Bulging, Ugly Varicose Veins?

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Colleen Ann Faris

After Colleen Ann Faris earned her undergraduate degree in political science, she contemplated attending law school. However, her interests ultimately shifted away from law, and her future took a dramatic turn.

“In the early 1970s, I went back to school, got my master’s degree in special education and entered the public school system as a learning disabilities tutor,” Colleen shares. “Then, somebody mentioned that a private nursery school was closing. A friend of mine said, Think about it.

Colleen, now 73, gave it some thought and eventually opened two nursery schools in her hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts.

“We operated two to three mornings and two to three afternoons per week between the two schools and had a staff of about seven or eight,” Colleen describes. “Almost 200 children went through the two facilities over the course of a week.

“In the late 1990s, we sold one school and then the other. I went back into the public sector as a first-grade teacher and had a ball. I also did fundraising for the local hospital and the mayor’s office. In 2013, I took a position as an aide in the mayor’s office and retired from there in the beginning of 2019. We moved to Florida in the summer of 2019.”

Long before she relocated to the Sunshine State, Colleen had become distressed by the look of her legs. She was especially bothered by visible varicose veins, an issue she became aware of during a trip to Hawaii in the mid-1990s.

“My husband had some business in Honolulu, and I stayed on the beach while he worked,” Colleen remembers. “I looked at my legs and noticed that my veins were bulging. There was a man there who weighed probably 300 pounds and was wearing shorts. I thought, He doesn’t have a mark on his legs. I’ve got to do something about mine.

“My legs were swollen and heavy, and I had to elevate them. They were painful as well, and when my legs were sore they turned black and blue. My legs looked so bad that I began to wear leg makeup or black stockings to hide the veins when I went out. And if I was going out to a special event, I always made sure to hide my legs under black formalwear.”

“The procedures are so minimally invasive that you don’t even know anything’s being done.” – Colleen

While living in Massachusetts, Colleen sought help for the issue from a vascular surgeon. The physician recommended a surgical procedure called vein stripping to eliminate her varicose veins, but Colleen was uneasy about the surgery.

“It seemed so invasive and scary, and it required a lot of downtime,” she relates. “I said to the doctor, I can’t do it. I’m not comfortable with it. Everybody said it was safe to walk around with varicose veins, so I figured I’d just disguise them with tights and long pants.”

Wearing tights and long pants isn’t practical in the Florida heat, so Colleen mentioned the problem to her doctor at the Naples Women’s Center. That physician took one look at Colleen’s legs and referred her to Joseph Magnant, MD.

Roadmap of the Veins

A board-certified vascular surgeon at Vein Specialists in Fort Myers and Bonita Springs, Dr. Magnant is dedicated to the modern and comprehensive evaluation of leg vein disorders and uses the most advanced minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat them.

“Colleen presented with varicose veins, the most common sign of venous disease – or venous insufficiency,” Dr. Magnant recalls. “Everybody who has varicose veins has venous insufficiency. However, not everyone with venous insufficiency has varicose veins.”

With venous insufficiency, the one-way valves in leg veins that normally keep blood moving upward toward the heart become damaged, and blood refluxes backward in the vein and pools in the legs. This causes high venous pressure that, over time, causes fluid to leak out from the veins and leads to signs and symptoms, including varicose veins, swelling, heaviness and fatigue.

“The definitive test we offer patients who come to us with signs or symptoms of venous disease is an ultrasound,” Dr. Magnant informs. “Ultrasound is the key exam to determine which leg veins are compromised. It gives us a roadmap of the patients’ veins and shows us which veins are leaking. It gives us a guide for determining which procedures to perform on each leg with very predictable clinical results.

“Unlike the old days, when doctors would strip the problem veins and hope for the best, we are now in our 21st year of having a treatment called endovenous ablation at our disposal. Endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia that has excellent long-term outcomes.”

Endovenous ablation is much less invasive, significantly safer and yields far superior results than vein stripping, which is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia using large incisions.

During an endovenous ablation, a vascular surgeon accesses the compromised veins through tiny punctures in the skin. The leaking veins are then sealed using heat from a laser or radio-frequency energy, and the blood flow is rerouted to healthy veins.

“In sealing Colleen’s leaking veins, we used an endovenous ablation technique called ClosureFAST, which is a heating treatment that uses radio frequency energy,” Dr. Magnant reports. “I then performed a microphlebectomy, which is the removal of problem veins through a series of tiny incisions, to remove the unsightly varicose veins in her legs.

“The combination of ClosureFAST and microphlebectomy, which can be performed at the same time, reduced the pressure in Colleen’s leg veins and eliminated the varicose veins, swelling, heaviness, achiness and other symptoms of venous insufficiency.”

“It Was Truly Easy”

Colleen was quite pleased by the ease of Dr. Magnant’s treatment techniques. She also marveled at the atmosphere they allowed Dr. Magnant to create while he performed his duties.

“During the procedure there was ongoing conversation and there is music playing,” she describes. “The staff was very professional, but at the same time they made the extra effort to help me relax.

“The incisions made on my legs were so minimal for what was accomplished through them, and the procedures are so minimally invasive that you don’t even know anything’s being done. When they were cleaning up afterward, I said, Is that it? and they said, Yes. It was truly easy.”

Colleen is equally delighted with the outcome of the procedures and the physician who performed them.

“My legs started improving immediately and continued for two weeks after the procedures were performed, and they have been really coming along, especially my right leg,” Colleen enthuses. “Today, I have no pain and the swelling has really gone down. I recently went to a dinner party and wore real nylons. I just can’t say enough about how the procedures have helped me.

“Dr. Magnant is totally professional, but he’s also very humorous. He makes light of the procedures when you’re in there; it’s just something he does. Vein problems are all he treats and he knows all about them. I highly recommend Dr. Magnant and Vein Specialists to anybody and everybody.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of Vein Specialists. js
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    • Vein Specialists

      Vein Specialists is 100 percent dedicated to identifying and treating vein disorders. Led by Dr. Joseph G. Magnant, they understand that the venous system varies between patients and consists of both deep and superficial venous systems and a net... Read More

    • Joseph G. Magnant, MD, FACS, RPVI

      Joseph Magnant, MD, FACS, RPVI, is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and is certified in vascular surgery by the American Board of Surgery. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia. He completed a genera... Read More