Varicose veins: More common and dangerous than most think


Varicose veins can occur in almost anyone and affect nearly a third of the people in the US.

While it is most commonly seen in women, especially obese women or those who are pregnant, it can still happen to men. Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen, and twisting veins, and can be dark blue, purple, or even red.

KX spoke with one man who recently had the new procedure, who says he wishes he would have done it years ago.

Varicose vein patient David Peterman says “I was welding there up in Minot on our fence and stuff, and it kind of brought me to my knees at times. So I cowboyed through it and one thing led to another and my wife ended up making me go to family practice doctor over at Sanford.”

Peterman says he has been struggling with his pain in his legs since the late 1980s.

“My right leg would swell and you couldn’t feel your foot and it was always cold,” says Peterman.

Many people just like Peterman think their leg swelling or other leg problems is nothing more than a cosmetic issue, but in many cases, it’s actually due to varicose veins. It happens when your vein valves aren’t getting the proper blood flow.

Sanford Health Cardiologist Dr. Nayan Desai says, “People usually think cardiology or heart issues are just in the chest but the blood supply goes through the whole body. It goes to the brain and can cause strokes and goes to the leg and causes an ulcer within the arteries and the veins and varicose veins.”

Varicose veins cause skin damage, ulcers and can even lead to dangerous blood clots. Dr. Desai says now with new technology fixing this problem is a very simple same-day procedure that only takes around an hour.

“Now we can do all this with a catheter and we do it with the gel and heat energy to get the vein clotted up so it does not leak anymore and people feel better with it,” says Dr. Desai.

He says recovery isn’t bad at all, but there are some follow-up measures all his patients should take into consideration.

“We ask them to wear tight socks because we don’t want any clots happening in that area and then they get an ultrasound sometime in 7 to 10 days and we schedule the other part and do one leg at a time.”

Peterman says he is just happy to be back to his normal self. “The leg has always been warmer. The foot has always been warmer. You can actually put your boot on and you don’t have to stuff your ankle in it,” says Peterman.

Factors such as genetics, excess weight, and long periods of standing or sitting can increase your risk for varicose veins.

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