Seal of Approval

New biomedical adhesive safely corrects leaking leg veins.

A trip to historic St. Augustine had been on Susan Carlson’s bucket list of places to visit for years. Her husband’s, too. When the couple finally got around to visiting this country’s oldest continuously occupied city, they simply couldn’t get enough of it.

“The city is so lovely, and the people were so welcoming that on the way out of town, we stopped at a development where they were building some new homes and walked through a model, just to have a look,” Susan explains.

“We did it just as a lark, really, but the next thing I know, we’re signing papers to have a house built. We still had a home back in Chicago, so we did the snowbird thing for a few years and finally declared our residency here in Florida about four years ago.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Susan’s comfort level and mobility have increased dramatically.

Florida has proved to be a perfect fit for Susan, an outdoorsy type who has since retired from her career as an English teacher. She especially loves going to the beach, being near the ocean and working in her garden.

It was while she was out working in her garden one day last June that Susan suffered a spider bite that, at first, she didn’t think much of. As time passed, however, and the wound from the bite refused to heal, she grew more concerned.

“After a couple of weeks, I went to see a physician who treats these sorts of things, and he diagnosed it as a bite from a brown recluse spider,” Susan recalls. “He also told me these things can take a long time to heal.

“I knew then that I was in for a good six months of healing, but when we got to January of this year and it still wasn’t looking right, the doctor said he thought something else was going on and recommended I see another doctor.”

Susan was referred to Thomas LeBeau, DPM, of St. Augustine Foot, Ankle & Vein. He is a board-certified podiatrist, but Dr. LeBeau considers himself “a primary care physician of the lower extremity.” His practice, meanwhile, focuses on the entire body.

“We’re looking for ways to help people with problems that go beyond their legs,” Dr. LeBeau confirms. “We consider ourselves to be a multi-specialty practice, and we’re adding more treatments as we go forward.

“As it is, we already have two physical therapists on our staff who treat the entire body and a nurse practitioner who focuses on neuropathy and pain and treats the full body. We also have our own MRI as well as other diagnostics right in house.”

Triggering Event

Dr. LeBeau’s desire to focus on the entire lower extremity paid dividends for Susan, who learned during her first visit to his practice that there was indeed an issue beyond the spider bite that was preventing her wound from healing.

“The spider bite was simply the event that got the ball rolling,” Dr. LeBeau reveals. “The real problem was an underlying vein issue. She had been ticking along just fine, but once this event occurred, her body could not heal because her venous system wasn’t working properly.

“Now anything could have sparked this. In her case, it was a spider bite. But it could have been a bump against the dishwasher door or any number of things because her system was just teetering on the edge of chaos and just needed something to trigger it.”

What Susan’s spider bite triggered was a severe bout with venous insufficiency. That’s the condition that develops when any of the one-way valves in the leg veins fail and the normal flow of blood back to the heart is impeded.

“The procedure is very quick and painless, and the effects have been significant.” – Susan

When this occurs, blood backs up and pools in the legs and ankles. That build-up of blood can lead to swelling, achiness, heaviness, nighttime cramping, restless legs, discoloration of the skin, spider veins and skin ulcers.

To repair the problem, physicians used to perform a painful treatment called vein stripping in which the damaged vein was surgically removed from the body. There are now far less invasive methods that treat venous insufficiency that are not only less painful but more effective.

One such treatment is called radiofrequency ablation (RFA). This treatment uses radio waves to heat and close the damaged vein. The other is the VenaSeal Closure System, which is similar to RFA except that it uses a biomedical adhesive to close the veins.

“Both procedures are minimally invasive and require the physician to pass a small catheter into the vein in the same way you put an IV into a vein,” Dr. LeBeau explains. “The difference is that with the VenaSeal system, the adhesive does the work in the vein.”

The specially formulated sterile cyanoacrylate adhesive used in the VenaSeal procedure was approved for use in humans by the FDA in 2015. The VenaSeal procedure itself is done comfortably and safely in the doctor’s office, so there’s no need to go to the surgery center or hospital.

Doctor Recommended, Patient Preferred

Dr LeBeau recommends the VenaSeal system for two very important reasons relating to patient comfort.

“With the RFA method, we have to numb the whole length of the vein,” Dr. LeBeau says. “With VenaSeal, we only have to numb the entry point. So you get poked once versus several times.

VenaSeal graphic FHCN file image.

The VenaSeal Closure System is the least-invasive treatment for venous insufficiency.

“Also, when it comes to recovery, the RFA method requires compression wraps for two weeks. With the VenaSeal, we put a BAND-AID® on the entry point and you are out the door. Because of these two reasons and the fact the recovery time is much quicker, eighty five percent of our patients choose the VenaSeal method for their procedures.

Susan agreed with Dr. LeBeau’s recommendation of the VenaSeal procedure and went on to have three veins treated, each a week apart during the month of February. The results of those treatments have been nothing short of amazing.

“The procedure is very quick and painless, and the effects have been significant,” she says. “After the first treatment, the mobility in my legs gradually improved to a point where now I’m doing things I haven’t done in years. The ulcer closed in a few short weeks after being open for over six months.

“I’m doing yoga poses I never thought I’d do, and when I get up quickly from sitting in a chair for a while, I don’t have to stand there and wait for the blood to start circulating through my legs again. It’s really amazing.

“And so is Dr. LeBeau. He wasn’t pushy in any way, he explained everything he was doing and the procedure ended up being a lifesaver for me. I recommend the VenaSeal procedure and Dr. LeBeau to anyone who has a leg problem like this. They’re both great.”

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