Topeka (WIBW) - Judy Bowman started developing varicose veins when she was 24-years old. In recent years, they'd gotten worse.
Judy says they looked like snakes curving around and down her legs. Worse than how they looked, though, was how she felt. Judy says her legs ached constantly and many time she wanted only to sit home with her feet up.
As many as 40 million Americans may have varicose veins. Dr. Jack Jones, an interventional cardiologist with Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center, says the veins get weak and reflux, meaning the blood can't get out of the vein. The situation leads to enlargement of the veins and it causes pain and swelling.
Stopping the pain used to mean surgery to remove the affected veins. But Jones says most people can now be helped with what's called VNUS Closure Fast Ablation..
In the procedure, a small, radiofrequency catheter is placed inside the affected veins. Heat applied through the cathete causes the vein to collapse and scar down. By doing that, Jones says the blood goes from the weak veins near the skin to the deep veins, allowing it to get out of the leg.
Jones says treatment not only relieves pain, but also heads off potential problems. Jones says, left untreated, the condition will progress and lead to more significant veins and pain, bleeding, skin lesions and ulcers.
Weeks after her procedure, Judy's proud of how her leg looks and feels. She says she noticed a difference in just a few days.
The procedure is typically done in less than two hours and patients can drive themselves home. There are follow-up visits to ensure the veins are responding properly and patients will wear a compression stocking for a couple days after the procedure.
It cannot be done on people who have clotting problems.