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New Procedure Helps Eliminate Varicose Veins

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Lowell S. Kabnick, MD, FACS, attending vascular surgeon and the director of minimally invasive venous surgery at Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, N.J., has performed more than 100 closure procedures.

"Cosmetically, it's superlative to surgery because we are only leaving a puncture, as opposed to a couple of incisions," he tells WebMD. "There's less bruising, and recovery is much shorter than with the stripping procedure."

But the closure procedure cannot be performed on people whose veins are too big or too twisted, he says.

The procedure is still relatively new, Kabnick says. "We still need to follow this to make sure that veins stay closed and that the amount of new veins that develop are no more or less than with the stripping procedure," he says. "It will take some time to have that data."

The latest data on the closure procedure was presented by Mark J. Marzano, MD, an interventional radiologist at Vein Care Associates in Barrington, Ill., at a recent meeting of the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology. He found that 95% of 221 legs treated with this procedure were free of varicose veins after six months.

Possible side effects of the closure procedure include numbness, skin burns, and phlebitis, an inflammation of a vein.

Julie Bragg, a 31-year-old sales representative in Chicago, developed varicose veins at age 19. She finally decided to do something about them in February. After reviewing all the options, she decided on closure.

"It was wonderful. I couldn't feel a thing," she tells WebMD. "Recovery was really easy; that night, I played volleyball. I would absolutely recommend the procedure."

Bragg says that people who saw her legs before and after the procedure can't believe the difference.

Elizabeth McCoy, a 37-year-old emergency room nurse in Morristown, N.J., had a similar experience. McCoy developed varicose veins when she was pregnant about eight years ago. Since she is on her feet a lot at work, she often felt pain in her legs due to the varicose veins. She had the closure procedure in May 1999.

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