Minimally invasive procedure to treat varicose veins results in less swelling, bruising and minimal pain

The return of warm summer months can be a dreadful time for women who are embarrassed to wear shorts or short skirts due to unsightly, twisted and swollen varicose veins.

Varicose vein sufferers can now proudly show off their legs thanks to a minimally invasive procedure at Rush University Medical Center that removes varicose veins with little to no pain, bruising, or swelling. See doctors perform the VNUS Closure® procedure in a live webcast Wednesday, June 15 at 4pm on

Varicose veins will not disappear on their own. They are a symptom of diseased and damaged valves that allow blood to flow backward in the saphenous vein and pool in the legs. In addition to the unattractive skin discoloration and bulging, the swollen veins can cause pain, severe fatigue and leg cramps. Since the valves can't be repaired, the only alternative is to eliminate the diseased vein and re-route the blood flow through deeper healthy veins.

The older technique for treating varicose veins involved manually pulling out the saphenous vein. Patients suffered a lengthy and painful recovery period. The newer VNUS Closure® procedure deliver radiofrequency energy to the vein wall, causing it to collapse and seal shut. Patients see results right away and the recovery is much shorter.

"Those with traditional vein stripping would be on bed rest for one to two weeks with heavy bandages to prevent swelling, pain and bruising. With the Closure procedure patients go home the same day and are typically back at work in a few days," said Dr. Chad Jacobs, vascular surgeon at Rush.

The procedure is performed without an incision. Using ultrasound guidance, vascular surgeons insert a thin wire into the saphenous vein. A radiofrequency probe is advanced along the wire. As the probe comes into contact with the vein wall, it creates heat causing the vein to shrivel. As the device is withdrawn, it ablates the swollen vein, completely destroying it.

"Patients have reported feeling little, if any, pain during the procedure and there is basically no recovery period. Most patients resume normal activity very rapidly," said Dr. Walter McCarthy, section chief of vascular surgery at Rush. "Patients who had suffered painful symptoms of varicose veins report noticeable improvement in 1-2 weeks following the procedure.

While the procedure is not covered by insurance for cosmetic reasons, most insurance companies will cover the cost of the procedure if it is medically necessary due to pain and discomfort.

An estimated 10-20% of adult Americans have varicose veins. While the cause of varicose veins is not known, a number of contributing risk factors have been identified including hereditary, female gender, age, obesity, pregnancy (especially multiple pregnancies), and occupations that require prolonged periods of standing or sitting.

Under the leadership of Chairman Dr. Robert Higgins, the department of cardiovascular-thoracic surgery at Rush University Medical Center is committed to excellence in three vital missions: patient care, teaching and research. Rush cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons are on the leading edge of diagnosis, treatment and discovery. Several surgeons in the program have been named among Chicago's, and the country's, best by Castle Connolly Ltd., a well-respected source of information on U.S. health care providers and institutions.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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