Technology Offers New Options

For years, varicose veins were seen as an unavoidable side effect of getting old.  Varicose veins have been a topic of conversation for thousands of years. The Egyptian and Greek artist have portrayed them in their art and even Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, addressed the condition in his medical writings.  Varicose veins are a common medical problem affecting over 30 million people in the United States.  In fact, half of people over 50 suffer from varicose veins.

Varicose veins are caused when the valves in the vessels cannot return the blood back to the heart, causing the blood to pool in the legs. This condition is called venous reflux.  The valves in the legs can become weakened due to obesity, pregnancy or standing for long periods of time.  The accumulation of blood in the legs causes the ankles and calves to swell painfully.  Varicose veins can become so severe that the sufferer may have trouble walking and over time can develop skin ulcerations.  Varicose veins are a progressive disease that only gets worse over time.

For mild cases of varicose veins, compression stockings can alleviate the symptoms. For more advanced cases, an ultrasound is recommended to determine whether the patient has venous reflux. For many years vein stripping has been used to treat varicose veins. This procedure is done under general anesthetic and involves removing the damaged vein. Unfortunately this procedure may leave scars and usually involves a long painful recovery. In addition, the procedure may not completely resolve the problem.

Thankfully there are new technologies that are available now that are less invasive than vein stripping. These new procedures are performed under local anesthetic and involve the usage of catheters. The procedure is so effective that it usually requires less than an hour to perform.

Instead of removing the diseased vein, these procedures seal the vein by using heat. The physician makes a small incision near the knee and then inserts a thermal catheter. The process involves delivering heat to the vein walls, which then causes the veins to collapse and seal. Once the vein has collapsed, the body uses functional veins to route the blood, therefore restoring normal circulation.  Interestingly enough, the diseased vein becomes reabsorbed by the body and disappears within months.

While these laser and radiofrequency (RF) catheters work well, there is new state of the art technology that uses a device called VNUS ClosureFast to seal the vein quickly and painlessly. In clinical studies this groundbreaking procedure has been found to be 99% effective. This new technology has been found to be less painful for the patient, cause minimal recovery time and little bruising. The VNUS procedure is so noninvasive that patients can actually do it during their lunch hour.

Many patients notice that the pain in their legs improves immediately. While the swollen veins may not disappear completely, they can easily be addressed with simple cosmetic procedures such as sclerotheraphy. Most importantly, because healthy circulation is restored, skin ulcerations heal rapidly.

For many seniors, the prospect of facing vein stripping was enough to deter them from addressing their varicose veins. Thanks to the Closure-Fast procedure, this group of people can look forward to a future of healthy legs. While this procedure seems extravagant, it is a medical procedure that is often covered by most health insurance plans and even Medicare. In addition, the TRICARE military health plan and the VA also cover the varicose vein procedure. This groundbreaking procedure offers millions of American people a better quality of life that isn't hindered by painful varicose veins.