New treatment for varicose veins

SEWELL, N.J. - October 22, 2010

Ronnie Whyte's life doesn't have a slow gear. Her workday as a nurse and administrator keeps her on her feet. In her spare time, she's on the go, too, riding and having fun with the Jersey Girls motorcycle enthusiasts. Running keeps her body fit, but spider veins, and a swollen, twisting vein keeps Ronnie self-conscious about wearing skirts and shorts.

"I'm just embarrassed by the bulging vein," she said. "I feel that everyone looks at it."

After checking out several options, Ronnie decided to go to Dr. Steve Davis for a recently approved product called Asclera. Its prime ingredient, polidocanol, has been used for decades.

"This agent, in different forms, has shown up in creams, ointments, all topical type of anesthetic products, even things for bee stings or burns," Dr. Davis said.

Varicose veins occur when the valves in those blood vessels weaken, and blood pools, making the vein bulge.

For years, doctors have made smaller varicose veins go away, by injecting compounds into them. The compounds damage the vessel walls, shutting them down and diverting the blood to healthier veins. But those compounds have had a major drawback.

"There's a burning, and then there's a traveling effect of that discomfort," said Dr. Davis.

Since Asclera's prime ingredient is an anesthetic, there's less discomfort.

"There's no downtime to this at all," he said.

Dr. Davis starts the treatment with the bulging vein on the front of Ronnie's leg. It takes about 15 minutes to treat all of the spots on Ronnie's legs. The injections can cause some local bruising. And the veins can turn darker for a few weeks until the pooled blood dissipates.

In rare cases, polidocanol can cause allergic reactions, such as a rash, swelling or difficulty breathing.

And if you've ever had a stroke or blood clots, Asclera might not be for you.

After the treatment, Dr. Davis wraps Ronnie's legs with an elastic bandage. Then she heads back to work. Two weeks later, Ronnie's lower leg was smooth, with no sign of where the varicose vein was.

Now, she's as busy as before, but feeling better about her looks.

Dr. Davis says Asclera treatments range from $350 to $700, depending how many injections are needed. And sometimes, a second treatment is needed about a month later to eliminate the veins. However, he believes Asclera will soon replace other injectables already on the market.

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