren–Central Michigan’s Heart & Vascular Center. Patients are encouraged to get up and walk immediately after the procedure, and most return to normal activity the next day.
Don’t hide your legs another summer. Consider venous ablation for the treatment of varicose veins.
Kenneth Granke, MD, FACS, RVS, RPhS and Amitava Ghosh, MD, FACS both perform venous ablation in the Heart & Vascular Center at McLaren–Central Michigan. To learn more about venous ablation or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, call the McLaren–Central Michigan physician referral line at (989) 772-6773 for a referral today.