When Varicose Veins Leads to Leg Ulcer, This Alaskan Takes Charge

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Blog Post CJ Smith Karen P Before After

After decades of overlooking her varicose veins, Karen's vein disease progressed into a painful venous ulcer that required medical intervention to heal. Enter Center for Vein Restoration.

For almost thirty years, Karen P. had varicose veins. Assuming that her bulging veins were "just a cosmetic issue," the 67-year-old dismissed the enlarged veins. And because she lives in Alaska and experiences Raynaud's syndrome (a phenomenon in which limited blood supply to some areas of the body makes fingers, toes, ears, etc., cold), Karen was accustomed to wearing pants that hid her condition from the outside world.

Unfortunately, like many others, Karen didn't realize that her varicose veins were a sign of an underlying circulatory problem—until the symptoms became painfully impossible to ignore.

"Varicose veins were part of everyday life. I never gave it a thought. Then suddenly, I developed what I thought was a small bruise on the inside of my ankle. It got worse, swelled, and started to bleed... I had a venous ulcer" Karen P., CVR patient, Anchorage, Alaska

An avid walker, Karen was surprised that suddenly none of her sneakers fit comfortably, and she developed an ankle bruise that bled. Using her master's in education together with her dad, who has a background in medical research, Karen uncovered that her "bruise" was a venous stasis ulcer.

Furthermore, Karen learned that "you can't fix a venous ulcer; you have to fix the cause first."

A venous ulcer becomes a medical emergency

Within three weeks of developing symptoms such as swelling and the mysterious wound on her left ankle, Karen found herself standing in a pool of blood at work at her business support shop—and suddenly, her venous stasis ulcer had become a medical emergency. During a trip to the ER to stop the bleeding, Karen underwent a diagnostic ultrasound, and it was confirmed that her venous ulcer needed treatment by a vascular professional.

How to find the best vein care provider in Alaska

Karen lives in Sitka, Alaska, which she describes as a "remote rural city" with no one nearby qualified to treat her venous insufficiency. A provider in Juneau referred her to Center for Vein Restoration in Anchorage. That's where she met Cynthia "CJ" Smith, PA-C.

CJ recalls meeting with Karen:

"When Karen got here, she could barely walk. After her treatments, she was walking with full weight on her leg. She is a wonderful, smart lady who owns a business in Sitka, so she had to close her shop to visit our office in Anchorage and only had three days, so we tackled the worse leg for her. She is more than pleased with her results!" – Cynthia Smith, PA-C, Anchorage, Alaska, and Fairbanks, Alaska

Treatment for venous ulcer

Because Karen had to close her business and fly to seek treatment for her venous ulcer, her CVR vein specialist customized a treatment plan that could be completed within a small window of opportunity.

These vein treatments included:


This ingenious, minimally invasive technique uses medical adhesive to close the diseased vein. Blood is rerouted to nearby healthy veins.

Ambulatory phlebectomy

During this minor surgical procedure (also known as micro phlebectomy or stab phlebectomy), diseased veins are removed through tiny incisions. A local anesthetic keeps the patient comfortable, and the incisions require only a band-aid to heal.

Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy

During this minimally invasive, highly effective treatment, the physician uses ultrasonography to guide the placement of a fine-gauge needle into the problem vein. A medical foam called a sclerosant is injected, irritating the vein and causing it to collapse. Blood is rerouted to healthy veins as the defective vein is reabsorbed into the body.

Find a vein specialist near you

When symptoms of venous insufficiency cause you pain, itching, and swelling, you want help from an expert specializing in vein disease. Center for Vein Restoration is your vein care expert. We help 200,000+ patients every year to look and feel their best. In fact, CVR conducts more vein procedures than any other clinic or hospital.

You can schedule an appointment ONLINE, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Need more information? Tell us a little about yourself HERE.

Treatment is covered by most major insurances.

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