Mercy's Dr. Alain Tanbe Discusses Treatment for Edema or Leg Swelling

August 20, 2018
The Vascular Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

Many women ignore edema or swollen legs, until they can't take it anymore. Most of the time, it's not serious, but it can be uncomfortable.

Until recently, Marika Franks would never show off her legs because she was embarrassed.

"(My legs were) very ugly. I had veins, like, my thumb size," Franks said.

You can't tell now, but she says her legs were swollen and felt heavy, causing her constant discomfort and even a lack of sleep.

"(My legs were) itchy (and) burning, like when something is swelling, you have the feeling, like, to crawl out of your skin," she said.

She lived with it for 30 years.

"A lot of women ignore it for many, many years. When they're fed up, this is when they show up," said vascular surgeon Dr. Alain Tanbe of The Vascular Center at Mercy.

According to Dr. Tanbe, it is a common problem and mostly affects women. An ultrasound can show a doctor what is wrong.

"The valves are supposed to close every half-second, and in her case, it basically took six seconds, so 12 times longer," Dr. Tanbe said.

It can be caused by a number of factors:
• Heredity
• Hormonal
• Pregnancy
• Prolonged standing or sitting

As for treatment, it can be simple Dr. Tanbe explained.

"It's just a needle, hall, and then we use the laser. We close the vein for the blood will be shifted into the main vein that they have," he said.

"Maybe it's for a moment painful, but only for a short moment, compared to suffering for many years," Franks said.

Franks is really happy with the results and just wishes she would have done the procedure sooner.

"I should have done it earlier. I should have done it when I realized something was wrong," Franks said.

View Dr. Alain Tanbe’s interview regarding edema or leg swelling.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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