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Restoring healthy legs: The Vein Center at Lowell General Hospital

Lowell General Hospital opened the region’s premier multi-disciplinary center dedicated to treating the full spectrum of venous disease. Located at Lowell General Hospital’s Saints Campus on One Hospital Drive, The Vein Center provides an easily-accessible outpatient setting for the treatment of conditions such as varicose veins, leg swelling and pain, and chronic venous insufficiency, a condition
where veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart.

Led by Medical Director Dr. Allan I. Hoffman, The Vein Center team includes board-certified physicians, licensed radiologic technologists and registered nurses. Each member of the team has specialized training in interventional procedures and advanced nursing care.

Venous disease, which refers to all conditions related to veins that become abnormal or diseased, is commonly characterized by large bulging veins known as varicose veins. Up to 40% of women and 25% of men are affected by this condition, which can develop through a combination of weakened vein walls and faulty vein valves. Normal vein walls, which are usually very elastic and supple, can become
weak and allow the recirculating blood to flow backward. Valves in these veins can also fail to function properly, allowing blood to pool and pressure to build. This damages veins, allowing them to become twisted, enlarged, and painful. “While some patients receive cosmetic solutions, most are looking for relief from compromised vein function,” says Dr. Hoffman. “Varicose veins can be very painful, especially for those whose careers and livelihood require them to stand on their feet for hours at a time. Many patients enter our office in pain, and walk out after the treatment to lead happier, healthier, and more active lives.”

Kathleen Laferriere, RN, BSN, CCRN, a nurse for close to 30 years, knows the disabling effect of varicose veins all too well. As a cardiac nurse at Lowell General, Laferriere assists with emergency lifesaving procedures for heart attack patients every day in the Heart and Vascular Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. Passionate in her career, she takes care of the sickest of patients, and thinks nothing of the long hours in the procedure room, standing on a hard floor wearing a lead apron.

“I call it the curse of the nurse,” says Laferriere. “For a long time, I dealt with tired and achy legs, it’s just something I got used to with a job that you rush around on your feet all day. It’s when the pain and constant aching started waking me up at night, I decided it was time to do something about it.”

In April of this year, Laferriere arranged for a consult with Vein Center physician Dr. Wei Du to discuss treatment options. An ultrasound confirmed treatment was needed in both legs, and that Laferriere was a candidate for an Endovenous Laser Ablation procedure. In this treatment, a catheter is placed into the incompetent vein through a 1/4-inch incision and the diseased vein is closed using a painless
laser to shut down the faulty veins. The veins then shrink down and close, rerouting the blood to the other healthy veins.

“I did one leg at a time, so I had two procedures spaced six weeks apart. Both times, the procedures were really quick, under a half hour, and I was cleared to go to work the next day. The staff was so helpful, fully explaining the procedure, recovery, and expectations. With prep time, procedure, and recovery, I was in and out in two hours. I didn’t have any scars, just some very mild bruising, and I wore compression stockings for two weeks. I was able to resume my activities, and immediately started walking several miles a day and getting back to my regular exercise routine. The best part is there was no more waking up in the middle of the night and no more chronic ache.”

Treatments offered at The Vein Center include:

Endovenous Laser Ablation, where local anesthesia and ultrasound guidance is used to locate the affected veins and then laser therapy is applied to treat them.

Ambulatory Microphlebectomy, which involves the removal of varicose veins through micro-incisions using local anesthesia.

The selection of a specific procedure is based on a patient’s symptoms, a physical examination, and an ultrasound if needed.

Learn more About Us and The Vein Center Team. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

All phases of the patient experience, from initial consultation and diagnosis to treatment and follow-up care are available at The Vein Center. A referral is required, and most procedures are
covered by insurance. For more information, please call 978-937-VEIN (8346).

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