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New Treatment for Varicose Veins Print E-mail
Written by Jessica Smith   
Friday, 28 August 2009

Experts estimate 50 percent of Americans over age 50 have varicose veins.

For women -- and men -- they can be embarrassing, ugly, and even so painful it's hard to walk.

Now, there's a new treatment option that uses foam to wash away problem veins.

Bulging and painful, Carol Albin used to suffer from painful varicose veins in her legs.

"There was an area that was really big and red, and I called it an explosion," Albin told 24Medica.

Fixing painful varicose veins used to mean invasive surgery called vein stripping, or laser treatments. A less invasive option uses detergent -- or foam -- to destroy the veins. Doctors inject the carbon dioxide foam deep into the diseased vein and track it through ultrasound. The foam pushes blood out of the way, eventually closing up the vein.

"It is a chemical, toxic agent to the wall of the vein, so basically what you're doing is you're irritating the inner lining of the vein," Rajagopalan Ravi, M.D., a vascular surgeon at the Arizona Heart Institute in Phoenix, Ariz., told 24Medica.

Doctors say using foam means better long-term results, especially for patients who have already had vein procedures.

"It is actually more effective, because you might need less treatment and a smaller quantity of the medicine, and thereby fewer complications," Dr. Ravi said.

Soon after her procedure, Albin was walking comfortably.

"After the surgery, I stayed off the treadmill for just a couple of weeks, and then I went back to it," she said. "The surgery made a big difference because it made the pain go away."

Now, Albin is stepping out with confidence.

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and generally takes 15 to 20 minutes. Patients with asthma or migraines carry a higher risk of complications. It's covered by most medical insurance carriers if it's performed for medical reasons -- not cosmetic. Bookmark and Share

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