Published on July 19, 2018

Pain-free and dancing thanks to varicose vein ablation

Patti Casey is a new woman thanks to a new procedure offered by MaineGeneral

By Shelby Stanley

After 20 years living in pain, Patti Casey of Pittston didn’t see a solution to her varicose veins. She began developing them when she was 19 years old and they “grew to be as thick as my fingers,” she said.

For more than 20 years she had swollen ankles and was in constant pain. An earlier procedure she tried in the 1990s included multiple injections and didn’t solve the problem.

This spring, Casey had so much swelling in her left ankle that she developed an ulcer. At that point she decided to visit her primary care provider (PCP). There she was told, “That’s not only an open wound; it’s infected. These are the things that lead to amputation.”

She was scheduled for consult at MaineGeneral Surgery in Augusta, where she met with John Carson, MD, a board-certified and fellowship-trained surgeon, who treated her wound with Unna Boots (tight compression wraps) for three weeks along with calamine lotion and zinc.

When the wound cleared and was no longer an immediate danger to her health, Dr. Carson, who knew of Casey’s history with varicose veins, suggested treating the underlying cause of the wound. Casey was nervous; 10 years earlier a vascular doctor had told her that to solve her varicose veins, she would have to undergo surgery in an operating room that would require six months of healing.

Thanks to a newer procedure called vein ablation, Casey was able to have her varicose veins treated right in Dr. Carson’s office and was healed in two weeks.

The procedure is quick and minimally invasive. It involves a catheter placed into the vein at the level of the knee and then the varicose vein is closed. Blood then reroutes to healthier vessels.

“The procedure is less invasive than a dental appointment,” she said. “It caused me far more anxiety to have my teeth cleaned.”

During Casey’s procedure, a staff member stood by her and talked to her about Food Network while music played in the background. The procedure was completed within 90 minutes and she was bandaged and wearing compression stockings.

After surgery, Casey was told to keep walking. Two weeks later, she no longer needed the compression hose, and she couldn’t be happier.

“I have absolutely no pain. For 20 years I had aching and cramping and pain that I learned to live with,” she said, “so to not have that pain is astonishing.”

Now that Casey’s varicose veins have been treated, she can go back to doing the things she enjoys, like dancing with her husband. Before surgery, she could only dance for an hour before the pain became unbearable. After surgery, she went dancing with her husband for five hours, only stopping when the heel of her shoe broke.

“I can’t say enough to anyone hesitating, to anyone in pain. Don’t wait!”

To learn more about MaineGeneral Surgery’s vein ablation procedure, call (207) 621-4680.

Shelby Stanley is a sophomore communications major at Endicott College interning with MaineGeneral's Marketing & Communications Department this summer.