Veins become mother lode - East Valley Tribune: Business

Veins become mother lode

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Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2007 7:04 am | Updated: 7:42 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Morrison Vein Institute in Tempe and Scottsdale is drawing state, national and international attention.

It’s also becoming the busiest and among the most financially profitable vein treatment clinics in the world, thanks to its co-founder, Nick Morrison, 60, a surgeon who, with his wife, Terri, a registered nurse, opened the facility in 1996.

“When we heard about the new vein treatment procedures we immediately knew our future direction,” said Morrison, a native of Spokane, Wash., who earned his medical degree at Creighton Medical School in Omaha, Nebraska.

At the time, the Morrisons, who started their medical practice in the Valley in 1972, had been treating and serving patients at their new institute using traditional medical procedures.

Then the new procedure made its debut in 1999.

It virtually eliminated the need to surgically remove afflicted veins and, instead, offered patients a painless and quicker treatment — basically shrinking and dissolving the damaged veins by injections and using ultrasound, laser beams and other non-invasive methods.

It also reduced recovery time from weeks to a few hours.

“The old method of cutting through the skin and ripping out the vein was barbaric,” said Morrison, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the treatment of venous diseases.

The new method, he said, is quicker and eliminates the need for hospital surgery rooms. Patients can have the procedure done at either of the institute facilities at the Tempe Corporate Center at 4515 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe or the Scottsdale clinic at 8575 E. Princess Drive.

They may have to make several visits to the clinic before they finish treatment, including a diagnostic examination at CompuDiagnostics, a company with several Valley locations that uses the latest in high-tech equipment to analyze vein ailments.

The Tempe clinic, meanwhile, was the first of its kind in the Southwest.

The couple, who have been married for 35 years and have three grown children and one grandchild, opened the clinic nearly 12 years ago with two employees. The first year they treated 80 patients and earned about $100,000 in gross revenues.

Today, they have 23 employees, including two other physicians, and are earning upward of $5 million annually. They treat more than 1,800 new patients each year and, since they started, have served more than 60,000 patients.

The Scottsdale facility opened in 1998.

Morrison said he expects the number of patients seeking treatment to continue to grow, including those referred by other physicians.

“But we’re just scratching the surface,” said Morrison, who has become a sought-after speaker by medical groups around the world. “Yes, the world market for the new treatment is growing but there is still a need in many countries, especially Third World nations.”

He recently addressed the annual meeting of the British Association of Sclerotherapists in Ashbridge, England and also spoke about his institute and the treatment in conferences in Italy, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, South America and the United States.

The Morrisons created a nonprofit charity, Amigos de Salud, (Friends of Health) that each year provides volunteer physicians, nurses and technicians, including themselves, and medical supplies to Latin American countries.

Patients with vein problems, such as varicose veins in the legs and smaller “spider veins,” travel to the Valley from throughout the nation and foreign countries for treatment, said Morrison.

Meanwhile, the demand for trained physicians resulted in the couple in 2005 opening the Morrison Training Institute, the first of its kind in the nation. Thus far, more than 500 physicians, nurses and ultrasound technicians have completed the training course which focuses not only on the method but also on how to open and operate a vein treatment center.

Dr. Nick Morrison.

Age: 60.

Home: Tempe.

Family: Wife, Terri; children, Kelly Lorenzen; Briana Morrison and Patrick Morrison; grandson, Joshua Lorenzen.

Company: Morrison Vein Institute at the Tempe Corporate Center at 4515 S. McClintock Drive Suite 101 and in Scottsdale at 8575 E. Princess Drive, Suite 223.

Key achievements: In 1996, Dr. Nick Morrison, a surgeon and his wife, Terri, a registered nurse, together co-founded the Morrison Vein Institute in Tempe and Scottsdale that has attracted international attention and has resulted in a relatively new vein treatment given to more than 60,000 patients. The institute when initially opened produced about $100,000 in gross revenue and has since increased to $5 million annually. Each year, the institute treats an average of 1,800 new patients.

The Morrisons also created the Morrison Training Institute that, to date, has instructed 500 physicians, nurses and technicians. Philosophy for success: “Treat people fairly” — Dr. Nick Morrison. Information: (480) 860-6455 (Scottsdale) or (480) 775-8460 (Tempe) or

Three basic modern treatments for varicose veins instead of using the old-fashioned surgical removal of afflicted veins:

VNUS Closure™

This procedure is an FDA-approved alternative to the traditional and invasive vein stripping surgery. During the VNUS Closure™, a thin catheter is guided, using ultrasound into the saphenous vein through a tiny opening. The catheter then delivers radio frequency (RF) energy directly to the wall of the damaged vein. As the catheter is removed, the damaged vein is heated and seals shut. Unlike vein stripping, this outpatient treatment is quick and virtually pain-free. Most patients return to normal activity within a few days.

Endovenous laser ablation

Using ultrasound technology, a thin laser fiber is guided into the vein through a very small opening to deliver pulsed laser heat to the diseased vein wall. This causes the vein to close, and eliminates venous reflux at its source.

Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy

This technique uses ultrasound technology to guide the precise placement of injections needed to treat larger varicosities. It is extremely effective because the solution is delivered to the exact source of venous reflux. Source: Morrison Vein Institute

Vein statistics

• 50 percent of women over age 50 and 60 percent over age 60 have vein disorders

• If untreated, vein disorders are likely to get worse

• A new technique for the treatment of vein disorders began in 1999 and virtually eliminated the need to surgically remove afflicted veins. The Morrison Vein Institute was the first in the southwestern United States to use the minimally invasive treatment

• Patients now can resume their normal lifestyles a few hours after treatment whereas the old method required weeks of recovery Source: Morrison Vein Institute


Q: What can I do to prevent varicose veins?

A: While you cannot entirely prevent varicose veins, there are quite a few ways to improve your vein health. Physical activity, such as walking, swimming or cycling, is a wonderful way to pump blood up the leg against gravity to improve circulation. Compression hose also help improve circulation by preventing blood from pooling in the leg veins.

Q: Is the use of hot tubs good for my veins?

A: Following a hot bath, you are more likely to feel uncomfortable, not relieved of symptoms. That’s because exposure to heat causes veins to dilate and become larger. In order to maintain venous function, vein size needs to remain consistent.

Q: Why do I have to wear compression hose?

A: The addition of compression hose is regarded by many vein specialists as one of the most important advances in the treatment of venous disease. Compression hose have been proven effective when used for preventive care, during treatment, and for long-term therapy after treatment.

Graduated compression prevents blood from pooling in the leg veins, thereby helping overall circulation.

Q: Where do spider veins come from?

A: Spider veins may be triggered by pregnancy or hormonal variations and sometimes result in itching, restless leg and minor aches and pains. Although surface veins are mainly a cosmetic problem, they can also be an indication of more serious vein disease deep below the surface.

Q: What causes varicose veins?

A: The actual cause of varicose veins is inefficient, faulty vein valves. These valves don’t close properly, allowing blood to leak back with gravity and pool in the vein. This causes the veins to bulge and stretch and result in many unpleasant side effects such as aching and throbbing pain, heavy and tired legs, and poor circulation.

Q: Are varicose veins hereditary?

A: Heredity is a primary factor in over 80 percent of varicose vein cases. Other contributing factors may include pregnancy, obesity, hormone therapy, standing or sitting for long periods of time and injury. Source: Morrison Vein Institute

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