Varicose vein procedure faster than ever

LOS ANGELES MacKenzie Meer's couldn't see tiny lumps on her left leg from her ultrasound, but the 31-year-old could feel them.

Her faulty valves are preventing blood from circulating. The result: painful varicose veins.

"My leg felt was very heavy and very painful. I had a lot of fatigue," said MacKenzie.

To treat this, usually one or more incisions are made over the damaged vein, it's tied off and removed. MacKenzie opted for something less invasive called the VNUS closure procedure.

"Everything is done through a very small needle hole rather than any type of surgical incision," said Dr. Amir Kaviani, vascular surgeon.

In a 15 minute procedure, Dr. Kaviani destroys the malfunctioning vein from the inside out using heat from a catheter.

Doctors say think of the vein system as a traffic map. When one freeway is faulty and the bloods not traveling efficiently the answer here is to shut it down.

"Many of the smaller tributaries will take over the load of the saphenous vein," said Dr. Kaviani.

Removing varicose veins close to the skin's surface may cause problems if the deep leg veins are also damaged.

A new Archives of Dermatology study says people with superficial varicose veins are more likely to have clotting in their deep veins -- a potentially life threatening condition.

Dr. Kaviani says the new study is too small to prove this a concern for most people with varicose veins, but all patients should have their deep veins checked.

"There is a very low risk, nevertheless always check that before and after the procedure," said Dr. Kaviani.

MacKenzie had the VNUS procedure on her right leg last week and was back on her feet the same day. She says it feels like a load has been lifted off her leg.

"It's completely different now. I don't have the fatigue and it's not heavy," said MacKenzie.

In MacKenzie's case, her varicose veins didn't bulge or look unsightly, but the VNUS procedure also remedies that problem in the process.

Since varicose veins are almost always considered a medical condition, the procedure is generally covered by insurance. The VNUS procedure isn't suitable for spider veins, those are treated less invasively.

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