My story: On my feet, cutting meat, a recipe for venous defeat

Mark is happy to be back on his feet after undergoing a new procedure for varicose veins.

If you have leg pain and swelling, working a job where you stand on hard floors all day is no picnic. Just ask Mark, owner of a Lester Prairie meat market. “I’d start out feeling good, but by the end of the day I’d get swelling and throbbing in my calves, and I’d have no energy.“

Mark had all the symptoms of venous reflux disease. The valves that control the flow of blood in his legs were leaking and causing blood to flow backwards and pool up in his veins. This, in turn, caused pressure inside the veins to build up. The result was painful swelling, a heavy feeling in his legs, fatigue and varicose veins. Dark blue or purple, varicose veins are close to the surface of the skin and appear to be twisted or bulging, like cords.

An estimated 72 percent of women and 42 percent of men will have varicose veins by the time they reach their 60s. Family history also plays a big role. Mark’s mother had surgery for varicose veins when she was younger. Other risk factors include multiple pregnancies, obesity and lots of time spent standing.

Mark works six days a week, usually arriving at his market by 7:30 a.m. Most of his day is spent standing on hard floors – whether cutting meat, making sausage, filling display cases or serving customers. Away from work, Mark enjoys boating, golfing and hunting. But those activities were also made more difficult by vein problems.

Mark discussed his symptoms with GRHS surgeon John Bergseng, DO. After a more conventional procedure on Mark’s left leg, Dr. Bergseng used a new, less-invasive procedure on the right leg. First, he made a very small incision, which became the access point to insert a catheter into Mark’s diseased vein. Once in place, the catheter delivered temperature-controlled radio frequency (RF) energy to the vein wall. Heating the vein wall causes it to collapse. After the vein is sealed shut, blood then naturally reroutes to healthy veins.

“This new procedure achieves the same results as conventional surgery, but it uses smaller incisions, has a faster recovery time and less discomfort,” Dr. Bergseng says. Following his radio frequency vein closure, Mark went home the same day, iced and elevated his leg, and was back working in a couple of days.

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