Lifewatch: Varicose veins

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Varicose veins can lead to health problems if not treated.

They are caused by faulty valves and weakened walls within the veins.  When the valves fail to function properly, pressure builds up and the veins become enlarged and twisted.

For Myrtle Plybon, the varicose veins on her leg will soon be gone just in time for her favorite hobby.

"I do a lot of outdoor work," said Plybon.  "I am a garden person and so that is the main reason I am trying to have something done to help me."

A radio-frequency closure procedure closes the veins, causing a bulge that is expected to provide relief.

"They found a way to do the closure part of it quicker than the technology we were using three years ago," said surgeon Dr. Robert Ripley.

A new catheter is threaded through the vein and cuts the procedure time by a half hour.

"This is a lot more complicated than I thought it would be," said Plybon.

But Dr. Ripley says the procedure is worth it because varicose veins can lead to health problems if not treated.

"Well in kind of a minor form, there's symptoms like heaviness in the legs, that would typically come on as your arms and legs longer during the day, you can get swelling around the ankles," said Dr. Ripley.

The closure procedure takes 45 minutes, and Plybon said she'll be back to close the veins in her other leg if the results are as good as she expects.

Patients should notice a difference in the heaviness and aching feeling in the legs within about a week of the procedure, but it takes about 4-6 weeks to notice a change in appearance.

Health insurance will often cover this type of procedure.

For more information, click here.