New vein disease treatment arrives in Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you have vein disease, you may not have a leg to stand on. Literally. Vein disease is twice as common as heart disease. It can be painful, debilitating and hard to spot.

People who have vein disease may notice dark skin, splotchy, swollen or spidery veins. They may also feel the cramping, pain and skin ulcers. One Austin doctor is using two new techniques to treat it, and he says the results are remarkable.

“That can get infected. Infection can get into the bone and that can lead to severe problems, including amputation of the foot,” Dr. Carlos Hamilton, a vascular radiologist said.

Vein disease is tricky to identify, often misdiagnosed. Afflictions like Diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis can mask it. Burnet resident Laura Ann Bird has had MS for years and did not realize what else she had.

“Well I had been told that everything was MS for so long that I was surprised to learn this, but thankful,” Bird said.

Before now, Laura Ann would have been treated with vein stripping. Dr. Hamilton compares it de-veining a shrimp, only you are the shrimp… Not a pleasant experience.

“The recovery is miserable,” Hamilton explained. “That treatment also has a high recurrence rate. It has the highest failure rate and the most complications.”

And don’t think of this as just an old persons disease. 1/4 of victims are under 50 years old. At the Hamilton Vein Center, Dr. Hamilton now uses two new techniques long successful in Europe: Heating the vein like a microwave or inserting medicated foam. The faulty vein shuts down and the blood is rerouted through healthy veins.

“We treated Laura. The next day she came in it was the first time she slept through the night in years,” Hamilton said. “She was doing fantastic.”

“I could walk,” Laura Ann said with a smile. “I had no pain, used no painkillers of any kind. I feel great.”

Dr. Hamilton is pleased too, but wishes he could have treated Laura Ann 15 or 20 years ago.

If you suspect you may have vein disease, consult your doctor.

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