Varicose vein procedure gets new name

Dr. Brad Baldwin, who does a varicose vein surgery that is minimally-invasive and requires putting a catheter in the leg and closing off a vein rather than using the old technique and stripping out the vein.

The procedure isn’t new but the name is.

Venefit, known as VNUS Closure Procedure until a couple months ago, collapses an improperly-functioning vein to relieve varicose vein symptoms. Dr. Brad Baldwin of Surgical Associates of Western Colorado, 1060 Orchard Ave., has performed the surgery for about seven years, by his estimate. He wants to get the word out about the new name and the growing popularity of the procedure.

Venefit, which got a new name this spring after the procedure switched catheter providers, involves a surgeon placing a patient under local anesthesia, inserting a radio-frequency ablation catheter into a varicose vein in the patient’s leg and heating the vein tissue so the vein walls will collapse and seal off the vein. Blood that had pooled in the vein without circulating properly will naturally go to other veins and send more blood to the heart following the procedure, which alleviates varicose vein appearance and discomfort in 93 percent of people who get the procedure, according to a three-year study of European patients.

The procedure is for people with severe varicose vein issues, not people looking for a cosmetic fix for spider veins. As the only Grand Junction surgeon approved by Rocky Mountain HMO to perform Venefit procedures, Baldwin said his office performs an ultrasound on a patient’s leg to determine which vein or veins need the procedure. Baldwin said many insurance providers will cover the cost of the procedure based on the results of the ultrasound. He does not perform the surgery on people who do not qualify for insurance coverage of the procedure.

Baldwin said word of mouth has helped spread the word about the minimally invasive procedure, which takes 30-45 minutes and often allows people to return to their normal activities within a day or two. Baldwin said the procedure is less painful than a now-rarely-used varicose vein procedure called vein stripping, which involves removing a vein.

“We don’t prescribe anything but Tylenol and most people don’t take anything” after a Venefit procedure, Baldwin said. “It’s so helpful for the little needle poke it takes to get it done compared to what it took in the past.”

Complications of the procedure may include hematoma, infection, numbness, phlebitis, pulmonary embolism, skin burn, thrombosis, tingling or vessel perforation, according to Covidien, the health care-device supplier that provides catheters for Venefit procedures.

Other varicose vein treatment options include compression stockings, laser surgeries, removing smaller veins through punctures in the skin, video camera-guided vein removal procedures, procedures that involve injecting a solution into a vein to close it off, and other procedures that involve the use of catheters, according to


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