Whether you're worried about the way your legs look, or the pain that you're going through, there's a new treatment for varicose veins.
Pain in Jack Miller’s (name changed to protect privacy) left leg led him to the doctor.
"The muscles have been real tight. I have to keep it elevated all the time, even at work," Miller said.
Just a few years ago, Miller would have had to have a major operation because of a problem with his valve system, and an ulcer on his ankle. His blood is not flowing correctly through his veins due to the faulty valves which allow the blood to flow downwards, which is the wrong direction. This is the condition known as venous reflux disease, and in many people it is the main cause of varicose veins. Today, however, Miller can have his condition treated as an outpatient, and be back to his normal activities the same day.
"Varicose veins are very common and under diagnosed, especially in the female population," says Dr. Meghal Antani, of the Southern Maryland Vascular Institute (SMVI).
Doctors used to rely on a traditional vein stripping procedure that didn't always work to cure the unsightly condition. Now, there's a new, less invasive procedure called Closure Fast and it takes only minutes.
"We insert a catheter inside the vein under ultrasound guidance," Dr. Antani said.
At the tip of the catheter is a coil of wire that emits radiofrequency energy to create heat. When heated, the vein closes up, stopping blood flow to the varicose veins.
"If we eliminate this bad valve system by the procedure we're doing today, it will re-route the blood to the good system, therefore allowing that ulcer to heal," Dr. Antani said.
There's little down time after this procedure, results are better than conservative measures such as wearing compression stockings, and the chance of varicose veins coming back is very low.
Closure Fast can be used to treat serious conditions that are a result of venous reflux disease, such as leg swelling and ulcers, and it can be used for cosmetic reasons as well.
Miller went through the procedure Friday morning, and his doctor expects him to be back at work Monday. "I'd like to be able to play golf on both legs, because basically when I go now, I have to play with the right leg and use the left for balance," Miller said.
Doctors said this procedure is usually covered by your health insurance providers.