Jenny: About ten years ago, I noticed I started to get veins in my legs. I was only about 20, 22 years old.
Joyce: Way too young, Jenny Lavin thought, for varicose veins. Then two children later . . .
Jenny: They got worse and worse and worse.
Joyce: Barely 30, this nurse and mother of four now could bear it no more.
Jenny: My legs were like sore and heavy like really tired, fatigued. Maybe five or six hours into my shift at work, they just were like throbbing. And that’s why everyone was like, “Oh but you’re too young.” And then I would show them and they would be like, “Oh, wow.”
Dr. Dietzek: Hi, Jenny.
Joyce: “Don’t be surprised,” says vascular surgeon Dr. Charles Dietzek.
Dr. Dietzek: And we’ve had people come in as early as 14 and 15 years old.
Joyce: But he says the condition is still widely considered cosmetic and treatment is mostly not covered in the early stages.
Dr. Dietzek: They are not going to get better. It’s not going to resolve itself.
Jenny: I always thought that I could take care of it later.
Joyce: So did Judy Carr.
Judy: They never told me that the vein was causing the ulcers.
Joyce: Misdiagnosed and mistreated for decades, Judy’s bulging veins appeared 40 years ago in her 20s. She’s been suffering with recurring gaping holes in her ankle for more than a dozen years now.
Judy: And it takes about a month for them to heal. They just put a Band-Aid on the ulcer and put the Unna boot on me to make the blood flow up my leg.
Dr. Dietzek: Unfortunately that’s a big problem.
Joyce: Especially, he says, since the fix is relatively easy.
Dr. Dietzek: Because I put in this medicine to compress it and to numb up the area.
Joyce: Preparing the malfunctioning vein to receive this metal instrument.
Dr. Dietzek: I’m going to turn the catheter on.
Joyce: It will heat up about 250 degrees.
Dr. Dietzek: That white line is the catheter inside the vein and closing off the vein. The simple thing to think of it is cauterizing the inside of the vein from the inside out.
Joyce: It took only about an hour in the doctor’s office.
Dr. Dietzek: So we were able to shut off these two leaking veins that is the major cause for her having this build-up of pressure in the lower leg.
Joyce: Both ladies are wearing compression stockings while they heal. Weeks later . . . Oh it’s good, huh?
Joyce: Uh-huh. I’m happy. No more issues at night when I’m trying to sleep. It all went away.
Joyce: Except for some fading bruises, that’s it for Jenny.
Judy: I’m very happy with it.
Joyce: For Judy . . .
Dr. Dietzek: It’s a definitely better looking leg.
Judy: It’s not as painful, it’s not as swollen.
Joyce: But Dr. Dietzek says damage to Judy’s ankle may be permanent.
Dr. Dietzek: It’s definitely possible that she’ll get another ulcer in the future.
Joyce: To lessen her chances, he injected a foam to shut down other leaky veins deep down still fueling those sores.
Dr. Dietzek: A billion dollars in healthcare dollars are being spent every single year in treating patients with ulcers. And so we want to avoid that.
Joyce: Now doctors around the country are comparing very similar cases to show why earlier intervention with varicose veins may save a lot of time and money and pain. A ten year goal has been set to cut in half the number of patients suffering like Judy by treating them when they’re Jenny’s age. Joyce Evans, Fox 29 News.