Over the last few years, Cathy Johnson began to notice small bumps on the veins in her legs. Aside from the soreness, she didn’t think much of them until they suddenly began rupturing. “I was washing dishes in the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see lines of blood on the walls and the ceiling,” the 59-year-old recalled. “Then I could hear the gushing coming from my leg, so I called the paramedics.”
Johnson endured nearly a decade of sporadic bursts and bouts of pain due to varicose veins, or veins near the skin’s surface that have become twisted and enlarged due to improper blood flow. As Johnson experienced, the condition commonly affects the veins of the legs with symptoms like itching, burning or tired, heavy legs with visible vein swelling. Relief for her finally came when her primary care physician at Mercy referred her to Dr. Karen Tabb, who had just begun a new, outpatient vein procedure at Mercy Clinic General Surgery – Lebanon.
“It starts with an ultrasound to look for incompetent or dilated veins,” Dr. Tabb explained. “Then we prep the leg and insert a catheter to collapse and close the enlarged leg veins in patients with varicose veins and Chronic Venous Insufficiency, a condition where the veins cannot pump enough blood to the heart. The tissue around the vein is injected with a numbing medication. This may cause a small amount of pain during injection. After that, there is little to no pain and it’s over within 30-45 minutes. Before this, we used vein stripping or other big surgeries.”
Johnson was Dr. Tabb’s first patient to undergo the procedure. “She talked with me the whole time,” Johnson said. “Immediately after she was done, I had no pain. I came back later to get my other leg done, and was able to drive myself home.” Most patients see positive results within two to six weeks.
“We’ve got a large group of patients who have been waiting for us to be able to offer this,” Dr. Tabb added. “Otherwise, they would have to drive at least an hour to get the procedure somewhere else.” Dr. Tabb says about 70 percent of Americans have some sort of venous insufficiency. “Many don’t know they have them, so they are the patients we want to target, so they avoid complications later in life.”
“I never had to stop doing my day-to-day activities,” Johnson said. Her veins have disappeared and her legs are slowly returning to their normal color. “It’s just so nice not to be in any pain.”
To learn more about the vein procedure at Mercy Clinic General Surgery – Lebanon, call (417) 533-6780.