New cutting edge treatment for varicose veins

January 29, 2010 4:56:14 AM PST
Millions of people, more women than men, have ugly, rope like twists that bulge from their legs But what can you do about varicose veins? Well gone is the nasty surgical procedure doctors used to do. There's a new procedure that 'melts' them from the inside out. "I had lumps coming out," said patient Wand Belt.

Doctors say it took about three minutes for the new varicose vein treatment to 'erase' Belt's veins.

The blue ropelike veins are gone and so is the pain.

"It really surprised me how easy it was," she said.

Cecilia Cruz wanted an end to the pain too.

"Because after having my second baby it got worse," said Cruz.

She wants to do the same thing Wanda Belt did, melting away her varicose veins.

This procedure is so simple they call it microwave on a stick or the lunch break procedure and for Celia it really is. Because she's going to leave here and go to work in a few minutes, standing on her feet all day at the grocery store.

Why is it called microwave on a stick? Because that's what they're doing is heating the vein from the inside to make it collapse.

"We burn up the vein in segments," said vascular surgeon, Dr. David Shin with the Houston Vein Specialists.

It's really called the venus closure procedure. For 15 seconds heat generated by a radio frequency machine is delivered through a catheter. It's guided to the varicose vein by ultrasound.

Patients are awake for the short treatment. Susan Bandini says the pain was minimal.

"I could feel the pressure so it was a little more painful but it wasn't bad," said Bandini.

Why do they start? Varicose veins are a genetic.

"If it aches, you should see a doctor," said Dr. Shin. "If you have veins that actually protrude from the skin, you should see a doctor."

But Dr. Shin says choose your doctor carefully.

"If not done correctly it could cause deep venus thrombosis, which is clots in the deep vein and those are dangerous because those clots can go up to the lung and cause pulmonary embolism which is a fatal problem," he said.

Meanwhile, Celia's veins looked great just one month later.

"She had a cluster of varicose veins here. You can see a little remnant of it but it's shrunk down," said Dr. Shin.

And patients are sold on the microwave on a stick.

"The pain it went away," said Celia.

"The pain's not there," said Wanda.

Because varicose veins are a medical condition, insurance covers it. If you have varicose veins, you can keep them from getting worse. Experts suggest losing weight, exercising, and elevating your legs when you can. And remember not to cross your legs when you're sitting.