PORTLAND -- More than 20 million Americans suffer from varicose veins. In the past, successful treatment for the bulging veins entailed major surgery, a long recovery period, and pain. But a revolutionary new procedure eliminates almost all that.

Jude Foster has lived with varicose veins for nearly 37 years. For me it came with my first pregnancy and I was only 26 and that's when I first got them, explained Jude.

She said they are large, bulging, knots on her left leg that limit her activity and often ache. I'm tired of being incredibly embarrassed when I take off my long pants in the spring and there's these big knotty things on my legs, said Jude.

After failed treatments in the past, Jude turned to vascular surgeon Kenneth Janoff for help.

Varicose veins are caused by reflux of blood in the veins down the leg, explained Dr. Janoff. He said they occur when blood flowing against gravity pools in weakened veins. It can be caused by genetics, pregnancies... estrogens are also thought to cause part of it, explained Dr. Janoff.

Dr. Janoff treated Jude's varicose veins with a new procedure called the VNUS ClosureFAST procedure.

Jude was given just a local anesthesia. Doctor Janoff then made a tiny incision in her thigh and threaded a catheter up the problem vein. Using an ultrasound, Dr. Janoff was able to see the instrument inside.

Once inside the vein, the catheter used radio frequency waves to heat up to 120 degrees and essentially collapsed the vein and shut it off. The entire process took only about 15 minutes. Jude felt only some minimal discomfort.

Dr. Janoff's office manager Kathy Petty had the surgery last May. I did feel immediate relief... I didn't realize how symptomatic I was until afterwards because I felt a difference, she told KGW.

It's a difference that Jude said she has waited decades for. Smooth skin instead of bumpy, and a summer of once again wearing shorts. It didn't hurt, it was great... it's exciting, exclaimed Jude.

As for what happens to the closed veins? The blood moves back to the healthier interior veins and the closed veins can either remain in the leg or doctors can remove them through a small incision.

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