Your Health: Lunch break vein operation

MADISON, AL (WAFF) - 25 to 30 million Americans suffer from the pain, swelling and disfigurement of varicose veins. Patients now have an option of what some doctors call the "lunch break" operation.

"I was an avid walker. I walked like 5 miles a day. And in 2003 my legs started bothering, paining me", said Lavernice Garrett.

Eventually Garrett found out the problem was in her veins. In early January she had surgery on the right leg. She said since the surgery her leg is not hurting as bad. Garrett went back to the doctor to have surgery on her leg.

"You don't have to go to the hospital for this. Patients get up off the table and go back to work. It's a minimally invasive procedure, in that there is no large incision made. There's no major tissue injury," said Dr. Shelby Bailey, Shoals Vein Center.

Dr. Bailey uses an ultrasound to guide him through the procedure three times. It's needed to locate the vein at the beginning and guide him through the process during surgery and make sure there are no blood clots after surgery.

Medicine is delivered in the vein and works as a local anesthesia.

"The procedure involves placing a radio frequency or a microwave catheter inside the vein. You advance the catheter up to where the diseased vein originates. We deliver heat from the catheter. The vein is closed immediately and there is no more blood flow in that diseased vein", said Dr. Bailey.

Dr. Bailey said over the next few months the body will absorb the damaged vein. Insurance and Medicare does pay for the procedure and doctors say the whole procedure takes less than 45 minutes.

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