Sep 14, 2012 1:45 PM by KSBY News, Carina Corral
Varicose veins affect 30 million Americans with pain, swelling and disfigurement.
Santa Maria Resident Carolyn Stilliens avoided many activities she loved, such as going to the play, because the varicose veins in her legs caused painful and paralyzing cramping and swelling."I love PCPA and I was so afraid of getting one during a performance. They hurt so bad you about want to yell," she said.
Most people avoid removing varicose veins because of the invasive surgery called vein stripping.
"They'd make an incision in the groin, send a catheter down the leg into the vein and they would literally pull the vein out," said Cardiologist Bruce Ourieff, who practices in Santa Maria. He now offers a new, innovative procedure that involves less recovery time and less pain.
It is called radiofrequency ablation catheter. In short, the doctor runs a catheter up the vein and seals it off using heat.
"That decompresses the leg, the blood then returns to the normal functioning deep system. The leg has two systems: a skin and a deep. It's the skin system that is the problem. The swelling goes down, ulcers heal, legs feel better," said Dr. Ourieff.
It has been dubbed the "lunch break catheter surgery" because it takes about that long to perform. Although, Dr. Ourieff doubts patients will actually go back to work the same day because of the medications they will be on.
"So you may not want to go back to work. I certainly would not have you drive to work," he said.
Still, it is a far less painful and is a much quicker procedure than vein stripping and patients are likely to be up on their feet a lot sooner.
Carolyn had the surgery performed on both legs and is now back to attending performances.
"I didn't even think about 'was I going to cramp or did I have to take some medicines?' before or anything. I just went," she said.
It is not a cosmetic surgery, so the veins will still be present, but because it is not cosmetic most insurances to do cover the procedure.