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Author: Texas Endovascuar

Do I Need Surgery to Fix my Varicose Veins?

When you have bulging, painful varicose veins, you want them gone. And you are likely wondering what treatment option will deliver you fast relief with few complications. As it turns out, researchers in the UK wondered the same thing. That’s why they conducted a study, comparing the results of surgical and non-surgical varicose vein treatments. And we’re guessing you’ll be pleased by what they discovered!

Surgical vs. Interventional Varicose Vein Treatments spider veins on legs

The CLASS (Comparison of Laser, Surgery and Foam Sclerotherapy) study look at two non-surgical treatments we provide in our Houston area vein clinics: Foam Sclerotherapy and Laser Ablation. It compared their long-term results with surgery. With sclerotherapy, we inject your abnormal vein with a substance that gradually causes its collapse. With ablation, we use bursts of laser light to collapse your vein. Both are minimally invasive procedures.

For this study, researchers followed 800 varicose vein patients treated between 2008 and 2012. At the end of five years, patients  answered questions about their quality of life, the financial cost and their willingness to recommend the treatment to others.

Almost all of participants were happy with their results. Nearly all participants reported feeling better after treatment. And most participants would undergo and recommend the same treatment again.

Researchers also discovered that ablation and surgery delivered slightly better results than sclerotherapy. They found ablation was the most cost-effective option. And, though it wasn’t mentioned in the study, here’s something vein specialists know: sclerotherapy and ablation come with less down time and fewer complications than surgery.

With these findings, the study—and our blog post—gets a happy ending. Even though many people get varicose vein surgery, you don’t have to. And that’s because non-surgical treatments deliver great results: at a lower cost and, typically, without hospital stays!

Sources: The New England Journal of Medicine

Three Easy Ways to Improve Blood Circulation

So many conditions can affect your blood’s ability to circulate through your body. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), chronic venous disease (CVD) and even varicose veins can all make it harder for blood to flow into or out of certain areas of your body, especially your lower extremities. That’s the bad news, but here’s some good: there are things you can do to improve that circulation. And, in this post, we’ll share our three favorites. But first, let’s help you figure out if compromised circulation may be affecting your health.

Symptoms of Poor Circulation

No matter what condition impacts your circulation, you will likely experience: pain, tingling, numbness and muscle cramps. Any of these symptoms should send you to see your vein doctor, so you can be scanned for conditions that may be affecting your blood flow. Once the cause of your circulatory problems has been diagnosed, your doctor may recommend one of the following therapies to improve your blood flow.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Changes in temperature can improve blood circulation. When trying cold changes, we can apply ice packs, cold sprays or even an ice massage. Cooling the area with poor blood flow initially constricts blood vessels in the area; when they warm up and dilate gain, blood flow to the area improves. A direct application of hot packs or other warming devices dilates your blood vessels, improving blood flow in the same manner as the after-effects of cold therapy.

Compression Therapy

Compression stockings improve circulation by putting pressure on your leg. That pressure helps push blood from the bottom of your legs into the deep venous system. And that helps blood return to your heart, helping mitigate symptoms of poor circulation. Even more importantly, compression therapy can reduce or eliminate edema (swelling that occurs in your legs, ankles or feet) and can help reduce the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a potentially deadly condition that often develops without any warning signs.)

Exercise

When you exercise, your muscles become stronger. And when your muscles are stronger, they are better able to help pump blood back to your heart.  For this reason, any weight-bearing exercise that your doctor approves can help improve your circulation. Aerobic exercise also improves your circulation—walking is a great option because it is low impact. Exercising in the pool packs a double whammy, because your body is able to feel lighter and move longer when you are floating in the water.

Improving circulation will help manage the symptoms of decreased circulation, but if you want lasting relief, you will need to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms. So, if you have leg cramps, tingling or other symptoms of decreased blood flow, come see one of our Houston area vein specialists to discuss your treatment options.

What is Claudication and Why Would I Have it?

Claudication is the medical term that describes muscle pain, cramps and/or a heavy tired feeling in your legs. The pain may radiate to your hips, feet or buttocks. It occurs with movement and disappears with rest, and is usually a result of reduced blood flow to your lower limbs. For this reason, claudication is a common symptom of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.)

 

How Does Claudication Progress?

Without treating the underlying cause of your claudication, symptoms and flare ups will get worse over time. In the early stages of claudication, symptoms may also include:

·         aching

·         burning

·         heaviness

At first, claudication causes a dull, aching pain in the lower calf. The initial pain or sensation can also travel to, or develop in, other muscle groups, such as:

·         thigh

·         buttock

·         hip

·         feet

These symptoms usually appear with muscle movement, like walking or exercise, and resolve with a few minutes of rest. If, however, people continue exercising through the pain of claudication, they may experience:

·         numbness

·         severe cramps

·         difficulty walking

·         soft tissue damage

·         cold skin

Usually, claudication only affects one leg; if it impacts both, symptoms are usually worse in one leg than the other. Over time, these symptoms typically become more severe. The only way to improve your condition is to treat the underlying cause.

Treating Claudication and PAD

At Texas Endovascular, treating PAD with state of the art, minimally invasive procedures. Most of our treatments— which include Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy–don’t require an overnight hospital stay. Using these methods, we prevent the need for surgery in most cases, often allowing our patients to go home the same day as their procedure.

During your procedure, one of our Houston area vein specialists will insert a small IV and wire through your groin,  gaining access to a blood vessel. From there, we use imaging to guide that wire into a position where it can impact your affected artery. Depending on the progression of your PAD, we will use a balloon to widen the blood vessel (angioplasty) or a stent to hold it open; both options will increase blood flow to your lower extremities, and should relieve your claudication symptoms.

 

 

This is What Happens to Veins as you Age

Want to hear a scary statistic? By the time they turn 60, up to 20% of Americans develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition that affects blood flow to your lower limbs. Also, at the time when they turn 40, 20 % of American men and 40% of American women have some sort of problem with their leg veins. So, what do these numbers add up to?

The older you get, the more likely you are to develop some type of vein or arterial disease. Which means you really need to understand the variety of conditions that can affect your vein, and start exploring your treatment options—before problems start developing!

What causes PAD and vein disease? 

PAD is most often a result of atherosclerosis, a slow process during which a fatty material (plaque) builds up in your arteries, reducing blood flow. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increase your PAD risk, but so does age. In fact, passing the 50 year mark, and having a family history of PAD, heart disease or stroke, are two key risk factors for this dangerous condition.

Symptoms of PAD include:

Muscle pain, leg cramps, or heaviness when walking (this typically resolves after a few minutes of rest.)

·        Calf pain

·        Numbness or weakness

·        Pain in your buttocks

·        Cold legs and feet

·        Leg and/or foot ulcers

·        Hair loss or slower hair growth

 

Now, let’s take a look at chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition occurs when the valves of your leg veins stop working well, making it harder for blood to flow up to your heart. Instead, that blood can pool up in your legs, leaving you with symptoms like bulging, noticeable varicose veins.

Other symptoms include:

·        Sore, tired, restless and/or heavy legs

·        Pain or fatigue

·        Blood clots, especially Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

·        Leg, foot or ankle swelling (edema)

·        Hard, thickened skin

·        Changes in skin color

 

While PAD and CVI can strike anyone, at any time, the older you are, the higher your risk of developing either condition. So, if you’ve noticed a change in the way your legs feel, and your 40th birthday has passed, it’s a good idea to schedule a diagnostic ultrasound to rule out or diagnose a developing vein or arterial condition.

4 Reasons Why Fall is Varicose Vein Treatment Season

It may not have cooled down that much outside, but the fall is here. And, with its arrival comes a new item to put on your to-do list: treat those varicose veins! Here are the top four reasons why fall is the right time to treat those bulging, twisted signs of venous insufficiency.

Why is Fall a Great Time to Treat Spider Veins?

1. You have more time Varicose Veins Exercise

Between the constant activity and summer break and the holidays, fall is the perfect time to follow post-treatment restriction on exercise and strenuous movement. Sending the kids to school each day can also allow you the opportunity to lie down and put your legs up following treatment.

2. Insurance is easier

By the time fall comes around, many people have already met most or all of their insurance deductibles. But, October and November is not so late in the calendar year that you won’t have time to secure a vein treatment pre-authorization, if that’s what your insurance carrier requires. And our Houston vein specialists accept most insurance plans, so you should be in the clear by this time of year.

3. The clothing and compression won’t be as much of a problem.

After spider-vein treatment, you will likely need to wear compression stockings for up to a month to minimize any bruising, pain or swelling and to help improve blood flow in your legs. It’s a lot more comfortable to wear these stockings after the heat of summer has passed, especially if you also want to cover them up with long pants.

4. The sun is less prominent

Did you know that UV rays can contribute to the development of varicose veins? And, even after undergoing treatment, sun exposure can slow down your recovery process or cause the skin in your healing legs to become discolored? That’s why you will need to avoid direct sun exposure for up to a month following vein treatment, and it’s why the fall is a much smarter time to begin the vein-treatment process.

 

What is Interventional Radiology?

So often, we get asked about our medical specialty: what does it mean to be an interventional radiologist? At the most basic level, it means we provide treat a range of medical conditions, from spider veins to peripheral arterial disease, and more, with minimally invasive techniques.

The doctors at our Houston area vein clinics attended four years of medical school. Next, they completed four-year  diagnostic radiology residencies and Interventional Radiology fellowships.

Our goal as interventional radiologists is to offer less expensive, less invasive alternative to surgery. And our procedures come with shorter recovery periods, less pain and lower risks of complications.

But what does an interventional radiology procedure look like? Let’s take a closer look.

How does an IR procedure work?

During an IR procedure, your interventional radiologist is guided by an image, such as that from an ultrasound. This gives us a live picture of less accessible parts of your body. Making just a small incision, we guide that image to  the remote location in your body using a catheter. And that’s why your treatments don’t require major surgical incisions!

Interventional radiology procedures include:

And so much more!

 

Interventional Radiology vs. Surgery: What’s the Benefit?

As we mentioned, IR procedures hurt less than surgeries. They are less likely to leave a scar and, thanks to image guidance, are often more precise than surgical procedures.

Many times, they can be performed with no overnight hospital stays. And no hospital stay means less out-of-pocket expenses for most patients!

So, does less pain, less cost, less risk and more accuracy sounds like what you’re looking for in a vein treatment? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Simply schedule a consultation with one of our highly trained Interventional Radiologists to learn if you are a good candidate for our treatment protocols.

What are Compression Socks Used For?

When you imagine compression socks, some unattractive images come to mind. But, these days, there are many styles of compression socks. And, more importantly they support your vein health in a many ways. Let’s take a closer look at the real deal with compression socks.

Who are Compression Socks Designed For?

So many people can benefit from wearing compression socks. People who frequently travel by airplane; pregnant women; people with varicose veins; individuals who must stay on their feet all day for work…even runners looking to boost their performance may be helped by wearing these socks.

For most people, compression socks help improve circulation to fight vascular conditions like lymphedema, varicose veins and/or chronic venous insufficiency. But some athletes choose to wear compression socks, even without experiencing vascular issues, because they can help prevent swelling in the lower limbs. Wearing compression socks can also speed up recover time after a hard training session thanks to the boost they give your blood flow.

How Do Compression Socks Work Their Magic?

Compression socks are made from stretchy, snug fabric designed to squeeze your legs and ankles tightly. That squeezing action works with the muscles in your calves to keep blood pumping out of your lower extremities and back up to your heart,  improving blood circulation, and cutting back on pooling blood and potential swelling.

Different styles of socks deliver different pressure—and different results—to your body. They come in different lengths, meaning shorter styles will have less of an impact on your legs. They are deliver varying degrees of pressure, measured in mmHg. If your vein doctor has recommended compression socks, it’s important to sit down and discuss the style, length and mmHg levels that your specific condition requires.

Do you have questions about how compression socks can benefit your vascular health? Just schedule a consultation with one of our Houston area vein specialists!

Check Out the New Tech Fighting Leg Ulcers

An Irish start-up company, called FeelTect, has received a special grant to continue developing the ‘Tight Alright’ technology for a medical device designed to sense pressure and treat venous leg ulcers. To understand why and how it will work, we must first explore what causes venous leg ulcers.

What are Venous Leg Ulcers and Why Do They Form?

person wearing compression stockings
In conjunction with compression therapy, this new technology could help speed up the healing of ulcers

Venous leg ulcers are chronic wounds that develop because of venous insufficiency, a condition in which your body cannot circulate blood from your lower limbs. Venous insufficiency sets in when tiny valves in your veins stop working well. Instead of forcing blood back up towards the heart, blood pools up in your legs. Your veins then get stretched out and fluid builds up in your lower limbs.

You may be at risk for venous leg ulcers if you:

  • Have an increased body mass index (BMI)
  • Have a sedentary lifestyle
  • Have high blood pressure,
  • Have venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and/or a family history of these conditions.

Treating Venous Leg Ulcers

One of the first treatments for these kinds of ulcers is compression therapy. The pressure placed on the veins in your lower legs can help get pooling blood out of the area, taking the pressure off your bulging veins and making the excess fluid less likely to contribute to existing ulcers, or to allow new ones to develop.

Still compression therapy isn’t perfect. If doctors apply too much pressure, it can cut off all circulation to your limbs. Not enough pressure, and the treatment will be wholly ineffective. And, since compression devices cover the area being treated, it can be tough for doctors to determine just how much pressure is being delivered to your veins.

The Tight Alright device is intended to work in conjunction with compression therapy. Using wireless technology, the device measures and monitors the amount of pressure being delivered to your leg beneath the compression bandages.

When vein specialists are armed with this kind of information, they can easily adjust compression bandages to appropriate levels, keeping you safe while speeding up your healing times. As vein specialists in the Houston area, we will be watching this and other developing technology, so we can always deliver the most up-to-date care for all our patients who are living with vein disease.

Sources: Feeltect.com

Move it Monday: Hot Workouts to Prevent Vein Disease

There are so many reasons why you develop varicose and spider veins. In fact, your genes may be upping your risk!  Even so, you can be proactive about prevention. Just a few simple lifestyle changes can go a long way towards  preventing these veins from developing. Whether you are starting to see the early signs of varicose or spider veins, or you hope to prevent them altogether, certain workouts can promote healthy veins. Why not make these last few weeks of summer your time to sweat some vein-preventing workouts (and show off those healthy legs with pride!)

 

workouts to prevent veinsWalking workouts for your veins

Taking a walk or hike is one of the best ways to give your legs a workout and improve circulation in your legs. Walking is a great low-impact exercise that can strengthen your calf muscles and minimize spider or varicose veins.

Try talking a stroll through your neighborhood, find a nearby greenway to walk on, or plan a hike. If you’re wanting a more rigorous workout, a run will also improve circulation and get more blood returning to your heart, which can help prevent varicose veins.

Ride your bike to smoother legs

Riding a bike is another exercise that works out your legs and promotes healthy veins. Bonus? It doesn’t put too much stress on your joints, and as you pedal, your calf muscles flex, giving your veins a rest and helping circulate blood back to the heart.

You can ride a stationary bike, a regular bike, or just mimic the pedaling motion while lying on the floor, and still improve your vein health.

Try Swimming or Water Aerobics

The buoyancy of water means that swimming and water aerobics don’t put stress on your joints while still providing cardiovascular benefits. The water resistance will also help workout your leg muscles even more and improve circulation.

Try swimming laps at a pool, join a nearby organization that offers water aerobics classes, or go for a swim at a lake or beach.

Preventing Varicose Veins

Risk factors that increase your chance of suffering from vein disease include:

  • If your family has a history of vein disease
  • If you are over 45
  • If you are a woman
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are overweight
  • If you sit for the majority of the day or stand for the majority of the day

If any of these apply, you’ll want to get started on a vein-healthy workout routine. Make sure to discuss any changes in your activity routine with a doctor before starting a new exercise program!

Sources: nyulangone.org