Blogs | The Vein Centre


What you need to know about Menopause and Varicose Veins

By | Vein Health
Hormones During Menopause and Varicose Veins

Both physiologic and hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy increase the risk for varicose veins in women. Higher levels of progesterone and estrogen have a relaxing and thinning effect on the walls of the veins. In addition, higher abdominal pressure and higher blood volumes during pregnancy are also contributing factors leading to varicose veins. The other end of life’s spectrum, menopause, also has its effects on vein health. Whether you are approaching or are in this stage of life, there are some important things you need to know about managing and preventing varicose veins.

Hormonal Balance is a Major Player in Vein Health

Research shows that both estrogen and progesterone have beneficial effects on vein wall support. This phenomenon also occurs in men as both sexes have combinations of both masculine and feminine hormones in the body. The main difference between men and women are the amounts. Estrogen is also needed to make the male hormone, testosterone.

Hormonal balance in women occurs during childbearing years in a non-pregnant state. If increases in estrogen and progesterone weaken the blood vessels by thinning vein walls, then the sharp decreases in both hormones during menopause will have the opposite effect, excessive thickening and constricting of venous walls.

Decrease Hormone Levels in Menopause also Increase the Risk of Varicose Veins.

Hormonal fluctuations in pre-menopause, peri-menopause, and menopause can occur over many years. The rise and subsequent drop of estrogen and progesterone during these phases can create thickened and less flexible vein walls. The effects also occur along valves directing flow back to the heart. Thickened areas along these valves will prevent them from closing, allowing blood to flow freely in both directions. Blood will also pool in areas surrounding the valves, contributing to their swollen and knot-like appearance. The thickened vein walls create narrowed pathways for returning blood, causing congestion and further swelling.

What Actions can I take to Prevent and Lessen Their Appearance During Menopause?

Like pregnancy, varicose veins experienced during the transition to menopause in women, commonly fade. Most times, they are not painful, and their presence is mostly cosmetic. For some women, however, there are associated symptoms, such as pain, heaviness, skin problems, and blood clots. Women experiencing these symptoms should consult with their physician and vein specialist regarding hormone replacement therapy.

Unless other conditions are present, that prevent its use, HRT can be continued during treatment for varicose veins. Patients who are at higher risks for blood clots because of genetic or lifestyle factors may need to discuss other forms or treatment with their physician or specialist. Otherwise, adopting a healthy low-impact cardiac exercise program, which uses the lower body and leg muscles, will assist circulation and improve the condition. Other actions to take include frequent standing breaks during sedentary work and avoiding instances where long-term standing is necessary.

Your primary care doctor or vein specialist can help you determine which treatments give the best results for your individual case. Be sure to discuss options regarding HRT and venous procedures with your vein specialist during your consultation.

Pregnancy: A Leading Cause of Varicose Veins in Women

Pregnancy: A Leading Cause of Varicose Veins in Women

By | Vein Health

Pregnancy is one of the leading causes of varicose veins in women.  The effects of pregnancy on the venous system increase the risk for developing varicosities in three ways:

  1. Both fetal weight and the growing uterus will compress the inferior vena cava, which transports blood from the legs back to the heart.
  2. Pregnant women have almost one and one-half times the normal blood volume to nourish both mother and baby.
  3. Hormonal changes in pregnancy cause venous walls to relax and dilate, accommodating the higher blood flow.

All three changes during gestation can place undue stress and tension on venous circulation causing veins in the lower body to stretch and swell. Venous blood flow, unlike arterial blood flow, does not occur in conjunction with the pumping action of the heart. Instead, the veins rely on one-way valves to keep blood from flowing backward due to the effect of gravity.

Fetal and Uterine Factors Contributing to Varicose Veins

Venous blood returning to the heart from the legs is already fighting gravity along its journey.  Picture a heavy object pressing on the large veins in the abdomen and thighs, which then creates restrictions on blood flow. Blood would pool below the compressed areas, and the veins in the legs would need to dilate and stretch to accommodate the congestion. This happens as both the fetus and uterus grow during pregnancy. The end results are varicose veins in the thighs and legs. Most times, superficial veins also dilate, resulting in superficial spider veins. These spider veins are common on the ankles, back of the knees, and even on the abdomen.

Increased Blood Volume

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Blood volumes in pregnancy increase to over 50% more than non-pregnant women. This amounts to over one liter of extra fluid circulating within the veins. The largest part of the increase occurs in the last eight weeks of pregnancy, when both the fetus and uterus are growing in size rapidly. Increased blood volume takes an already compressed venous system below the abdomen. The increased plasma volume along with compression of the inferior vena cava can further dilate veins in the lower body, further contributing to the development of varicose veins.

Hormonal Effects on Venous Walls

Progesterone secreted during pregnancy makes veins more fragile. The weakened veins dilate and stretch more to accommodate both the increase in blood volume and pooling caused by compression of the inferior vena cava. The effects are like the thinning of a balloon when there is too much air blown into it. Superficial spider veins may rupture, creating bruising and superficial hemorrhages under the skin. This occurrence is also a contributing factor in the development of varicose veins during pregnancy.

How to Prevent or Treat Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

The good news is that in most cases, varicose veins disappear within three to four months after delivery of your newborn baby. Sometimes, such as multiple pregnancies and genetic predisposition, they may become permanent. Regardless, there are many treatments available to eliminate or diminish their appearance after pregnancy. There are also several methods you can use to prevent and lessen their appearance during pregnancy:

  • Regular low impact cardiac exercise during pregnancy will increase circulation and prevent blood from pooling in the lower legs.
  • Frequent rest periods, including elevating the legs above the level of your heart can also increase blood flow.
  • The use of compression stockings during daily activities can also deter blood from pooling in the extremities. Be sure to fit compression stockings when your legs are the least swollen to ensure the proper fit. Also, compression stockings should not be tight around the upper legs but should gradually tighten around the ankles.
  • Avoid prolonged sitting or standing and crossing your legs above at the knees to maintain open channels for venous return from the lower legs.

When to Notify your Doctor or Vein Specialist

Varicose veins during pregnancy are seldom harmful and usually resolve on their own after delivery. You should, however, notify your doctor or vein specialist if they do not resolve within several months after delivery. Seek immediate treatment if the skin around the area becomes discolored or hot to the touch. Also, notify your doctor if inflammation, redness, and fever occur. Contact us online or call The Vein Centre today 615-269-9007 for all your vein needs!


Pelvic Venous Insufficiency (PVI): Affecting Millions of Women

By | Vein Health, Vein Therapy

According to the American Journal of Radiology, pelvic pain is a common condition, which affects millions of women worldwide. It accounts for 25% of all hysterectomies and 33% of all investigative laparoscopic procedures performed for pelvic pain. Leading causes of pelvic pain in women include pelvic congestion syndrome or PCS and pelvic venous insufficiency or PVI. PVI often leads to PCS, which is a chronic condition causing severe pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen, back, hips, and thighs.

What Is Pelvic Venous Insufficiency?

Pelvic insufficiency results when circulation in the major pelvic veins is compromised. Blood pools within the venous system causing pressure on the walls of the veins. Over time, the veins swell and dilate to accommodate blood flow. The one-way valves in the veins weaken allowing blood to flow backwards and pool, causing further pressure on already weakened venous walls. The venous swelling and pressure on adjacent organs and tissues lead to pelvic congestion syndrome or PCS. If left untreated, damage to the veins may become permanent and surgical procedures are needed to correct the problem.

Am I at Risk for Pelvic Insufficiency?

Women of childbearing age, between 20 and 45 years of age are most at risk for PVI. Multiple pregnancies also increase the risk. PVI is also associated with obesity and rapid weight gain due to the increased weight of the fetus, uterus, and abdominal tissues pressing on pelvic veins. Other risk factors include blood clots and a history of varicose veins.

How do I know if I have Pelvic Venous Insufficiency?

Like varicose veins, pelvic venous insufficiency can have no symptoms. Most often, possible symptoms include severe, dull pain in the pelvic area, lower back, buttocks and thighs. Heaviness is often associated with the pain, and menstruation and prolonged standing tend to worsen the symptoms. Painful intercourse and urinary symptoms may also occur. Dilating venous tissues also release neuro-transmitting chemicals, leading to additional depression and anxiety in conjunction with the pain.

Tests for PVI include soft tissue imaging with and without dye. The most common include:

• Ultrasounds to visualize the venous structure around abdominal and reproductive organs. Doppler ultrasounds enable the physician to visualize venous circulation in real time.
• CT Scans provide the opportunity for measuring the diameters of affected veins in order to diagnose the potential severity of the condition.
• MRI’s with and without contrast provide an excellent diagnostic tool to examine the extent of blood pooling and congestion in affected areas.
• Venography is an invasive procedure performed when non-invasive imaging is not sufficient to provide a definite diagnosis. Contrast dye is injected via catheter directly into pelvic veins and measurements are taken to diagnose the severity of venous dilation.

How is PVI Treated?

Non-surgical treatment of PVI and PCS are aimed at treating ovarian dysfunction. Hormonal management with progesterone based birth control pills or treatments are used for their contracting effects on the veins. In some cases, estrogen-inhibiting implants are used in the management of PVI.

Interventional and surgical options are aimed at correcting pelvic vein engorgement and include ligating affected veins or blocking blood flow to the affected area by embolization. In severe and debilitating cases not responding to medical or less invasive surgical treatments, full or partial hysterectomies may be required to prevent irreversible tissue damage.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms indicative of PVI, your primary doctor or OBGYN may refer you to a venous specialist for further testing and management of your symptoms. The vein specialists at The Vein Centre will assist you in making the best possible decisions specific to your case. Contact us or call The Vein Centre today at 615-269-9007!

safe vein exercise

How to Safely Exercise with Varicose Veins

By | Vein Health, Vein Therapy

Exercising Safely 

Improving circulation and heart health is a primary benefit of a regular exercise program. Exercise improves muscle tone in your legs, which helps to pump blood back to your heart. Regular, low impact, and cardiovascular exercise can even help reduce the appearance and alleviate symptoms of varicose veins.

If you have varicose veins, it is important to check with your doctor prior to starting an exercise program. Based on your individual case, your doctor will advise you on which types of exercises to avoid. As a general rule, people with varicose veins may benefit from regular exercises aimed at strengthening the calf muscles.

Which Types of Exercises Should I do?

Low impact cardiovascular or weight-bearing exercises are best if you have varicose veins.

Walking is both a very natural and low impact exercise for the heart and lower legs. Taking a brisk walk outside burns calories, strengthens the leg muscles associated with circulating venous blood, and provides fresh air and access to vitamin D producing sunlight. A brisk 30-minute walk daily may even reduce the appearance of varicose veins and prevent new ones.

Bike Riding, Cardio Machines, and Ellipticals are also good alternatives for low impact exercising. It is best to combine bike riding with other forms of exercise due to the sitting nature of the exercise, however, bike riding also strengthens the calves and buttocks increasing circulation in both the upper and lower legs. Resistance levels on cardio machines can also be adjusted for varying intensities. Caution should be taken with heavy resistance due to strain on the venous walls. If pain is experienced during the activity, you should decrease the resistance or stop the activity. If the pain does not improve or worsens, you should notify your doctor.

Recommended Static Exercises assist in building muscle tone and strength, which act as natural compression for swollen veins. Static exercises using the weight of your legs as leverage are generally enough to increase tone and circulation to the legs. Examples of these exercises include leg lifts and calf raises with no weights or light ankle weights. Bicycle legs performed by lying flat on your back and moving your legs in a bicycle type motion use the weight of your own legs to build strength and endurance.

Which Type of Exercises Should I Avoid?

Heavy Weight Lifting, Lunges, and Squats place an added strain and pressure on venous walls in the legs. You have probably noticed bulging veins on people that lift heavy weights. The same amount of strain placed on varicose veins can worsen the condition. Weight lifting does have benefits in an exercise program, such as increasing bone density, boosting metabolism, and increasing circulation. If you do weight lift, a circuit training program alternating cardio and lifting will reduce the strain on vein walls. Remember to use lighter weights or your own body weight as resistance and maintain proper breathing while lifting. Discontinue the activity if veins become worse or painful.

Running is excellent for cardiovascular health, however, it is treacherous on the joints and legs due to its high impact. Running on asphalt or concrete is even worse if you have varicose veins. If your veins aren’t painful and you prefer running, try running on softer surfaces, such as grass or rubberized tracks.

When to Consult a Specialist

Your vein specialist is your primary resource when choosing an exercise program appropriate for your needs. Consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program and after vein procedures to determine your best course of action. Always consult your specialist for changes in pain or worsening of the condition.

Contact us online or call The Vein Centre today for more information and to schedule a consultation!

Managing Varicose Veins Diabetics

Managing Varicose Veins in Diabetics

By | Vein Health

What If I have Diabetes and Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins occur when venous valves are unable to direct a one-way flow back to the heart. When the valves become compromised, blood may remain stagnant or even leak back into the affected area.  The result is very similar to traffic flowing in both ways down a one-way street.  Blood pools in the veins below the valves and the walls weaken and stretch to accommodate the extra fluid.

Risk factors for varicose veins include genetics, age, gender, pregnancy, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles.  Diabetes is not a direct risk factor; however, it can lead to further complications in people prone to their development.

Uncontrolled Diabetes Makes Varicose Veins Worse

Consider the consistency of sugary liquids.  The sweeter they are, the stickier they are.  High levels of glucose in the blood has the same effect as it travels through the circulatory system. Uncontrolled levels of blood glucose damage the veins and can delay blood passing through some smaller blood vessels in the legs and feet.  The sugary consistency of the blood may cause plaques to form within arteries and veins already compromised by varicosities.  This combination may lead to blood clots and more swelling, discomfort and additional problems with blood flow.

Injuries Are More Prone to Infection

Higher sugar content provides an excellent feeding ground for bacteria and other organisms. Bumping or scratching areas surrounding varicosities provide excellent entry points for microorganisms, where they will feast on the sugary content of the blood pooled in those areas and rapidly reproduce.  In addition, the circulation may already be affected so that white blood cells do not quickly arrive to fight the infection.  Nerve endings may become damaged in Diabetics, meaning they may not feel cuts, bumps, or scrapes when they occur, increasing the odds of exposure and infection.  Diabetics with varicose veins need to inspect these areas regularly for injuries.  Skin should be kept well moisturized, and protective clothing should be worn when performing activities, such as yard work or other work with a potential for injuries.

Is Treatment for Varicose Veins Different for Diabetics?

Preliminary management of varicose veins in diabetics is essentially similar, however, the primary emphasis is on maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through monitoring, diet, oral medication, and insulin as needed.  Non-invasive treatment options for varicose veins revolve around maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as exercise, limiting salt intake, elevating the legs while at rest, and avoiding injury.  Therefore, recommendations for managing Diabetes are very similar to those for managing varicose veins.

Before performing any invasive procedures, A1C testing is indicated to monitor blood sugar ranges over time before the procedure.  Diabetic patients with varicose veins wishing to have venous procedures should discuss their options with their primary care or internal medicine provider. Your primary doctor may contact the vascular surgeon to communicate that appropriate blood sugar levels are achieved and maintained. Proper evaluation will determine the best individual treatment options that will be performed to minimize risks and optimize results. Visits following the procedure may be more frequent to minimize complications.

If you have any questions or concerns about your varicose veins, contact The Vein Centre today!

cosmetic problem

Why Varicose Veins are More Than a Cosmetic Problem

By | Vein Health, Vein Surgery

You might think that varicose veins appear to be cosmetic problem, but these unsightly and unattractive veins can cause potentially dangerous health problems.

The Ugly Truth


Dismissing varicose veins as “just cosmetic” is bad for your health. Without consulting your doctor, there is really no way to know if you have some kind of vein disease. Varicose veins are bulging, twisted veins that can be seen and felt right under the skin. Spider veins are a smaller version of varicose veins that can appear as red or blue lines in a webbed pattern. Varicose veins and spider veins differ, largely because varicose veins can lead to more serious health problems.

If your varicose veins are left untreated, dangers can occur such as:

Leg swelling– As pressure builds up in the veins, fluid from the blood can leak into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling.

Skin Ulcers– Varicose veins can cause swelling, which over time can result in skin changes. Because of this, skin can become less likely to heal even from minor injuries.

Deep Vein Thrombosis– Deep vein thrombosis is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical treatment. The leg can be swollen, warm, and painful. There is a risk in that part of the blood clot may break off and move into the lungs, causing a life threatening condition called pulmonary embolism.

Lymphedema– Lymphedema can occur when lymph builds up in your body’s soft tissues. Lymph is a fluid that contains white blood cells that defend against germs. Blockage of the lymphatic vessels leads to fluid retention.

Fortunately, symptoms can be relieved and complications can be prevented through a variety of treatment options today. At The Vein Centre, we offer minimally invasive procedures that eliminate unsightly, uncomfortable veins without a major disruption to your daily schedule. To learn more about your treatment options, contact The Vein Centre today at 615-269-9007.

facial veins

Facial Veins: Causes and Treatment

By | Vein Treatments

Facial veins are commonly found on the face around the nose and cheeks. These small veins tend to be reddish or purple and are often referred to as “capillary veins” or “broken veins.”

How Facial Veins Develop

There are many different factors that can contribute to facial veins including:

  1. Sun exposure. UV rays from the sun cause collagen to break down. This can lead to the appearance of spider veins, more common among those with lighter skin.
  2. As we age, our skin gets thinner and veins weaken.
  3. Heredity and genetics. Facial veins tend to run in families.
  4. Those who suffer a facial injury such as bruising can lead to prominent veins on the face. Also, any type of pressure that is put on the veins in the face including frequent sneezing caused by allergies or vomiting can contribute to facial veins.
  5. Medical conditions. Having certain medical conditions including rosacea, may contribute to the development of facial veins.
  6. Hormones and pregnancy. Since the body produces more estrogen during pregnancy, women may suffer vein weakness. During pregnancy, blood flow is also increased; therefore a woman’s veins may become enlarged, causing blood to clog the vessels.

Treatment for Facial Veins

The vein specialists at The Vein Centre can help treat facial veins through a variety of different treatments. Similar to spider veins, the treatment for facial veins can be laser treatment. Laser treatment is a non-invasive treatment, which involves using the heat of the laser to injure the vein, forming scar tissue. The scar tissue closes the vein, which causes it to lose its blood supply and eventually be absorbed by the body. It typically takes more than one laser treatment for desired results. Laser treatment of spider veins is very effective and safe. 

Visit The Vein Centre Today! 

If you have noticed the appearance of abnormal veins on your face, treating them early is highly recommended. Visit The Vein Centre today for an accurate diagnosis and more information about the treatments we offer.


Varicose Veins Might Be a Sign of Life-Threatening Blood Clots

By | Vein Health

Are varicose veins a warning sign of potentially deadly blood clots?

Varicose veins, usually caused by pregnancy or the effects of age weakening the blood vessels, are common. They are swollen, twisted veins that can be seen just under the surface of the skin. Weakened valves and veins can increase the blood pressure in a person’s legs, which can cause varicose veins. In the United States, nearly 23% of adults have the condition, which doctors rarely associate with health risks.

Blood Clots

There are two types of blood clots: superficial blood clots, also called phlebitis, and deep clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When a deep clot in the leg travels to the lugs, this is called a pulmonary embolus, which can be fatal. Varicose veins increase the risk for superficial phlebitis.

Symptoms of Blood Clots in the Legs

Symptoms of blood clots in the leg occur because blood clots block the blood flow in the vein in which it forms. Usually blood flows through the veins on its way back to the heart. When you develop a blood clot, the blood can’t get past the clot on it’s way back to the heart and so there is a backlog of blood and congestion in the leg. Symptoms of blood clots include deep leg pain and sudden swelling. If the clot moves to the lungs, chest pain and shortness of breath can develop.

Facts about Blood Clots:

  • Deep vein blood clots can dislodge and travel to the lungs. This is called pulmonary embolism.
  • There are more deaths from pulmonary embolism than breast cancer, AIDS and car accidents combined.
  • Deep calf or thigh pain and swelling of the leg are signs of deep vein thrombosis.
  • Blood clots also arise in varicose veins. This is called superficial phlebitis.
  • Superficial phlebitis usually feels like a hard, tender lump on your lug.

It’s very important to be aware of symptoms of blood clots in the legs. This way medical attention can be obtained and a diagnosis made. If you think you may have a blood clot, seek immediate medical attention. If you are looking for varicose vein removal options, varicose vein surgery, or are concerned about deep vein thrombosis, contact The Vein Centre today. Our vein specialists know how to create a personalized treatment plan to treat your leg pain and make you feel and look your best.

leg pain

What Your Leg Pain is Telling You

By | Vein Health

What is leg pain?

Leg pain is any type of discomfort in the leg, beginning at the hip joint down to your heels. Your legs are made up of joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels. Leg pain can be brief or ongoing, and can affect your entire leg depending on how serious the injury or condition is you may have.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms inside a large vein, often in the calf of thigh. If this clot becomes dislodged, it can travel to the lungs or brain, causing a stroke or pulmonary embolism. DVT in the leg causes redness, tenderness, and swelling of the leg. The pain has been described as feeling like a muscle cramp or as soreness.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when the leg veins do not allow blood to travel back to the heart. Problems with the valves in the veins can cause the blood to flow in both directions, and causes blood in the legs to pool. If chronic venous insufficiency is left untreated, pain, swelling, and leg ulcers may result.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that often develop as you age. Circulation slows down in your veins and causes these veins to appear twisted and bulge. Symptoms of varicose veins include muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs, worsted pain after sitting or standing for a long period of time, as well as itching.

When to Seek Medical Care

Seek immediate emergency medical care if you are experiencing inflammation, discoloration, or ulceration of the skin or swelling of the calf. If you have trouble breathing, you may have a blood clot. If your doctor confirms that your aching legs are the result of varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, then they may refer you to a vein specialist. Convention treatments for varicose veins range from wearing compression stockings or tights to a number of surgical options. For DVT, medication such as blood thinners may do the trick, but in some cases, you may need surgery. At The Vein Centre, our surgeons have over 100 years combined vein expertise and are here to help you look and feel your best. To find out more, give us a call at 615-271-9013!

vein treatments evolved

How Vein Treatments Have Evolved Over The Years

By | Vein Health, Vein Surgery, Vein Therapy, Vein Treatments

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins have been around since the beginning of time and we have been trying to find relief and treatment for centuries. Fortunately, treatments have evolved considerably from the early days. One of the very first treatment methods used to treat varicose veins was compression therapy, as well as undergoing surgery to physically remove the swollen vein with a scalpel. Varicose veins would be dissected through a small incision with no aesthetic. This old-age treatment method was terrifying and very painful. Compression therapy is still used today along with new modern technology to eliminate varicose veins.

The old way of thinking was that varicose veins were just a “cosmetic” problem or just a sign of “growing older.” Most general doctors quickly learned that varicose veins are a medical condition that requires a specialist. Many doctors now refer their patients out to vein treatment clinics like The Vein Centre.

Vein Treatments

The three most common modern types of vein treatment are:

  1. Sclerotherapy
  2. Endovenous Laser Treatment
  3. Pulsed Light Therapy

First, sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The solution causes the vein to shrink, and then dissolve over a period of weeks. The body will naturally absorb the treated vein.

Second, in endovenous laser treatment, a thin fiber is inserted into the damaged vein through a very small entry point in the skin. A laser light is emitted through the fiber, as the fiber is pulled back though the vein.

Third, pulsed light therapy is primarily used for spider veins, which are varicose capillaries, but are smaller in in diameter than regular veins. Pulsed light is used to heat them from the outside and cause them to ablate.

The Vein Centre offers all three of these vein treatments. In all three treatments, the ablated blood vessels are reabsorbed by the body, leaving no trace. You should first expect to see results within a few weeks of the procedure.

The recovery time in all three modern vein treatments is remarkably fast. Many people return to work and their normal activities the same or following day of the procedure.

Modern vein treatments have evolved tremendously since the very first procedures. Today, treatments are now quick, painless and require no down time. To learn more about the vein services we offer, give us a call today at 615-271-9013!

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