Tag: Houston vein center

There are Stages of Vein Disease: Don’t Delay Treatment!

Did you know that there are stages of vein disease? That’s right, this is a progressive condition. In fact, the Clinical Etiology Anatomy Pathophysiology classification lists six distinct stages. They begin at C0, where you have no visible sign of vein disease. Next, at C1 you have noticeable spider veins. Progress to C2? Now, varicose veins emerge. By C3, you’re worrying about edema. And if you get to C6? Well, at this point, you’ve got an active venous leg ulcer to address.

Now, all of that is really important information to understand. 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 cellulitis on leg

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 man holding knee

Depending on your disease progression, you may be eligible for one or more of the following treatments:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

Sources: Cleveland Clinic 

How to Fight Varicose Veins in Cold Weather

Look out, Houston: it’s the one time of year when we may be facing cold weather. (Or, more likely, when you’ll be traveling away from the Gulf to colder climates where you can ski!) While cold weather is not something we need to worry about all that often in our area of Texas, it can be a real problem for individuals with varicose veins. Or for those people, like pregnant women, with a higher risk of developing them. Here’s why:

Cold Weather Affects Your Circulation

You know that song, “the weather outside is frightful?” Nothing inspires people to stay indoors, and stay sitting, like Cold Outsidea dip in temperature. It’s way too tempting to skip a trip to the gym when you could read a good book in your cozy bed, instead.

Unfortunately, exercise is very important for individuals with vein conditions like varicose veins. Staying sedentary worsens existing vein problems because your blood pools more and gets moved around your body even less than normal.

But that’s not the only reason cold weather is bad for your veins. Have you ever noticed that, when you’re cold, your toes and fingers start to change color? Maybe they look a little blue? That’s because the cold weather has affected your circulation, and less blood is reaching your extremities. Of course, this is uncomfortable for anyone stuck in the cold, but for people with vein problems, it can really exacerbate your condition.

How Cold Weather Can Help Varicose Veins

Thankfully, cold weather isn’t all bad for your veins. In fact, in some ways, cooler temperatures can be beneficial to your vein health! Unlike hot weather, that can leave your body sore and swollen, cold weather can actually cause your veins to constrict. For people with varicose veins, a condition that’s cause by pooling blood that contributes to swollen, bulging veins, this is a major positive. So take heart: your varicose veins may actually appear smaller in the cold. You may also experience fewer symptoms, like cramping and swelling, when it’s cold outside.

Of course, any weather-related symptom relief will disappear when temperatures come back up. Sadly, problems that are exacerbated by cold weather may not improve, even when it’s warm again.  In order to truly protect yourself from weather-related vein symptoms, your only option is to seek treatment for the underlying problem. At our Houston vein clinic, we are happy to offer diagnostic vein scans, so schedule your appointment today, before the chilly weather gets the best of you!

PAD vs. CVD: This is How You Tell the Difference

PAD vs CVD: these serious conditions have similar symptoms. As a result, when you are experiencing leg pain, it can be difficult to know what’s causing your discomfort. That’s because both Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Chronic Venous Disease (CVD) can make your legs hurt. So, how can you tell the difference between these problems? Just keep reading for our handy guide!

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

PAD is a condition in which your arteries harden because of plaque build-up on the walls. This hardening narrows your arteries, making it more difficult for blood to flow through. And when this happens, you may experience symptoms in your legs, including: pain, numbness, or heaviness. These symptoms typically appear when you are active, and usually resolve when you rest.

PAD is a serious condition; it ups your risk for stroke and other cardiovascular conditions. Luckily, we can treat PAD with lifestyle changes and with minimally invasive interventions. When it comes to lifestyle, supervised exercise programs can help reduce your leg cramps and may also improve blood flow to your extremities. Choosing a healthy diet and breaking up with smoking can also improve PAD symptoms.

Then, when it comes to treating PAD, we’re here to help. Depending on the severity of your condition, we can offer Angioplasty, Stenting or Atherectomy for PAD. All of these options take a different approach to resolving PAD. But they have one thing in common: they allow you to avoid large surgical incisions. And they rarely require you to stay overnight in hospital.

Of course, before treating PAD, you must receive an accurate diagnosis. Which is why you have to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. Including CVD, or chronic venous disease.

What is Chronic Venous Disease?

Chronic Venous Disease is a way of describing conditions that develop when your veins aren’t functioning properly. These include varicose veins, ulcers, and edema. But, sometimes, venous disease shows up in less obvious ways. In fact, many symptoms of CVD are very similar to those associated with PAD. So, the question remains, how can you tell the difference between the two?

Ruling out PAD as a Diagnosis

Because PAD symptoms are so similar to those associated with CVD, it can be difficult to diagnose. But here’s the key factor to note when you talk to your doctor. When you have PAD, you will likely only experience symptoms like leg pain and heaviness when you are active. If you have Venous Disease, resting will likely not improve your symptoms. Also, when you have CVD, visible symptoms like spider veins will usually show up fairly quickly.

Finally, timing can be a major clue as well. With CVD, leg pain tends to show up at the end of a long day. Especially if you spent extended periods on your feet. But, with PAD, pain shows up day or night, and, as we mentioned, is typically tied to movement.

Of course, the easiest and best way to determine the cause of your leg pain is to see your vein specialist. But, clearly identifying your symptoms can help your doctor quickly reach a diagnosis. So, take note of your symptoms and make an appointment with our Houston vein specialists today to assess your PAD risk or book a diagnostic ultrasound to check for CVD.

 

Sources: American Venous Forum, Cardiovascular Institute of the South

Should I worry about my thread veins?

Are you worried about your thread veins? Here’s what you need to know. This is a very common vein condition. It develops when the small blood vessels that lie beneath your skin become dilated and visible. So you see small s

Also known as ‘telangiectasia’, thread veins come in several different colors. The smalls ones are red, but problems began if you don’t treat them early. As time goes on, they progress from purple to green. This means that they are getting larger ( or more dilated.)

Thread veins are more common in older adults, but anyone can get them. And while some people with this condition will also have varicose veins, not everyone will. Let’s explore more about this common vein condition.

Are Thread Veins a Sign of a Medical Condition?void bigger 

89% of women with small, visible veins developed this problem because varicose veins were dilating their vessels.  And 40% of those women also have such a severe varicose vein problem that they will likely develop other medical problems in the future.

Because these two vein concerns go hand-in-hand so often, anyone who has the former should be screened for the latter. In our Houston vein specialist office, we can screen you for varicose veins with a simple diagnostic ultrasound.

This type of screening will help determine whether your thread veins are a stand-alone problem or part of a larger issue.

Why Do Small Veins Become Visible?

Most often, genetics predisposes you to developing thread veins. If your mom and grandma had them, chances are, you will too.

Other times, thread veins develop at the sight of a bruise or injury. This is a less common cause.

Can you Prevent this Problem?

As mentioned, thread veins are often a genetic inheritance. But, since they are also tied to varicose veins, there are some measures you can take to help reduce the onset of these veins:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly: Inactivity and obesity have been linked to problems with varicose veins.
  1. Avoided extended periods of sitting: When you sit for a long time, you don’t use the muscles in your legs that are in charge of pumping blood back up to your heart. This can allow blood to fall back down your leg veins and pool, leading to swelling of the legs and bulging varicose veins.

Symptoms of Dilated Vessels

When your veins become visible through your skin, cosmetic symptoms aren’t your only worry. Many patients with vein problems end up with malfunctioning valves in their veins. That means your blood has a harder time flowing against gravity and up to your heart. As a result, blood can pool in your lower legs. And that pooling blood puts more pressure on your veins.

This pressure has two effects. First, it can make existing thread or spider veins more noticeable. But it also pushes other fluid out of your veins. And, when that fluid collects in your legs, they can swell (edema.) For that reason, if your legs or feet regularly appear swollen, it’s worth seeing your local vein specialist to see if your vein conditions need treatment.

Treating Vein Conditions in Houston

When it comes to getting rid of visible veins, over-the-counter creams don’t work. Sure, you can cover them up with makeup, but that’s clearly a temporary solution. If you really want to get rid of thread veins, you need to first clear up any underlying medical problems. Then, if you are still dealing with thread veins, you can treat them with microsclerotherapy, which involves injecting a highly diluted sclerosant solution into your veins with a teeny-tiny needle. This injection will permanently destroy your dilated blood vessels so they stop showing up beneath the skin.

If thread veins have been bothering you and you want to rule out a more serious medical issue, schedule an appointment with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee. We can screen you for other medical conditions and get you started on the treatment plan that’s best for your unique situation.

 

Sources:  Harvard Health, goodhousekeeping.com

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!

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