FOX 29 Examines Varicose Veins

FOX 29 Examines Varicose Veins

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PHILADELPHIA -

It was about ten years ago, Jennie Lavan was in her early twenties and thought she was way too young for varicose veins. However, she started to notice them in her legs. By the time she had her first two children, they kept getting worse.

Barely 30, this nurse and mother of four could bear it no more.

"My legs were sore and heavy, real tired and fatigued. Maybe five, six hours into my work they were just like throbbing," she said. "Everyone was like 'oh, you're too young,' then I would show them and they'd be like, 'oh wow!'"

Vascular surgeon Dr. Charles Dietzek is not surprised with Jennie's situation at her age.

"We've had people come in as early as 14 and 15 years old," he said.

The condition is still widely considered cosmetic, he admits, and treatment is mostly not covered in the early stages.

"They're not going to get better; It's not going to resolve itself," said Dr. Dietzek.

"I thought I could always take care of it later," said Lavan.

So did Judy Carr who was misdiagnosed and mistreated for decades. "They never told me that the vein was causing the ulcers," she explained.

Judy's bulging veins appeared 40 years ago while she was in her 20's. She's been suffering with recurring gaping holes in her ankle for more than a dozen years.

"It takes about a month for them to heal," she said. "They just put a Band-Aid on the ulcer and put a uniboot on me to make the blood flow up my leg."

"That's, that's a big problem," said Dr. Dietzek, who also said that the fix is relatively easy.

"I put in this medicine to compress it and numb up the vein," he described. "I'm going to turn the catheter on," he continued, as he heats up the device to about 250 degrees. "That white line is the catheter inside the vein, and [I close] off the vein."

"The simple way of thinking about it is cauterizing the vein from the inside out," he explained.

The process took only about an hour in the doctor's office. "We were able to shut off these two leaking veins that is the major cause of her having this buildup of pressure in her lower leg." he explained.

Both ladies are wearing compassion stockings while they heal. Weeks later, they were feeling much better.  However, the doctor says that damage to Judy's ankle from years and years of mistreatment may be permanent.

"It's definitely possible she'll get another ulcer in the future," he said.

To lessen her chances, he injected a foam that shut down other damaged veins deep down that still fueled those sores.

"A billion dollars in healthcare dollars are being spent every single year in treating patients with ulcers," said Dr. Dietzek. "So we want to avoid that."

"Doctors around the country are comparing very similar cases to show why earlier intervention with varicose veins may save a lot of pain and money.                    

A ten year goal has been set to cut in half the number of patients who are suffering like Judy by treating them when they are Jennie's age.

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