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Category: Spider Veins

Keep the Spiders off Your Legs this Halloween

Trick or treat, everyone! Is your front porch decked out with ghosts, goblins, cobwebs and pumpkins? Is your yard lined with bones and gravestones? If so, we applaud your Halloween spirit!

But what about your legs? Are spider veins making them look more like a Halloween costume than you’d like? That’s the kind of creepy look we’re guessing you don’t want to show off this holiday season. But don’t worry: you’re not alone.

Spider Veins a major problem for Americans

Data suggests that as many as 60% of adults in this country have spider or varicose veins. Spider veins are tiny, dilated veins that are visible on the surface of your skin. When you look for them, they are red or blue, and are typically found on your legs or face. They may form in patterns that look like spider webs, and they are very visible because they are closer to the skin than normal veins. On the other hand, varicose veins, while similar and often confused with spider veins, are much larger and look like bulging or twisting rope.

Spider veins are, for the most part, a cosmetic concern. Treating them is important for self-esteem, and to prevent the progression of any underlying vein condition. But varicose veins are a more serious symptom. Treating them will be important for your ongoing, overall vein health.

How do you treat spider and varicose veins?

At our Houston area vein clinics, we treat spider veins with sclerotherapy, the most common form of treatment for this condition. The process involves injecting you with a solution that will cause the lining of your blood vessel to collapse and stick together. The blood then begins to clot, and the vessel turns to scar tissue over time. This makes the veins invisible from the surface of your skin.

In some instances, we may seal your spider veins with a catheter or laser. In these cases, heat is used to seal the vein. This also results in scar tissue formation, which will gradually become less noticeable over time.

If you are spooked by your spider veins right now, don’t wait until next Halloween to do something about it. Instead, treat yourself (and your veins) so you can show off those legs with pride in any costume of your choosing!

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

Will High Heels Give me Spider Veins?

So many women have closets packed with high heels. Let’s face it, stilettos can be great–they make your legs look longer, they give you extra inches, and they add a stylish finish to almost any outfit.

That’s the good news about high heels…but here’s the not-so-good news. While wearing high heels won’t directly cause you to develop varicose veins, they can contribute to this problem by affecting blood flow in your veins. And, not surprisingly, the higher the heels, the bigger the negative impact on your vein health.

What Are Varicose Veins?

To understand the connection between high heels and varicose veins, we must first understand this problem and why it happens.

Over 25 million Americans have varicose veins. Some people will recognize the problem right away, thanks to visible symptoms like bulging veins or brightly colored veins that are visible on the skin’s surface.

Some symptoms of varicose veins are less obvious:  heaviness, aching, swelling, tiredness, burning, stinging, and leg cramps are all signs that you may have a problem. Other symptoms, like swollen legs, changes in your skin and even ulcers are also symptoms of spider veins, but they can often be mistaken for other conditions.

Varicose veins are a faulty part of the venous system, which is just a group of pipes, pumps, and valves in your body. Veins are ‘pipes’ for blood. Valves are like stop signs that keep the blood flowing in the right direction–either up to your heart or away from your heart to your other body parts.

When any part of your venous system stops doing its job properly, blood can begin to pool in your veins, causing them to stretch and bulge. That’s when you may notice symptoms of varicose veins.

High Heels and Blood Flow

When you walk, blood starts pumping in your foot and calf. Blood starts moving up the veins in your legs. Valves help that blood fight gravity and keep flowing up towards your heart.

Of course, that’s the case when your’re walking normally.  When you stride wearing basic, supportive shoes, your foot and calf work together. Veins in your foot fill it with blood as it lifts off the floor. When your heel and arch land back on the floor, that blood starts flowing into the relaxed veins in your calf. Once there, your calf muscles get to work, pushing blood into the deep veins in your legs.

High heels are a game changer in this system because of the way they affect your stride. When you’re rocking those three-inch stilettos, your heel never touches the ground. All your weight stays in your toes and the balls of your feet. Plus, because of the angle of your body, your calf muscles never get the chance to relax when you’re in heels.

The result of these stride changes is fairly significant. Your foot gets less filled with blood; your calf muscles are less effective when they try to pump blood up to your heart. The decreased pump strength can leave some blood behind in your legs, allowing it to build up and pool in your veins. When this happens, your vein health may suffer.

Preventing Spider Veins 

While no one expects you to give up high heels completely, there are steps you can take to limit the damage to your veins:

  1. Save those stilettos for short events and special occasions.
  2. Stick to heels that are no more than three inches (and shorter is even better).
  3. If you’re going to be in heels for a while, consider throwing on a pair of compression stockings.
  4. Strengthen your calf muscles once the heels come off by sneaking in a few sets of heel raises.
  5. Check in with your Houston vein specialist if you start noticing any of the spider vein symptoms we discussed above.

 

While high heels don’t directly cause spider veins, they may create an environment that compromises your overall vein health. If you already have spider veins, or have a family history of vein disease, keeping a close watch on your shoe closet is a very good idea.

 

Sources: New York Times

This is Why you Treat Varicose Veins Quickly

We all know that varicose veins are an unsightly problem that, if left untreated, may cause pain or discomfort. But Reasons for a Vein Evaluationdid you know that leaving your varicose veins untreated can cause you to develop varicose veins in other areas of your body? Unfortunately, it’s true!

According to a study published in The Journal of Venous Disease, untreated varicose veins in the pelvis can cause women and men to develop the problem in their legs. Previously, the connection between pelvic and leg varicose veins was only established for women. With this new research, however, it becomes clear that men are also at risk.

Treat Problem Veins at their Root

Because 20% of women with varicose veins in their legs also have pelvic varicose veins, vein doctors now strongly recommend treating the pelvic veins before doing anything about women’s legs. Now, men who have testicular varicose veins will be told the same thing: treat your pelvic veins before addressing any problems in your legs. If the legs are treated first, it is highly likely that the varicose veins will reappear.

What does this mean for male patients with varicose veins? Let’s look at how this finding should effect treatment protocols.

A New Approach to Varicose Veins

Leg veins are pretty easy to examine and treat, because they are usually right near the surface of your body. That makes it easy to spot any problems, usually with a simple ultrasound. Pelvic veins, especially in men, are much harder to spot, because they are buried deep within your body.

While full vein scans are not necessary for every patient experiencing varicose veins, looking beyond the legs may be crucial for treating some individuals–especially men and women with recurring problems. In other words, if the varicose veins in your legs keep coming back after treatment, you may have to look beyond the valves and veins in your trunk. According to the new evidence, a pelvic vein scan may be the only way to stop your varicose veins from coming back!

In our Houston vein clinic, we are prepared to offer comprehensive vein scans. With a careful examination, Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee will get to the root cause of your varicose veins. They will treat you appropriately to prevent your problem from becoming a repeat offender. If you can’t seem to get rid of your varicose veins, and you want to solve the problem for good, contact our office for an immediate consultation.

Sources: Phlebology: Journal of Venous Diseases, https://journals.sagepub.com

8 Tips for Coping with Spider Veins

If you have spider veins, you’re not alone: they’re a very common condition, especially among women who are or have been pregnant or are over the age of 50. Just because they’re common, however, doesn’t mean they can’t be treated! In our Texas Endovascular practice, we offer several different treatment plans for your spider or varicose veins, all of them being minimally invasive and performed as outpatient procedures! And, while you’re discussing with your doctor what treatment option is best for you, here are 8 tips to follow that can keep your condition from getting worse!

Hacks to Help with Spider Veins

Frequent exercise, like taking walks, can help improve the appearance of spider veins
  1. Stay Active! Regular exercise can improve blood circulation in your legs, while also lowering your blood pressure (another factor that could improve varicose veins.) Not sure where to start? Check out our weekly Move it Monday blog posts for exercise inspiration!
  2. Rock Your Socks! Tight (compression) socks or stockings apply pressure to your lower legs, potentially helping to improve blood flow to the area.
  3. But…Skip the Stilettos. High heels keep your calf muscles engaged, reducing the amount of blood that flows into the veins of your foot and calf. It also reduces the amount of force going to push blood into those veins, meaning blood can begin to pool and form new or worsen existing spider veins.
  4. Skip the Salt, too. Salty foods can cause your body to retain water and swell up; while you’re swelling, those bulging varicose veins may worsen.
  5. Up Your Fiber Intake. Fiber is good for your heart health, and improved heart health equals better blood flow throughout the body.
  6. Embrace Massage. Gently massaging your legs can help stimulate blood flow to the area, but don’t apply direct pressure to bulging veins as the delicate tissue may be damaged.
  7. Take a Stand. Sitting for extended periods of time, whether at home, at work, or on a plane, allows blood to pool in your legs. Take frequent walking breaks to avoid this issue.
  8. Drop a Few: Extra pounds on your frame puts extra pressure on your legs, so maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the appearance of spider veins!

Sources: mayoclinic.org, medicalnewstoday.com

Will Crossing My Legs Cause Spider Veins?

It’s time to fess up: how many times a day do you look down and realize your legs are crossed? Are you doing it right now? We’ve likely all heard that crossing your legs can be problematic, but do you know why? Or how long it takes for vein damage to set in? Here’s the low down on leg crossing:

The Problem with Crossing Your Legs

While there hasn’t been any conclusive proof to date, there seems to be a definite connection between crossing your legs and the appearance of varicose veins. The connection seems to be a result of pressure: varicose veins tend to develop when veins are over-tasked, and resting one leg on the other can restrict blood flow, causing extra blood to pool and stretch out the over-worked veins.

Of course, crossing your legs is just one piece of the varicose vein puzzle: even without assuming this position, extended periods of sitting can cause problems in your veins. After all, when you sit for a long time (like all day at a desk or for hours on a long flight) blood can pool in your legs, making it harder to flow back up to your heart. Once again, situations like these can compromise your veins and allow for the unsightly bulging of varicose veins.

Managing the Impact

Try telling someone not to think of a pink elephant, and that’s immediately what pops into their minds, right? The same can be said of trying to break a leg-crossing habit: for many of us, especially for skirt-wearing women, this seated position is just second nature.

So, if you can’t stop crossing, how can you protect your vein health?

First of all, set up your desk to make it more conducive to healthy sitting habits. Adjust your seat height so both feet can rest comfortable on the floor without restricting access to your keyboard or other desk items.

Next, limit the amount of time you spend in any one position, whether it’s flat-footed or cross-legged sitting, or even standing in one spot. If you’re able, take brief walking breaks every 20-30 minutes to take the toll off your veins—and your back. Even a few minutes of walking, spread throughout the day, will go a long way towards staving off many of the problems associated with sitting, including the appearance of varicose veins.

But what if your job doesn’t allow you to just get up and walk around? Not to worry, you can still keep your veins flowing freely. Consider subtle desk stretches, like reaching down to touch your toes or swiveling your feet and ankles in circles. Even simple movements like these, done frequently throughout the day, can help prevent blood from pooling in your feet and legs.

Now, getting back to our original question: does leg crossing hurt your veins? While we can’t conclusively answer, “yes,” we can certainly say, “maybe.” As Houston vein doctors, we hope that likely causation will be enough motivation to keep you uncrossed and moving around throughout the day. Your back, heart and, most likely, your veins will all be happy you did!

Sources: Healthline.com, womenshealthmag.com

Got Spider Veins? Hit the (Cold) Showers!

If the thought of an icy cold shower is unappealing, we get it. Frigid water hitting your body isn’t exactly relaxing. But as it turns out, an icy-cold shower may be just what the doctor ordered if you want to prevent varicose veins, or find relief from the pain of an existing vein condition.

Cold Water Improves Circulation

Why are cold showers such a useful tool in preventing spider veins? Cold showers improve blood circulation–as your limbs get colder, blood rushes down from other parts of your body to warm them. When circulation improves, blood is less likely to pool in your veins. And, since pooling blood causes varicose veins to bulge and become visible beneath your skin, a daily cold shower can help keep this problem at bay.  And for patients already dealing with painful spider veins,

Of course, improved blood flow also helps your overall cardiovascular health. It can also keep plaque from building up in your arteries, preventing the type of hardening we associate with peripheral arterial disease.

Additional Benefits of Daily Cold Showers

But those aren’t all the benefits you may enjoy from daily cold showers. Icy water can boost your lymphatic system. And by boosting your lymphatic system, you can help prevent the build up of lymph material that causes lymphedema (swelling) in your lower legs.

While cold showers can offer preventative vein care, and temporary pain relief, they can’t cure CVD (chronic venous disease) or other underlying conditions that may be causing your spider veins. For true relief, you will need to seek treatment from your local vein specialists.

 

Sources: msn.com, chatelaine.com

Four Ways to Prevent Spider Veins

So many things contribute to your risk of developing spider veins: your age, your family history and your weight can all play a role. So, while it may not be possible to prevent spider veins from ever forming, there are certainly things you can do to delay the process, or to prevent existing veins from worsening. leg exercise

  1. Don’t stand or sit for extended periods
    Spending a long time in any one position—whether it’s up or down—can make your spider veins worse. Why? When you stop moving, blood can start to pool in the bottom of your legs. If your job requires you to sit a lot, try taking frequent walking breaks or do some stationary leg exercises under your desk. If you have to stand up on the job, sneak in sitting breaks throughout the day, ideally elevating your feet during that downtime.
  2. Wear compression socks or hose
    Compressions stockings can help your valves stay in the proper position, improving your circulation and reducing discomfort. We offer several different sizes and styles of compression socks in our Houston vein clinic, so you can pick the pair that suits your mood.
  3. Make overall health your priority
    By eating a balanced diet, avoiding excessive alcohol and staying well hydrated, you’re already on the right path towards protecting your vein health. And don’t feel like you have t do everything all at once: even a small change, like adding more fruits and veggies to your diet, can give you an extra boost of fiber and potassium—both of which help support healthy veins!
  4. Get sweaty on the regular
    Exercising is crucial in preventing the progression of varicose veins because it helps protect and improve your circulation. Don’t worry—you don’t need to start training for a marathon to enjoy the benefits of exercise. If you’re new to fitness, start with walking: it gets you active without putting too much pressure on your body. Bonus: it costs you nothing, you don’t need any equipment, and you can make it into a social opportunity! If walking isn’t your speed, give yoga a chance. Not only will it help your circulation, it can also tone and strengthen the leg muscles that support your most vulnerable veins!

Varicose veins can be unsightly and painful, so if you have one or more risk factors, taking preventative steps like these are always a good idea. It’s also smart to get regular vein health check-ups: the sooner you catch a potential problem, the sooner you can begin treatment and avoid further complications!

Sources: verywellhealth.com, viavascular.com

5 Reasons Why Varicose Veins Aren’t Just a Cosmetic Concern

There’s one thing we all know about varicose veins: those bulging, dark twisty things don’t look great when they show up on your legs (or anywhere else.) But here’s what you may not know: varicose veins are actually your body’s way of warning you that problems are brewing inside.

5 Conditions Associated with Spider VeinsDiagnostic Ultrasound Evaluation

  1. Venous Insufficiency. While varicose veins aren’t themselves bad for you, the factors that create them can be. You see, veins are elastic blood vessels, charged with carrying blood back to the heart after it’s reached your body’s extremities. In the veins, there are a series of valves that open and close, allowing blood to flow up and towards the heart. The valves are basically one way gates that open to let blood flow up, but close to keep it from going back down towards your body again. They are your body’s way of fighting gravity. But, what happens when those valves stop working well? Your blood can begin to go backward, allowing blood to back up and pool. That kind of backward flow is called venous insufficiency, and aside from allowing veins to stretch and bulge it can also lead to leg and ankle swelling (edema), pain, itching and other uncomfortable symptoms.
  2. Blood Clots. When VI leaves you with pooling blood, that blood is more likely to form clots. Clots that form in the walls of your superficial veins (also called phlebitis) can be quite painful, although not usually life threatening.
  3. Deep Vein Thrombosis. Also known as DVT, this is a condition that occurs when blood clots form in your body’s deeper veins. Associated with poor circulation, it is considered a life threatening condition because, if a clot breaks free, it can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
  4. Ulcers. When blood sits around in your veins, it doesn’t just clot–it can start to leak out of your vessels as the walls become stretched beyond capacity. The leaked blood can deposit itself into the soft tissue of your legs, especially around your ankles where the skin is thin, holes may open up. Because your circulatory system is already compromised, less than optimal amounts of oxygen will reach that hole, making it more difficult for the skin to heal itself. That is why individuals with VI are more prone to open sores (ulcers.)
  5. Hemorrhaging.  When VI persists without treatment veins may be stretched to the point where they burst. At that point, you will experience bleeding that, depending on the location of the vein, may be dangerous to your overall health.

Now that you understand the potential complications associated with spider veins, don’t waste another minute: schedule a diagnostic vein scan to determine the best treatment course to resolve your venous insufficiency.

Sources: news.llu.edu, healthline.com, clevelandclinic.org, texaseva.com

5 Reasons Not to Delay Your Vein Treatments

We hear so many explanations from patients who aren’t in a rush to treat their spider veins: “It’s just cosmetic.” “They don’t bother me that much.” “I’ve got other problems to deal with first.”

Painful varicose and spider veins will only cause more problems down the road if left untreated!

Unfortunately, what many patients don’t realize is that leaving your spider veins untreated can actually lead to further medical complications. Here are five health issues that may come up if you decide to delay treating varicose veins:

 

Complications of Untreated Varicose Veins

  1. Hyperpigmentation
    Varicose veins can be dangerous because of the blood that builds up inside of them. Because this blood is stripped of its oxygen and nutrients, it can cause cause chronic inflammation, and lead to changes in your skin’s appearance–you may notice that your legs are darker or discolored (hyperpigmentation.) Painful swelling is also associated with this condition.
  2. Ulcers
    Venous ulcers are open sores that can develop when your leg veins aren’t able to properly push blood back up towards your heart. First, the extra blood pools in your veins, causing the noticeable bulges of spider veins. If left untreated, however, the extra blood may leak through the vein, causing an ulcer to form, most frequently in the thin-skinned areas above the ankles. Ulcers are difficult to heal and can open your entire body up to serious infection. If left untreated, ulcers may leave you in need of a limb amputation. In rare cases, ulcers can even prove to be fatal.
  3. Bleeding
    When pooled blood is left, untreated, in your veins, the covering skin thins out due to the internal swelling and pressure. The thinner your skin, the less protection there is for your veins. And the more blood that pools in your veins, the larger a target they become for injury. All of this adds up to the fact that untreated varicose veins are at higher risk of being nicked or cut; if and when that does occur, you may stand to lose a significant amount of blood, because so much liquid will have collected in the injured vein.
  4. Blood Clots
    Varicose veins are more likely to become inflamed at the point where you can see them, which is just beneath your skin. This, in turn, can put you at higher risk for blood clots in those surface-level veins.
  5. Deep vein thrombosis
    Unlike surface level blood clots, DVTs occur in the veins that hide deep within your legs. Because they are harder to detect, they are a scarier side effect: DVTs are known to break free, without warning, and travel to your lungs (pulmonary embolism), where they become a potentially life-threatening complication.

Booking Your Vein Treatment

Clearly, varicose veins are so much more than a cosmetic concern. If left untreated, they can cause you to experience a whole host of serious medical complications. Now that you know the facts, stop the excuses and make an appointment to address those unsightly veins in your legs. Yes, you’ll feel better about the way you look but, more importantly, you’ll be taking a major step towards protecting your long-term health!