Walk this way
Grand View Hospital offers relief to varicose vein sufferers
by Karen Appold

With warmer weather on the horizon, store windows are starting to parade their shorts, skirts, dresses, and even the dreaded bathing suit. And women are turning their attention to a body part they’ve been hiding all winter—their legs. If you’re one of millions of women concerned about varicose veins dictating your wardrobe decisions, there’s an option available for you at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville.

The good news is that varicose vein sufferers don’t have to live with the potentially health-threatening condition. Typically, a physician would first suggest trying conservative treatments, such as leg elevation and compression stockings. But for those who require the next step of treatment, Edwin Martin, MD, an interventional radiologist at Grand View, can do a minimally invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation that will reduce the appearance of the veins, help prevent any serious complications from the disease and will have you back on your feet in just one to two days.

“This is an exciting time for interventional radiologists to be involved in imaging and treatment of vascular disease,” Dr. Martin says. “We are happy to be able to offer more effective non-surgical options than ever before.”

Varicose veins, also known as venous reflux disease, occurs when valves in veins become damaged or diseased. This results in vein failure, reflux or backward blood flow in the veins and pooling of blood. According to Dr. Martin, as a varicose vein condition worsens, a downward spiral of problems can occur. Legs will swell and veins will dilate. As dilation increases, more blood refluxes in the wrong direction, which leads to more swelling. Eventually this can lead to skin breakdown and in rare cases, hemorrhaging.

Dr. Martin explains that if blood sits in dilated varicose veins, that means there’s less blood in the normal circulatory system. This can lead to fatigue and contribute to a feeling of leg heaviness. As veins dilate, they may become uncomfortable, especially after a day of standing.

The procedure most often recommended, radiofrequency ablation, eliminates the source of reflux so veins are less distended. It’s considered a minimally invasive procedure and uses local anesthesia or sedation through an IV.

During the procedure, a physician closes the diseased veins by inserting a small tube, called a catheter, into a vein and heating the vein wall. This causes collagen in the wall to shrink and the vein to close. After the problem vein is sealed shut, blood then naturally reroutes to healthy veins.

Dr. Martin adds that the goal is to try to identify the root cause of the problem. Usually there is an area of abnormal flow of blood, and the objective is to try to eliminate the source of leaking blood.

After the procedure, most patients have relief of symptoms and resume normal activities within one to two days. They can expect to experience a good cosmetic result with minimal to no scarring, bruising or swelling. Treatment of symptomatic varicose veins is covered by most insurance providers.

Although some younger patients present with significant varicose veins in their 30s and 40s, it becomes a more progressive problem with age. Risk factors include having several pregnancies, having a family history of the condition, working in a profession that requires a lot of standing, and aging.

On Friday, April 16, from 6-9:30 p.m., the Grand View Outpatient Center in Sellersville will hold a special event, “Taking Care of You: A Special Evening of Pampering & Wellness for Women.” As part of this seminar, Dr. Martin will offer the talk, “Varicose Veins–Goodbye Pain: Know Your Treatment Options.” The lecture will discuss the latest options to treat varicose veins, as well as ways to reduce pain, enhance circulation and improve the appearance of your legs.

Other lecture topics for the evening include staying healthy while balancing responsibilities, skin care, headaches, biological clock and sleep issues.

In addition to the health seminars, the event will feature a mini-spa session, hearty appetizers, sweets and more. Admission is just $20.

“The event is meant to be not only informative, but also fun. We encourage women to attend with their friends, sisters, mothers, daughters—whomever they would choose to spend a pleasurable evening,” says Mary DeHaven, Grand View’s director of marketing and public relations. “We know that busy women don’t have a lot of time to take care of themselves, let alone indulge in a little pampering, so we’re pleased to provide it.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Martin, call 215-453-4989. To find a doctor near you, call the Grand View Health Line at 215-453-4300 or visit www.gvh.org.

Karen Appold is a freelance writer in Royersford. www.WriteNowServices.com