A Personal Story

My personal interest in varicose veins – from our director Dr. Luke Matar

The reason for my strong interest in varicose veins is because “it’s personal”. Varicose veins as many of you will know, tend to run in families. If your mother and father both have varicose veins there is an almost 90% chance you will also have them.

I was acutely aware of the potential consequences of untreated venous disease simply by looking at my father’s legs. These pictures taken in Jan 2014 show the consequences of long term untreated venous disease ( AKA venous incompetence, reflux or dysfunction) and associated varicose veins.

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My father suffered his whole adult life with itchy, uncomfortable and at times painful legs. He had recurrent episodes of superficial thrombosis, venous ulceration and avoided air travel for the last 30 years as it greatly exacerbated his symptoms. His legs become progressively stained, pigmented and indurated as time went on.

The reason my father (an intelligent medical specialist) did not proceed with surgical treatment (all that was available in his day) as he believed “the treatment is worse than the disease”. He had seen and assisted in the old fashioned “stripping” of veins, something he referred to as a “medieval operation” and did not want to undergo the surgery or associated long recovery. Like many men, he decided he would rather “soldier on” than get treatment. When I look back on the treatments available to him, I can understand his decision !

In my 30’s I too started developing all the symptoms my father had at this age. In my 40’s the disease progressed and my veins were frequently itchy and uncomfortable and I suffered with “restless legs”. When I consulted a vascular surgeon I was told “there are not bad enough to worry about, come back and see us in another 10 years”! This is when I decided there had to be a better way.

My research led me to discover that endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) was the most modern and effective treatment available. I sought out a recognised world expert; Mr Mark Whitely of The Whitely Clinic in the UK who had introduced the EVLA technique to England, to be my mentor. I was so impressed with Mark that after training with him, I had him personally treat my own veins !

Since this time I have been travelling extensively interstate and overseas to learn further advanced techniques from other international and national experts in the field of phlebology (vein medicine).

The modern treatment of varicose veins is founded on a solid understanding of venous ultrasound and technical skill performing ultrasound guided procedures. As a specialist Radiologist with over 15yrs experience in ultrasound and ultrasound guided procedures and a personal interest in the field, the transition to endovenous treatment of varicose veins has been a natural one for me.

I am committed to providing the most effective and minimally invasive therapies to patients so that they may avoid the disabling consequences of venous incompetence (dysfunction) and varicose veins that my father suffered.

I am excited to be able to offer the most effective and minimally invasive treatments available to my patients in a purpose built centre that is focused on optimal outcomes and patient comfort. Patients no longer need to fear the consequences of surgical treatment or untreated venous reflux.

Unfortunately my father was too late to benefit from the remarkable technological advances in vein treatment that I am now able to offer but I hope to spare many patients the discomfort and suffering of this disease that is often “overlooked” and misunderstood by lay public and medical profession alike.

  • University of Melbourne