banner
Health Team

New Procedure Removes Varicose Veins Without Surgery

Posted December 10, 2007 5:15 p.m. EST
Updated December 10, 2007 10:25 p.m. EST

— Many people don't like to expose their legs because of varicose veins. They are not only unsightly, but can be painful. Surgery used to be the answer, but a newer option is less invasive.

Ben Britt, 29, said he thought he was too young to have varicose veins.

“You just get in bed at night and you just have this dull throbbing [pain],” Britt said.

“People that have varicose veins, they do so because their valves are leaky and blood is being diverted from the deep veins to the superficial veins,” Dr. Victor Medina said.

Valves in the veins keep blood flowing efficiently to the heart. When the veins don't work, the blood pools near the skin, and it becomes discolored and swollen.

Surgery, called vein stripping, can remove the diseased vein. When Britt discovered he could fix the problem without surgery, however, he went to Medina's Triangle Vein Clinic.

Britt said he was “actually pretty excited that something could be done about it.”

Medina uses ultrasound to find the vein, and then injects anesthetic above it, at the skin surface.

The catheter has a heating element, and beginning near the junction of the main femoral artery, a series of burns collapses and seals the vein.

The procedure is called Radio Frequency Ablation with a Closure Fast System. An older form of it took 20 minutes, but the procedure now can be done in three minutes.

“Once you're numbed up, it goes very fast,” Britt said.

The superficial veins Medina closes aren't necessary.

“And in fact, treating superficial veins allows the deep veins to be more efficient,” Medina said.

Britt has already noticed a difference.

“My one leg that has been treated some, versus my other leg, is less achy at night for sure,” he said.

After the catheter procedure, simple saline injections help erase the discoloration left in small veins at the skin surface.