Seeking treatment for varicose veins isn’t all about vanity. Most often, people are looking for relief from the pain, swelling, burning and other symptoms associated with those gnarled, unsightly veins in the legs.
In the past, you had to suffer to be beautiful—and to get relief—because the treatment for varicose veins was “stripping” the affected veins from the body, from ankle to groin. The invasive procedure required general anesthesia, hospitalization and extensive healing time, and often led to recurrence. Now laser technology offers a better way to treat varicose veins. It’s fast, virtually pain-free, and available at the First State Vein and Laser Center in Newark.
Dr. Nadiv Shapira, a cardiac and thoracic surgeon at Christiana Care Health System for more than 20 years, opened the center earlier this year to provide minimally invasive treatments for venous disease. An estimated 55 percent of women and 45 percent of men suffer from some type of vein problem and half of people over age 50 have varicose veins.
“For many years this very common problem was treated in an aggressive way,” says Shapira. “Now we can precisely identify and treat the problem without removing the entire vein.”
Using a thin laser or radiofrequency fiber inserted through a catheter in the vein, heat is applied to only the abnormal segment of the vein to seal it off, leaving the healthy segment intact.
“The procedure is much safer, it’s done in about an hour on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia, and the success rate is exceeding 95 percent,” says Shapira. Patients typically return to work in two to three days.
Shapira is a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and a fellow in the American College of Surgeons, the Society for Thoracic Surgery, and the American College of Phlebology. —Susan Oates