Bulging varicose veins are not the only symptom of venous insufficiency, and treating those leaky veins can relieve swelling, leg pain, fatigue, and even some excessive nighttime urination.
Marcia Weegar says her mom told her that she would have thick ankles for the rest of her life.
“She said I’d inherited them from my grandmother,” remembers the country club clubhouse manager. “Plus, I’m in the service industry and I’m on my feet ten to twelve hours a day. I assumed that was why my legs ached all the time. The fact is they’ve hurt me for so long, it just became part of my life. And the worst part is that, for years, I thought my shoes were causing my feet to hurt all the time, so I just kept buying pair after pair, looking for something that would work for me.”
Along with her aching legs and feet, Marcia confides that she had another concern: “I had a vein in my right leg that was just ugly.
“Several years ago, I had a treatment for it – a doctor injected it with a solution, but it never affected the vein. Then, about four years ago, after having recently relocated here from San Francisco, I read about Dr. Magnant.”
Joseph G. Magnant, MD, FACS, is a board-certified vascular surgeon who specializes in vein treatment. His practice, Vein Specialists at Royal Palm Square in Fort Myers, is 100% dedicated to the modern evaluation and treatment of leg vein disorders.
“The article said he was a vein specialist,” recalls Marcia, “so I thought, What have I got to lose?”
She scheduled an appointment.
Dr. Magnant says he told Marcia: “I know you have spider veins, but there is something else going on here that is causing your legs to look like piano legs.”
They both remember she burst into tears.
“Oh my gosh, I felt terrible,” admits the doctor. “I told her I hadn’t meant to offend her, but she told me they were tears of joy.”
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” confides Marcia, “because, at that moment, he changed my life. I’d thought there was nothing I could do about my legs, but he told me he suspected I had something else going on, something called venous insufficiency.”
The doctor explains about venous insufficiency: “Healthy leg veins usually have a series of valves that open in one direction, allowing for flow in a segmental fashion from the feet up toward the heart. When the valves no longer close tightly, venous blood refluxes back down toward the feet, resulting in increased pressure in the leg veins, which can lead to many symptoms including leg swelling and aching, skin discoloration, leg ulcerations, and excessive nighttime urination.
“Venous insufficiency in the superficial veins, which are those close to the surface of the body, is typically caused by heredity, and so what Marcia inherited from her grandmother was not the physical characteristic of thick ankles, but instead it was venous disease.”
Treating venous insufficiency
“We rely heavily on ultrasound evaluation of our patients’ veins,” explains Dr. Magnant.
A diagnostic ultrasound is a very accurate, conservative, and noninvasive diagnostic tool that is the gold standard in making the diagnosis of venous insufficiency.
“With ultrasound, which is usually covered by patients’ health insurance, we can determine the exact source of the problem,” assures the doctor. “We can see exactly which veins are leaking, and then design a game plan to solve the problem.”
Marcia’s ultrasound confirmed that she had vein insufficiency in both legs.
Historically, the only treatment available to offer patients with venous insufficiency was surgical vein excisions, or vein stripping, which often required hospitalization and general anesthesia along with an extended recovery period.
“Because the surgery was so invasive, unless the patient had bleeding veins or ulcers, patient management usually meant compression stockings,” remembers Dr. Magnant.
“Fortunately, leaky superficial veins can be treated today with a choice of minimally invasive, in-office procedures. In 1999, the first FDA-approved system was the radiofrequency-based closure system designed by VNUS Medical Technologies. We offer the Venefit™ procedure [formerly called the VNUS Closure procedure].”
Inserting a small caliber, sophisticated catheter into the vein through a small needle prick, RF energy is transmitted through the device, heating the vein in segments to seal the vein walls with little discomfort to the patient, informs Dr. Magnant: “Once the ablation takes place, which, on average, takes approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, the catheter is removed.”
Subsequently, the body re-routes blood through healthier leg veins, restoring normal circulation.
Dr. Magnant also offers the Cooltouch Laser for endovenous laser treatment, or EVLT, because each system has its place in the treatment of patients with venous disease, and both systems allow him to treat patients in the office without anesthesia risks.
Patients can return to normal activities almost immediately.
For Marcia, Dr. Magnant performed radiofrequency ablation to treat her leaky veins, and then a treatment called sclerotherapy to treat the cosmetic issue of her spider veins.
“Everyone in their office is just kind and considerate, and the procedures felt like a tiny pinprick,” describes Marcia. “That was it. There was no pain involved at all.
“I now have no problems whatsoever with my legs. They’re perfect.
“With my feet no longer swollen, I took seventy-two pairs of shoes that no longer fit to the Goodwill, and now buying new shoes is a joy. I can wear high heels for the first time in twenty years.
“I can’t say enough about what Dr. Magnant has done for me. He’s an amazing man; my life’s never been the same.”