Contrary to popular misconception, varicose veins are not simply cosmetic. As a result of this widely held myth, the majority of the 30 million Americans affected by varicose veins do not seek treatment. When left untreated, diseased veins can result in worsened symptoms such as pain, swelling and fatigue of the legs. In more severe cases, varicose veins can even cause skin changes and ulcers
Once perceived as only a cosmetic issue, varicose veins are now recognized as a serious medical condition. In fact, varicose veins are so prominent that half of all Americans over 50, and two-thirds of women over 60, suffer from those big ropey leg veins. If neglected, these unsightly veins can develop into a serious form of vein (venous) disease called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which can present more serious signs and symptoms such as pain, ankle swelling, fatigue of the legs, skin damage and ulcers.
Fortunately, as vein disease awareness grows, so do vein treatment options. This leaves the modern vein patient with more options including vein ablation/closure by means of radiofrequency technology or laser technology as opposed to more painful and outdated procedures such as stripping surgery. Among the different approaches, radiofrequency vein ablation is probably the least invasive technique available.
Unlike more invasive forms of varicose vein treatment, the VNUS Radiofrequency procedure provides a better patient experience with less pain and bruising and a faster recovery time. In fact, most patients report feeling little, if any, pain during and after the procedure.
RF Vein Ablation using the VNUS Procedure
Under a local anesthetic, we thread 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. We then pull the device through the vein, using radiofrequency (RF) energy to heat the vein walls and cause them to collapse inward on themselves. Once the vein is sealed, the body automatically re-routes blood flow through healthier vessels and normal circulation is restored. The varicosity symptoms quickly dissipate, and the sealed vein is eventually absorbed by the body.
The speed and comfort of this technique are amazing to my patients. The device I use is called VNUS® ClosureFAST™, and it uses radiofrequency energy to seal a typical 45-centimeter length of vein (about 14 inches) in three to five minutes. The only discomfort the patient feels is a couple of needle sticks, and the procedure is so simple that I can perform it in my office under local anesthesia. The patient is typically in and out within an hour. We encourage patients to get up and walk immediately after the procedure, and most return to normal activity the very next day. The pain and fatigue subside quickly, and the swollen veins begin to deflate in a week or two.
In order to be a candidate for this radiofrequency procedure, patients must be diagnosed with venous reflux disease.
Unlike veins in healthy legs that contain valves which open and close properly to assist blood back to the heart, venous reflux occurs when these valves become damaged and cannot close properly. Sypmtoms of vein disease include varicose veins, pain, swollen limbs, ulcers, leg heaviness and fatigue and skin changes.
Factors that contribute to venous reflux disease include age, obesity, multiple pregnancies, gender, heavy lifting, family history and standing profession. To determine if venous reflux is present, an ultrasound scan is required. Most insurance providers and Medicare will cover this varicose vein treatment if the patient has been diagnosed with venous reflux.
This procedure is considered a medical necessity, rather than cosmetic surgery, so it is covered by Medicare and most insurers. That clears away the one final barrier to longtime varicose vein sufferers seeking treatment, and as a result we are seeing lots of new patients these days. More men than ever before are requesting the procedure – having one’s varicose veins treated is no longer considered unmanly. And we have gotten a rush of interest in the technology from active seniors in their 70s and 80s – their middle-aged children are undergoing the procedure, and when the parents see the results, they want the treatment themselves. I have had patients tell me they are wearing shorts for the first time in 40 years.
Call 423-648-4012 to request a FREE vein screening!