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Spotlight Shines on Varicose Vein Removal

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Spotlight Shines on Varicose Vein Removal

December 06, 2000
By Lilly Manske, Veins1 Staff

Jim Porter, Body1, Inc’s Marketing Director, can wear those shorts again. Porter, now 36, developed severe varicosities that extended from the top of his thighs to the middle of his calves when he was 17 years old. This month, he finally rid himself of the varicose veins that have plagued him for the last twenty years. Now, he thinks, “Why did this take me so long?”

Porter admits, “To me, mentally, the cosmetic thing was bigger than the physical.” Porter talked to his general practitioner, who according to Porter, “left the decision up to me. Yes, my legs constantly throbbed after exercise, but for me the aesthetic aspect also was important.” When Porter learned of the new Smith+Nephew procedure developed by Dr. Gregory Spitz of Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, IL, he decided to learn more. The procedure, called TriVex or transilluminated powered phlebectomy, is a new method of varicose-vein removal. This method combines transillumination and tumescent anesthesia to remove varicose veins in a less invasive way than traditional surgery.

Porter consulted Dr. Steven Elias of Holy Name Hospital in Englewood, New Jersey. He needed another opinion in order to make a final decision. He remembers, “Initially, when I saw Dr. Elias, I think it was almost a relief when he said that mine was an advanced case. It was not merely spider veins or small varicose veins, but was a large case of varicosities that led me to believe it was time I took care of the situation.”

Although Porter waited years before having his varicose veins removed, but he believes he is much younger than most males who seek treatment. According to Porter, “I am atypical because I had it done when I was 36, and other men usually wait until much later. My dad had his veins removed at a much older age. Varicose veins are hereditary in most cases.”

Porter knew that his condition was hereditary; yet, like many people, he also saw it as more of a woman’s problem. “From what I read, women are more conscious of their varicosities and in treating them. I would say that I am a typical male in that I procrastinated in getting this done.” Those who suffer from a health condition often seek an explanation for their condition; ultimately, Porter traces his varicose-vein problem back to his genes, although he wondered what other factors could have contributed to them. “I thought because I played a lot of tennis and other sports, I had accelerated the process, but I really didn’t. After I exercised, they were more pronounced. What it really comes down to, though, is time and genes.”

When considering surgery, one has to weigh the benefits and risks. For Porter, the minimal number of incisions left by the TriVex procedure convinced him to go ahead with this surgery. Porter said, “To hear that there would only be three to four incisions in my leg instead of 30 or 40 was a relief.” He continues, “When my dad had a coronary bypass they took out his saphenous vein—there was more pain associated with that than the actual heart surgery because of the amount of incisions they made in order to remove the veins. I knew that by definition that less incisions mean less pain.”

Minimally invasive surgery is still surgery, though. According to Porter, “I underestimated the pain involved because the TriVex procedure was new and revolutionary. I had to remember that it was still surgery—I went under the knife. However, Dr. Elias helped by carefully explained the process and by closely following my condition following surgery.” Porter’s recovery process included rest, elevation of legs, and wearing a compression stocking for three weeks. Although he did not experience excruciating pain, there was discomfort, especially in the first week following surgery. “It hurt most in the thigh because I had the most varicosities there. At first, I had a pronounced limp. Soon, I could limp pretty quickly. By the second week, I was walking pretty well. I had to just give it the proper amount of time.”

Two weeks after surgery, Porter feels relief at finally having his varicose veins removed. “Although it was a little uncomfortable the first week after surgery, I am glad I had it done. It is a good feeling not to have to worry about my veins anymore. I would recommend this procedure to people who have delayed surgery because they were unaware of their options.” Dr. Steven Elias, Dr. Gregory Spitz (the inventor of the TriVex procedure), and Jim Porter appeared on WNBC in New York on Friday, Nov. 10. This television segment illuminated how the TriVex procedure has changed the method of varicose-vein removal.

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