Hooking ugly varicose veins

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
May 16, 2008 4:07:49 PM PDT
Twenty-five million Americans have varicose veins, which are different from spider veins. Varicose veins are raised, blue, bulging veins in the legs that cause pain and discomfort. Getting rid of them hasn't been easy, and they often return. Now, doctors can remove them...hook, line and sinker.Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Margaret Jaqueumin loves chasing her daughter, Riley, around, and she finally has the legs to do it. She's had varicose veins since her 20s.

"You don't want to be young and, you know, wearing fun outfits and then you see these ugly blue-ish green veins sticking out," Jaqueumin said.

She hated how they looked and how they felt.

"They were hurtful," she said. "They were very painful. They would burn your skin, get swollen."

Dr. Peter Lawrence, a vascular surgeon at the UCLA Gonda Vascular Center in Los Angeles, says 40 percent of adults have varicose veins. Many get them removed.

"The more completely we can remove it, the better their symptoms relief will be and the better they'll look cosmetically," Dr. Lawrence said.

Laser or vein stripping treatments can leave bruises that last for days. Now, Dr. Lawrence has a better way to remove them with crochet hooks. Yep, that's right, crochet hooks.

"Maybe once or twice a year, I'll go into a knitting store and buy my crochet hooks," Dr. Lawrence said.

He spends an hour filing them down to get the hooks ready for surgery. He also uses trans-illumination during surgery to light up veins under the skin.

"It allows me to see virtually all of the vein," Dr. Lawrence said. "I can make a tiny little incision next to the vein, catch it with a crochet hook and then remove it."

A study of more than 260 patients shows the technique resulted in quick vein removal, little bruising, and excellent cosmetic outcomes.

"They seem to prefer this to virtually anything else that had been tried on them," Dr. Lawrence said.

Jaqueumin had the procedure last summer, and it worked.

"It's nice and smooth and soft and youthful," she said. "It looks like a leg that belongs on a 30-something-year-old woman, versus a 70-year-old woman."

Finally, healthy legs for this new mom.

The incisions are so small, patients don't need stitches to close them up. Patients are usually back on their feet -- vein- and pain-free -- in just a couple of days. Dr. Lawrence says he got the idea to use crochet hooks from a surgeon friend of his in Brazil.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

UCLA Gonda Vascular Surgery Center
Phone: (310) 825-4357
Ask for Rosa


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