Weekly Feature

2010-05-06 / Business

Surgical Associates of WNY offering quick, painless vein treatment

by TIMOTHY CHIPP East Aurora Editor

Dr. Rurik C. Johnson Dr. Rurik C. Johnson Varicose veins are unsightly — and painful. But these days, Surgical Associates of Western New York is offering an easier and less-invasive way to get rid of them.

The condition, caused by dead or damaged valves in the veins, is both a cosmetic and medical concern. In addition to being unattractive, the dark strands may be the site of pain and swelling or of bleeding from minor injuries.

Procedures to treat varicose veins have changed in recent years, according to Dr. Rurik C. Johnson, a general surgeon with Surgical Associates.

“Ten years ago, we used to do stripping, where the doctor would take the vein out of the leg,” he said. “Over the last 10 years, there has been less stripping because the technology has improved.”

The new technology is called VNUS Closure, in which a thin catheter is inserted into the vein through a small opening. The catheter delivers radio-frequency energy to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse and seal shut as the apparatus is removed.

Procedures last approximately 30 minutes, require only moderate recovery time with little or no pain, and are covered by most insurance providers, according to Surgical Associates.

Once the diseased vein is closed, healthy veins then handle the blood flow from the legs. The patient’s symptoms should also improve noticeably following the procedure, with most people reporting alleviation of the condition within one or two weeks, according to the Surgical Associates’ Web site, www.surgical-associates wny. com.

Johnson said the push has been on for years to find a less-invasive and less-expensive way of handling these problems, but places such as Surgical Associates stay up on the latest technology for procedures, including advanced laparoscopic surgery.

“It’s costly changing over to these newer procedures,” he said. “But if you don’t stay up-to-date, you’re not offering the patients the best procedures. You have to stay up with the new technology.”

Ultimately, offices such as Surgical Associates pay more money for new equipment while receiving the same amount of money per procedure from insurance companies. The benefit is actually entirely the patient’s comfort, but little more.

Johnson, who specializes in advanced laparoscopic surgery for hernia repair and removal of the gall bladder, appendix and spleen, along with small and large intestinal surgeries, said the need to provide that comfort is great. That’s where the laparoscopic and minor-invasive vein treatment come to the forefront.

“There has been a push for less-invasive surgeries these last few years,” he said, adding that single-incision procedures are often outpatient procedures with no hospital stay required. Previous versions of the procedures, using three or four incisions, often required admittance to a hospital.

Surgical Associates also has been making strides in helping breast cancer patients, offering a new technology called MamoSite in conjunction with Cancer Care of Western New York.

Using a small balloon inserted into the breast during surgery, radiologists can provide localized radiation treatment, called partial breast radiation. A much higher treatment dose, partial radiation has a much quicker time frame. Patients receive treatments twice a day for five days. This is a drastic change from the normal treatment time of five to seven weeks using normal radiation treatment.

But the treatment plan is available only for certain patients and only those who have a lumpectomy. Mastectomy patients aren’t eligible for MamoSite.

Laser hair removal is also available through the surgical group.

For those in need of a vein treatment consultation, Surgical Associates is holding a free screening for new patients from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 15, at the group’s West Seneca location, 550 Orchard Park Road.

But to see a specialist about the varicose vein procedure, an appointment is necessary. Interested individuals should call 677-5500 or visit the company’s Web site for more information.

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