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Breaking Free From Painful Varicose Veins

Breaking Free From Painful Varicose Veins

Kathy Alexander, an aerobics instructor in Olathe, spends her days helping others get more active and encouraging them to get on their feet to exercise. But until recently, she couldn't wait to get off her feet after long days teaching classes.

"My feet and legs would just ache when I got home at night," Kathy said. "I'd head straight to the couch to put my legs up and ice my feet."

Kathy had always had bumpy, dark, noticeable veins on her legs, called varicose veins. Though not always visible like Kathy's were, varicose veins typically are enlarged veins raised above the surface of the skin. They are most noticeable when standing, and may appear blue or purple with a bulging, rope-like appearance.

A friend invited Kathy to join her at a free vein care seminar and screening at Olathe Medical Center (OMC). That night, Dr. Kevin Gould from the Vein Care Center recommended Kathy schedule an appointment to review options to treat her varicose veins.

"The pain Kathy was experiencing in her legs and feet was caused by veins that were congested with blood," Dr. Gould said. "Essentially the one-way valves in some of the veins of her legs were failing to keep blood flowing up toward her heart, causing blood to flow backwards, building up pressure and enlarging the veins. Besides the way they look, varicose veins can cause other problems, ranging from pain, fatigue and swelling to more serious skin and tissue problems."

Dr. Gould recommended radio frequency ablation to treat Kathy's painful varicose veins. The outpatient procedure involves inserting a small catheter into the damaged vein, which uses radiofrequency energy to ablate it. The energy destroys the vein, which is then eventually absorbed by the body. Once the vein is ablated, blood flow automatically reroutes through healthier adjacent veins. The procedure is safe and effective, involving less pain and shorter recovery time than other vein treatments.

Kathy had ablation on one leg at OMC in October 2015.

"The day after my ablation, I was back at work, teaching aerobics," Kathy said. "It felt so amazing. After 15 years of pain, it felt like my left leg could do a happy dance."

In comparison, Kathy said her other leg-the one that hadn't been treated yet-felt 20 pounds heavier. Dr. Gould performed ablation on it a few weeks later. Kathy's discomfort was mostly gone, even after the busiest days on her feet. Although Kathy was thrilled with the improvement, she still wanted to address the way her legs looked and the mildly persistent varicose veins that were still giving her discomfort. Dr. Gould recommended a second procedure called ambulatory phlebectomy, another outpatient procedure that is used to remove varicose veins from the legs through a series of small incisions.

"The phlebectomy incisions are so small that they don't require stitches," Dr. Gould said. "We use a special adhesive instead that closes and protects the incisions as they heal after surgery."

Kathy had a phlebectomy on both legs in March of this year, and felt well enough to teach her classes the next day.

"It was such an easy procedure, I didn't have any problems," Kathy said. "Just two weeks after surgery, I could see a big difference. Not only do my legs feel better, now they look how they feel!"

To make an appointment at the Vein Care Center, call 913-768-3104.