New Treatment for Varicose Veins
Written by Jessica Smith
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.