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Gary’s Story: Varicoceles

30 Minute Minimally Invasive Procedure Enables Man Suffering from Painful Varicoceles to Return to Active, Pain-Free Lifestyle

In 2009, at the age of 33, Gary S. began experiencing severe discomfort in his left testicle. Despite his reluctance to seek medical attention, the pain led him to consult a urologist in Tampa. The diagnosis revealed a varicocele, a relatively common condition affecting approximately 10 percent of young men, typically during their second or third decade of life.

Varicoceles manifest as pain and swelling in the testicles, caused by tangled blood vessels and weak, defective valves in the scrotum, resulting in blood pooling. While some varicoceles may be asymptomatic and harmless, others can cause pain, testicular atrophy, or low sperm count, leading to fertility issues.

The urologist advised Gary that his varicocele wasn’t severe and recommended supportive underwear, advil, and ice as needed, dismissing the need for surgical or minimally invasive procedures in his case.

An avid runner, martial arts enthusiast, and triathlon participant, Gary had to abandon his active lifestyle due to unbearable pain. Working as a contractor in the Florida heat exacerbated his discomfort. In June 2014, determined to find a solution, Gary researched varicoceles and discovered Dr. William Julien, Medical Director at South Florida Vascular Associates (SFVA), known for performing varicocele embolization, a minimally invasive procedure.

Traditional varicocele surgery involves a urologist performing open surgery in a hospital, requiring general anesthesia, an incision above the scrotum, and suturing the testicular veins. Recovery can take two to three weeks. Gary, however, opted for varicocele embolization, a 30-minute outpatient procedure performed by Dr. Julien at SFVA. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into the femoral vein in the groin, guiding it to the varicocele using x-ray imaging, and sealing the varicocele with small metal coils and medication to slow blood flow.

Two weeks after varicocele embolization, Gary experienced a successful outcome. “The surgery was easy, and the staff at South Florida Vascular Associates is wonderful. I can finally enjoy my life again,” says Gary. Free from pain, he now takes long walks on the beach, has resumed an exercise routine, and is hopeful to return to running. Gary highly recommends this procedure to those suffering from testicular pain related to varicoceles, emphasizing the importance of seeking help sooner rather than later.