Sanford helps patient clear varicose veins 3 ways

North Dakota mom is back to playing with kids without leg pain

Sanford helps patient clear varicose veins 3 ways

Some patients who want their varicose veins removed do so for cosmetic reasons. But for people like Abby Braaten of Bowman, North Dakota, there was something more.

“If I was doing any sort of jumping, like if I’m jumping on the trampoline with my kids, or any type of cardio activity, then I’d get a throbbing pain in my leg,” said Braaten. “One time a softball bumped me, another time my kid just kicked but not even hard, and it swelled up like a baseball. So that’s when I reached out.”

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are swollen, superficial veins near the surface of the skin. When valves inside those veins stop functioning properly, blood can pool up and the veins can bulge outward. Not all varicose veins cause pain, but Braaten’s did.

She was referred to Sanford Health in Bismarck and interventional radiologist Andrew Miller, M.D., who explained that removing varicose veins doesn’t hinder blood flow.

“Ninety percent of the people I treat ask the same question: ‘Where’s the blood going to go? Don’t I need this?’ And I tell them, these veins that we’re treating aren’t functioning. They’re not doing anything for you. The blood is just sitting there pooling and causing pain and discomfort,” Dr. Miller said.

“We’re shutting down something that isn’t functioning. We’re putting it into a deeper system that is functioning appropriately, and this is going to improve your circulation.”

Treatment options for varicose veins

Dr. Miller said the majority of his varicose vein patients have their problematic veins removed. However, Braaten needed three different minimally-invasive procedures to treat veins in both legs:

  • Phlebectomy, or removal of the vein
  • Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), which seals off a vein using heat from a laser
  • Sclerotherapy, in which a chemical is injected into the vein, constricting the flow and eventually causing the varicose vein to disappear

“All three were required because there were different types of veins and not one of those options could treat all of them,” said Dr. Miller. “So when people have venous care, they’ll want to make sure they go to a place that offers all of those, because it takes a lot of different tools to treat varicose veins appropriately.”

Feeling better

For Braaten, the relief was almost immediate.

“I went back to regular activity probably within a week,” she said. “And that week was not because my leg was uncomfortable or anything, but more just to follow care instructions.”

She also says her discomfort while being active is gone.

“That throbbing pulse that was running through there all the time, I don’t have that at all anymore. My other little patch hasn’t had any swelling or anything like that either,” Braaten said. “And they look so much better.”

Now Abby Braaten has become an advocate for these procedures. Varicose veins run in her family. Because of her experience, Braaten said one of her sisters has already had her varicose veins treated. And another sister is planning to do so as well.

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Posted In Bismarck, Rural Health, Vascular