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VARICOSE VEINS AND OTHER VEIN PROBLEM

THE PHYSICIANS AT VASCULAR HEALTH CENTER OFFER A WIDE RANGE OF TREATMENTS FOR VEIN PROBLEMS.  We perform sclerotherapy, phlebectomy, and the CLOSURE PROCEDURE in the office setting.  We have a specialized suite where the procedure is performed.  The patient is allowed to go home, attended by a friend or family member, after comfortably recovering from the procedure.  Minimal discomfort is experienced by the patient during or after the procedure.  The patient is encouraged to rest the remainder of the day, and in most cases, is allowed to return to work in 1 or 2 days.

Venous disease is ten times more common than is arterial disease.  More than 60% of women and 40% of men suffer form some form of vein disease.  Greater than 40% of all women will suffer from abnormal leg veins by the time they are in their fifties.

The function of veins is to return blood to the heart, whereas, arteries carry blood from the heart to the body parts and organs.  The veins have one-way valves to prevent the blood from flowing backwards, as they carry the blood back to the heart.  If a one-way valve weakens or is injured, the blood will begin to backflow and collect in the dependent portion of the veins.  This congests and clogs the veins, eventually leading to enlargement of the vessel; thereby leading to varicose veins, spider veins, and venous insufficiency.  Pain and swelling of the legs are common symptoms.

 Varicose veins are often dark purple or blue in coloration, and they look like bulging cords and can be very twisted in appearance.  They are commonly seen on the legs, typically, in the back of the calves and on the thighs. The legs are a common site because they endure the most pressure secondary to the force of gravity or increased body weight.  Spider veins (also known as telangiectasias)  are smaller and blue or red in color.  They are close to the surface of the skin and look like spider’s webs or small tree branch patterns.  Spider veins can be found on the face and legs.  They occur on the cheeks and nose from sun exposure, usually in a fair-skinned individual.

 Several factors cause varicose veins and spider veins to occur in people, women more so than men.  Heredity, being born with weak vein valves, is a significant factor.  Hormones are a factor, as well, causing weakness of the vein wall and valves.  Hormonal changes occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.  Taking estrogen or progesterone supplement or birth control pills can cause women to develop vein disease. 

Pregnancy not only boasts increased hormone levels, but there is also an increase in blood volume which can enlarge the veins.  The enlarged uterus also puts pressure on the veins, therefore, the veins engorge with blood and dilate.  This will weaken the vein and damage the vein valves.

Advancing age is also noted to be a factor in vein disease.  Indeed, vein problems correlate significantly with increased age, with a significant number of people having vein disease by the time they are sixty years old.

Obesity, leg injury, and prolonged standing, such as for long hours on the job, are also factors leading to vein problems. 

Vein problems are progressive if not treated appropriately.  They can cause the legs and feet to swell and be painful.  Leg muscles commonly feel fatigued or heavy, and may throb and cramp at nighttime.  The skin can itch or burn.  If left untreated, the leg swelling can lead to skin injury.  The skin tissue may not receive enough nourishment and sores or skin ulcers will develop.  At this stage, it may become very difficult to heal the sores, requiring multiple medical office or hospital visits.  These sores can become infected, a condition  called cellulitis.  This condition requires aggressive antibiotic treatment and wound care.

Rarely, clotting of the varicose vein may occur, leading to the condition of deep venous thrombosis.  This clot can be dangerous if it travels from the vein to the heart and lungs, thereby blocking the heart and lungs from functioning correctly.

PREVENTION OF VARICOSE VEINS AND SPIDER VEINS

1.      Protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen.

2.      Exercise regularly.  This improves leg strenth, circulation, and vein strength.

3.      Control you weight.  This prevents too much pressure on your legs.

4.      Do not cross your legs when sitting.

5.      Try to elevate your legs when resting.

6.      Try not to stand for long periods of time.

7.      If you sit for long periods of time, stand up and move around, take a short walk approximately every 30 minutes.

8.      Wear elastic support stockings (either store bought or prescribed by your physician).

9.      Avoid clothing that is too tight or constricts the waist, groin, or legs.

10. Include high-fiber foods in your diet.  Constipation can contribute to varicose veins.

11. Control your salt intake.  Salt, or sodium, can cause you to retain water and swell.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO SEE YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR OR A VASCULAR SURGEON IF YOU HAVE LEG OR VEIN PROBLEMS.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR VARICOSE VEINS AND VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY:

1.      Sclerotherapy – commonly used for spider veins and small varicose veins.   This involves injecting a solution into the vein, causing the vein walls to stick together, thereby causing the vein to turn into scar tissue and disappear.  Patients can expect a 50% to 90% improvement.

2.      Laser surgery – can also be used on the skin to treat spider veins, either on the face or the legs.  Laser sends strong bursts of light onto the vein that makes the vein slowly fade and disappear.

3.      Surgical ligation and stripping – the veins are tied shut and/or completely removed from the leg by a vascular surgeon.  This does not affect the circulation, since the veins removed are superficial or damaged surface veins.  This is a invasive and sometimes painful procedure.

4.      Closure technique – this is a new procedure approved in March 1999.  This technique is less invasive and can be done in the doctor’s office.  This involves placing a special catheter or small tube in the vein.  The catheter sends radiofrequency energy to cause the vein wall to shrink and seal shut.  The vein then becomes scar tissue, and the healthier veins remaining will restore normal blood flow back to the heart.  The only side effect is slight bruising.  The symptoms of the varicose veins are almost immediately relieved after the procedure.

For more information on varicose veins and vein disease, please visit the web site www.4woman.org


Treatment Options
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Sclerotherapy

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Laser surgery

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Surgical ligation and stripping

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Closure technique

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