New procedure for vein disease offered in Billings

BILLINGS – Rocky Mountain Vein Clinic is among the first locations in the Billings area to feature a technology called VenaSeal to combat vein disease, which likely affects around 30,000 people in the local area.

Varicose veins can be extremely painful. People who stand, or sit, for long periods of time are prone to developing them. This includes those in the service and healthcare industry and pregnant women.

“The main problem when you have vein problems is in your legs, because when you stand it allows vein blood, which doesn’t have much oxygen, to accumulate in your legs. Gravity pulls it down to the lowest point,” said Dr. James L. Johnson II, founder of Rocky Mountain Vein Clinic.

He performs procedures known as endovenous ablation for the treatable condition.

“Previously we used heat catheters to close the veins, and that worked really well and people tolerate it quite well,” Johnson said.

Heat catheters use anesthesia to get the vein to contract. The heat seals the vein shut. The procedure requires several needle incisions, and the patient must wear compression stockings night and day for a few weeks following. A new system for eliminating vein issues may replace that method.

The VenaSeal system applies the same principle of closing the problem vein, but uses an adhesive, rather than heat.

“We can close the veins using an adhesive, basically super glue. And we just glue the veins shut, and the advantages are there’s only one little needle poke you have to do for the whole procedure. And you don’t have to wear the compression stockings afterward,” Johnson said.

A clear catheter is inserted within in the vein, and the adhesive is then pumped into the vein. The glue is applied throughout, while pressure is placed to press it closed.

The procedures force blood to take a different route, through healthy veins. In both instances, the affected vein eventually becomes absorbed by the body.

“And a lot of the symptoms associated with venous disease are things that people don’t associate with vein problems,” Dr. Johnson said.

Indicators of vein problems can be swelling, heaviness, aching, and fatigue at the end of the day. Restless legs, cramping, and itching can also be a result.

“And all of these problems are made worse by standing or sitting. And everybody has another excuse for it – ‘I’m dehydrated, not getting enough electrolytes.’ That may be, but the vein problem is really what sets you up.”

Relief may be less expensive in the future, according to Dr. Johnson.

“We’ve done almost 30 different procedures and have had really good success. However, insurance companies and Medicare weren’t covering it. But now, as of Jan. 1, Medicare has decided to cover this procedure so it really offers a whole new treatment modality for many of our patients.”

He advised anyone who thinks they may have a vein problem not to wait.

“It’s a quality of life thing. It’s a problem that comes on over 15 years. It affects about 20 percent of the population, so one in five, it’s very, very common. And people don’t realize how bad their legs feel, so you fix their veins and it’s gone immediately. So it’s something that really has a big impact on a lot of people,” Johnson said.


Article by: Jenny Fick – MTN News