Ugh…those awful spider veins! They look awful and they can really hurt, too! If you have been distressed recently and noticed the appearance of little red and blue lines on your legs, don’t panic. Yes, you are young, healthy, and quite fit, so why would you see those “old lady” leg symptoms?
You may not like how they look, but the fact is they are really nothing to become upset about. In fact, they happen to be quite normal. With that said, there are some facts you should know about spider veins even if you are young. This is the best way to protect the appearance of your legs and enjoy healthy aging!
Did you know that there are stages of vein disease? That’s right, this is a progressive condition. That’s really important information. Especially if you’ve been delaying treating your spider veins. Do you hate how they look, but aren’t sure if there’s a good medical reason to get rid of them? If so, you NEED to read this blog post.
Why? Because, if left untreated, the vein problems you’re already experiencing will get worse. And they can lead to further medical complications. In fact, by the end of this post, we’re guessing you’ll be ready to talk vein treatment. But first, let’s review three clear signs that pushing off your vein treatment is no longer an option.
Stages of Vein Disease
Vein disease gets worse if left alone. So you should seek treatment in the early stages of vein disease. And, to help you do that, here are the different stops along the way to serious vein disease.
STAGE 1: You’ll notice small red or blue veins under your skin. They may look like tree branches, and will be one millimeter or less in diameter. But, while they’re small, they still mean your leg veins have leaky valves.
STAGE 2: Here come the varicose veins. They are larger, blue twisted veins that bulge under the surface of your skin. at this stage, you may also develop symptoms. These include heaviness, itching, pain, inflammation, or even a ruptured vein, which can lead to bleeding events.
STAGE 3: Edema and lympheda become problems. Your legs and ankles swell from pooling blood in your lower leg. Your skin may feel tight. And it could take on a leathery appearance.
STAGE 4: Your skin changes colors. Usually, you’ll notice rust colored skin, especially around your calves and ankles. Again, this change comes from pooling blood in your lower legs.
STAGE 5: You may develop wounds (leg ulcers). While they may form scars, they’ll be difficult to heal.
STAGE 6: Your ulcers could bleed (Venous stasis ulcers). They could also leak pus or fluid. They may give off bad odors. And they’ll leave skin feeling tender or even burning. These ulcers also increase yoru risk for skin infections or even amputations in extreme situations.
This is When to Seek Varicose Vein Treatment
As we mentioned, there are stages of vein disease. And, as with all progressive conditions, early treatment is best. So here are the clear signs it’s time to seek vein treatment.
You notice dilated leg veins: Dark, vivid veins are unsightly. But visibly dilated veins expand in size, and that’s a clear sign to seek treatment.
Your legs are tired and heavy: If your legs are heavy or numb or just-plain tired, varicose veins are impacting your quality of life.
You develop phlebitis: Phlebitis causes inflammation in specific venous areas. The surrounding skin gets red and hot to the touch. You may also notice lumps beneath your skin. (And they’ll be painful!) You’ll usually notice this problem in your lower legs. But small surface veins in your arms, breasts or penis can also be impacted. There are two types of phlebitis: one that impacts surface veins, and one that hits your deeper veins. Superficial phlebitis isn’t a major medical concern, but phlebitis in your deeper veins (also called DVT, or deep vein thrombosis) is a medical emergency. In fact, it could be fatal if not treated quickly.
And this condition is a clear sign to seek immediate treatment for your varicose veins.
Now we know how to spot the crucial moment to seek vein treatment, let’s look at what happens if you don’t.
If you ignore varicose veins in the early stages of vein disease, they won’t stay the way they are. And they certainly won’t get better! Instead, these bulging veins will get larger and more dangerous. (See the six stages of vein disease above.)
So…that’s the bad news. But here’s the good: we can stop this progression in its tracks with proper vein treatments.
And the earlier you seek treatment, the greater the variety of treatment options you’ll be offered ( all of which we’ll review in 3…2…1…
Top Treatment Options for Varicose Veins
Depending on your disease progression, you may be eligible for one or more of the following treatments:
Cosmetic sclerotherapy. If you aren’t having symptoms, or your veins are near the surface, this is a great choice. Treatment addresses unsightly veins that don’t show serious disease symptoms. It’s fast, minimally invasive and requires no sedation or anesthesia.
Ultrasound-guided Sclerotherapy. This outpatient procedure is the best way to treat spider leg veins. We inject solution into your affected vein. Next, it shrinks and closes so blood flows through healthier veins, instead. Once the vein closes, it disappear from view over time. And the procedure takes just 15 minutes. Afterwards, you wear compression stockings for a week. But you can get back to normal activities right away, making sure to walk for at least 30 minutes each day.
Ablation Treatment for Vein Disease
Another option our Houston vein specialists offer is radiofrequency vein ablation (RFA), typically used to treat varicose veins and other problems caused by venous insufficiency or reflux.
RFA is a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is inserted into an abnormal vein, heating the vein to close it permanently. Radiofrequency ablation requires only a local anesthetic, causes little or no pain, and leaves virtually no scar. The outpatient procedure takes less than an hour to perform and patients can resume normal activities immediately afterwards.
Finally there is ambulatory phlebectomy—a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to remove bulging varicose veins located just below the skin.
Phlebectomy is performed under local anesthesia. Several small incisions are made to extract your bulging varicose vein. Since we make small incisions, you won’t need stitches and scarring is minimal or even non-existent. We call this procedure “ambulatory” because you can walk immediately after we get done!
Before recommending any of our vein treatments, our vein specialists will perform a thorough exam and discuss all your available options. Together, we’ll decide on the best way to stop your progressive vein disease in its tracks! So make your appointment today!
Diabetes and PAD make a dangerous combination. After all, Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) limits your blood flow. Then, high blood sugar levels can also compromise your blood flow. (And cause nerve damage, which makes you lose feeling in your extremities.) In combination, these factors mean that even small wounds can turn into big infections. At that point, your diabetic ulcer could put you at risk for amputation.
At this point, that possibility is a big problem. According to a new study from Kaiser Health News, this country is facing an epidemic of diabetic foot amputations. In California alone, between 2011 and 2017, 82,000 individuals lost limbs due to diabetic complications.
Limb Loss and Diabetes
As we mentioned, diabetics lose their limbs for a number of reasons. The disease can raise sugar levels in the blood stream, which in turn can affect circulation and cause organ damage. Diabetics also often experience reduced sensation in the extremities (neuropathy), which can threaten limbs in two ways:
People with circulatory and nerve damage may not know when they injured their limbs. And, because they have compromised blood circulation, even minor injuries can be slow to heal. Over time, and without routine medical care, these untreated, unhealed injuries become deep wounds (ulcers). Once ulcers develop, diabetics are at immediate risk of losing part of or all of the affected limb.
Many Amputations are Avoidable
While all the statistics in the study were scary, there’s one fact we, as Houston vein specialists, found particularly scary: many of these amputations would have been avoidable with routine medical care. And, it showed that people who were black or Hispanic were twice as likely to face an amputation, due in large part to inadequate access to care.
So that’s the bad news that we took away from this study, but here’s something that can make you feel more at ease: with proper preventative care, you can keep your diabetes in good control. This can help you prevent devastating complications like amputations.
Cholesterol, Diabetes and PAD
What kind of preventative vein care do we recommend for diabetics? Diabetes can damage your blood vessels (veins, arteries and/or capillaries), causing your body to deposit cholesterol within the vessels in the hopes of preventing further damage.
Now, cholesterol is a waxy substance that occurs naturally in your cells. Your liver also makes cholesterol, or you take in cholesterol from your food. While you may not know this, your body actually needs some cholesterol to function. After all, cholesterol is involved in making vitamin D, your sex hormones, and steroid hormones such as cortisol. Plus, some cholesterol gets converted to bile acids in your body. And you need those acids to absorb vitamins a, d, e and k. In other words, you need a little bit of cholesterol to stay healthy.
But the problems start when your cholesterol levels rise. Because, unfortunately, cholesterol can build up. Then, deposits can clog your arteries, causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. (That’s when your arteries narrow, or harden. It’s what causes PAD, leaving you at risk of heart-related complications.) And that’s where specialists like Drs. Fox, Hardee and Valenson can help: using interventional radiology techniques, we can remove blockages and help restore your blood flow.
Improved blood flow will reduce your risk of ulcers, help heal existing wounds, and go a long way towards preventing limb loss. Plus, it can help relieve other symptoms of PAD, including pain when you walk, hair loss and skin changes. Even better? Choosing minimally invasive PAD treatment can do more to prevent limb loss.
Amputations, PCBs and Peripheral Arteries
A new review from the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery suggests that widening your arteries using paclitaxel-coated balloons (PCBs) ups your risk for major amputation. Fortunately, in our office, we can also treat PAD with stents or atherectomy, so you have your choice of limb-saving options. Which, along with diabetes care, may help you preserve your long-term health.
What does all this mean for you? Well, if you have diabetes, make sure you keep up appointments with your regular medical team. (And make sure to address any circulatory problems right away.) If you’ve got reduced blood flow or atherosclerosis, make an appointment with our team of experts right away. Doing so might just be the decision you make that saves your limbs!
Did you know that VR tech vein treatments are here to heal you? That’s very exciting! Because, as Houston area vein doctors, we’ve helped pioneer the art of minimally invasive vein treatments. We navigate catheters through your delicate veins. And that lets us treat conditions like varicose veins and peripheral arterial disease. Which is important, since the American Heart Association just released a scientific statement saying we need to pay better attention to PAD diagnostics and care!
In our office, we treat these conditions by relying on 2-D images, usually from X-rays. They stay in front of us during procedures, help guide the way through to blockages or areas that need repair. But now, thanks to a new development in technology, all that may be about to change!
VR Tech Vein Treatments
There’s a new catheter, developed at the University of Washington. It’s fitted with electromagnetic sensors that feed real-time imaging from inside your blood vessels to a virtual reality headset. If approve, it would help make interventional radiology procedures far more precise.
How could it do so? Well, it would help doctors operate with three-dimensional guides. In fact, the electromagnetic sensors could accurately capture the size and shape of the blood vessels as the tool travels through them.
But it wouldn’t just make procedures more precise. In fact, VR tech vein treatments could help protect doctors AND patients from repeat exposure to radiation. How? Well, by eliminating the need for x-ray technology during minimally invasive vein procedures! And, as an added bonus, VR is cheaper and more transportable than older forms of tech. So life-saving vein treatments could become more accessible to patients living outside of major metro areas and far away from vein centers like Texas Endovascular.
We are eagerly awaiting the device’s approval from the Food and Drug Administration. So we’ll keep our readers posted on this and other new developments in vein health and treatments. It is always our honor to bring patients the newest, safest and most precise vein treatments in the Greater Houston area. Which is why we urge you to make an immediate appointment with our team if you have any symptoms of vein disease or PAD.
When we see patients for varicose vein treatment in our Houston area vein centers, they’re often a symptom of venous insufficiency. That’s a condition that can cause more serious health issues. In other words, varicose veins can be dangerous and unattractive. So treating these bulging, prominent veins is more than just a cosmetic decision: it’s imperative to your overall health.
Once you’ve decided to treat varicose veins, the question remains: what method will serve you best?
Procedures to get rid of varicose veins have come a long way, and, today, you’ve got many different options. At one time, patients with vein disease weren’t so lucky. Some chose a procedure commonly known as “vein stripping,” which was an inpatient surgery requiring general anesthesia, hospital admission, and a long, painful recovery period.
Now, this treatment option was highly invasive. So it wasn’t safe for some patients with pre-existing health conditions, including even mild liver disease. (Also called cirrhosis.) For that reason, many patients were left suffering, because the treatment risks were too high.
Even patients who could tolerate vein stripping faced a tough road. After that invasive therapy, patients had to take off time from work or school while they healed! Thankfully, those days are behind us! In our office we offer a range of minimally invasive varicose vein treatments.
And we’re constantly watching the news for treatment develops. Recently, one option involving medical glue, was approved by the NHS in the UK. So, today, we wanted to discuss the effectiveness of this treatment.
Medical Glue and Varicose Veins
As we mentioned before, varicose veins are a symptom of a blood flow problem. When your valves fail, that allows blood to flow backwards, instead of going against gravity and returning to your heart. As the blood sticks around your lower extremities, those veins in your legs get stretched, bulging and becoming visible through your skin.
That’s where a medical glue product called VenaSeal is introduced. Using a small catheter, the glue is inserted into your vein to stop your blood from flowing backwards into your legs. A local anesthetic is often used alongside the glue to prevent any pain. The glue basically stops up the faulty vein so it can’t continue to cause problems.
While VenaSeal can be effective, there are some factors that may impact its usefulness: the glue has to be inserted into just the right spot, or backflow may continue. Additionally, it has not yet been cleared for use in pregnant women, and long term safety studies are still in the works.
Sclerotherapy and Ablation for Varicose Veins
Looking for an alternative to VenaSeal? Sclerotherapy is a great option using an ultrasound to access your varicose vein, under the skin, with a very small needle. Next, we mix medication with carbon dioxide gas to create a foam that we inject directly into the abnormal vein, closing it permanently. We recommend sclerotherapy for veins that aren’t yet bulging.
Now, for bulging varicose veins, radiofrequency vein ablation may be a better option. RFA is also a minimally invasive procedure involving the insertion of a catheter into your abnormal vein. We then supply it with heat energy, closing the vein permanently. Want the best news? We can perform RFA with just a local anesthetic. It is a virtually painless procedure that leaves virtually no scar. The procedure takes less than an hour to perform and patients can resume normal activities immediately afterwards.
Before proceeding with radiofrequency ablation, or any other varicose vein treatment, your Houston vein specialists will perform a thorough medical examination, including a diagnostic ultrasound evaluation, to determine whether the procedure is appropriate for you. To find out the best treatment option for your medical reality, schedule your consult today!
When do you have to worry about DVT risk? Well, you develop deep vein thrombosis (deep vein thrombosis ()DVT) when a blood clot forms in one of your deep veins. (This usually occurs in your legs). And DVT is a serious problem, more dangerous than other blood clots. Why? Because it comes with a high risk of recurrence, death, or chronic symptoms like pain and swelling.
But why do you develop DVT in the first place? Many factors contribute to this problem, but lack of movement is a big contributor (that’s why your DVT risk is high on long flights.) And, as we stayed home more, limiting our activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, that could be a problem. Even as COVID rates drop, the world has changed. Work from home will be much more common, and that’s concerning in some ways. Especially if you already have vein disease.
Thankfully, even taking a walk outside, and limiting your salty snacks, could help reduce your water retention and lower your DVT risk. Plus, we have several new and proven ways to treat your DVT. So just keep reading to learn more about what your life will look like, even if you develop a DVT.
Basically, the Vein-Chip allows researchers to test various risk factors, including gender, race, ethnicity and more, to see how they impact DVT risk. The hope is that this technology will help our fellow vein specialists personalize your DVT treatment protocols.
Lead study author Abhishek Jain, Ph.D and his team have already made an important discovery that may impact post DVT treatment. Basically, they found that when you’re healthy, and your blood flow slows down, your body may try to adapt by releasing anti-clotting factors. This adaptation only happens within your vein pocket, which suggests that we should deliver clot dissolving medications directly to your affected areas.
That’s one exciting development in DVT prevention and treatment protocols. Because, with targeted anti-clotting therapy, we could prevent dangerous bleeding episodes. So, now that we’ve discovered some new tech developments, let’s explore some other key findings.
What’s the Best Treatment Plan after a DVT?
According to a study published in the journal Blood, people with DVT can easily cut their risk of complications. How? It’s simple: just start compression therapy within 24 hours.
The study explored whether compression therapy could prevent residual vein occlusion and post thrombotic syndrome. What do those terms means? Residual vein occlusion is when clots stay in your veins, with or without symptoms. That’s a big deal, since it likely contributes to post-thrombotic syndrome, which is just a collection of symptoms. These include pain, swelling, discoloration and leg scaling.
For this study, 600 DVT patients in the Netherlands received compression therapy within 24 hours of their diagnosis. Next, they were compared to patients that started that compression therapy later on. In addition to their compression therapy, all patients received anti-clotting medications.
What researchers found was promising: Patients who got immediate compression therapy were 20% less likely to develop residual vein occlusion and 8% less likely to suffer post-thrombotic syndrome compared with those who delayed compression.
Even better news? Compression therapy was not associated with any adverse side effects. And while all DVT patients appeared to benefit from compression, those with clots lower down in the leg enjoyed the greatest results.
Study author Dr. ten Cate-Hoek says, “Although the use of compression stockings after DVT is routine across much of Europe, it is less common in the United States, where guidelines emphasize compression primarily for patients who complain of ongoing symptoms…Given these outcomes, and that compression stockings are fairly easy to self-administer, relatively inexpensive, and minimally intrusive, compression therapy offers a clear benefit for all patients with DVT.”
Have you been diagnosed with DVT, and now you need to manage your care? Our Houston area vein specialists are here to help. Contact our office for an immediate appointment. We can help you protect your health with compression therapy, or any other treatments that may be necessary after we complete your evaluation.
Did you know that compression socks for men are important? We know that when you imagine compression socks, some unattractive images come to mind. And most of them involve little old ladies. But, these days, compression socks for men and women come in all styles! And, more importantly they support your vein health in many ways. Therefore, we need to 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. Still, some athletes choose to wear compression socks. And they do so without experiencing vascular issues, because they can help lower limb swelling.
Because wearing compression socks can also speed up recovery time after a hard training session thanks to the boost they give your blood flow. Plus, compression socks can increase your endurance. (They work to keep your legs from getting too tired.) They may also relieve the pain of aching joints, and help support your muscles and improve your balance.
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. There are two main types of compression socks: graded and anti-embolism. Our vein specialists can help you decide what type is right for your needs. But anti-embolism socks are meant for patients confined to their beds. So, while these compression socks may be important if you’re in the hospital, they probably aren’t for you. .
Now, remember: graded compression socks are most common. But there are still choices. Because 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.
Where Can I Get Compression Socks?
Here’s the good news: compression socks are really easy to get a hold of. You can find them in a number of places: the drug store, our offices (or your primary healthcare providers). Heck, you can even get them online!
Bare in mind that online or in stores, you may not enjoy the widest selection available. Also, the pressure rating may not be sufficient to meet your vein health needs. So, what’s the best way to get what you need out of your stockings? See your vein specialists and score a prescription for compression socks. That way, you’ll be sure that the pair you receive is ideally suited for your specific needs. Plus, with a medical prescription, you may be able to use insurance to cover the cost of your stockings.
Have you been thinking about varicose vein treatment? That is perfect, because now’s a great time! While it may not have cooled down much outside, 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 five reasons why fall is the right time to treat those bulging, twisted signs of venous insufficiency.
Why is Fall a Great Time for Varicose Vein Treatment?
1. You have more time
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.
5. You’ll be ready for the holidays.
Once Thanksgiving comes, you’ll be facing a mad rush of shopping and celebrating. That will be the case, even if the holidays look a little different this year. Now, if you seek varicose vein treatment earlier in the fall, here’s the best news we can offer. By the time you hit the holiday season, you should be mostly done with your recovery process. Which means that you can sit, stand and celebrate your way through the festivities. All without worrying about the look or feelings coming from those twisted, painful, varicose veins!