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Varicose Veins Affect More Than Appearances

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Complications from Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are large, twisted, clustered visible veins.  They commonly appear in the legs and lower body because of gravity and blood pooling.  Unlike arteries, vein walls do not contract to push blood flow back through the lower body and to the heart.  Venous circulation involves the use of muscles and one-way valves to move blood in the right direction.

Different factors can affect returning blood flow from the lower body producing effects similar to a traffic jam.  Faulty valves can cause blood to travel in two directions causing congestion and stretching of venous tissue.  As we age, tissues in the veins are not as supple and elastic.

Sedentary lifestyles function as double-edged swords for people with varicose veins.  The pelvic angle has a constricting effect.  In addition, crossing the legs at the knees, and inactivity lessen the muscle contractions needed to keep the blood flowing.

Without treatment and lifestyle changes, varicose veins may lead to more severe illnesses and complications, potentially compromising other organs.

Swelling and Inflammation

As blood continues to pool in the legs, the resistance encountered against vein walls pushes water content into adjacent tissues.  This results in swelling, particularly around the lower legs, feet, and ankles.  Fluid consistency is felt upon pressing the skin around the affected area.  Indentations, known as pitting, are seen for seconds after release.  Fluid weight and pressure on surrounding tissues and nerve endings lead to pain, fatigue, and leg heaviness.  Swelling also occurs with circulatory disorders and heart failure.  Fluctuations in weight of more than a couple of pounds within a short period indicate additional fluid retention.

Sores, Ulcers, and Eczema

As fluid continues to build within the veins and tissues, pressure is exerted under the skin.  Fluid then begins seeping from the surface.  The continued moisture eventually leads to irritation or eczema.  The skin will become itchy, scaly, and red.  Blisters may also form and rupture leading to sores.  Excess moisture causes the tissues to breakdown forming ulcers.  Continued exposure and lack of circulation will eventually lead to skin death around the affected areas. Illnesses, which compromise circulation, such as Diabetes and vascular diseases, increase the speed at which tissue damage and infection occurs.

Bleeding and Bruising

Superficial varicose veins, termed spider veins, hold a fair amount of excess blood.  Small cuts, bumps, and scrapes lead to excessive bleeding and bruising.  The delicate skin surrounding these areas are also more prone to injuries.  Poor circulation can slow the time they take to heal and create a portal for infection. Dilated capillaries can also spontaneously burst and lead to bruising and blood pockets under the skin.

Hard Discolored Skin

Prolonged fluid build-up and swelling cause the skin to take on a drum-like appearance.  The area becomes hardened and dark discolorations occur.  Areas most commonly affected include the calves and ankles. The condition becomes painful and may impair walking. 

Blood Clots

Stagnated blood in the veins leads to blood clots, which can block oxygen and vital nutrients from reaching other cells and tissues.  This results in pain, loss of feeling, impaired function, and tissue death.  Surgery is required to restore circulation, and amputation is used as a last resort. Blood clots located in deep veins can become dislodged. Once this happens, they can become lodged in other areas of the body affecting major organs.  Clots lodging in the lungs, heart, and brain may lead to a heart attack, respiratory failure, stroke, and sudden death. Life-threatening complications are a rare occurrence. Painful enlarged calves are a telltale symptom, and the pain worsens when the foot is flexed.

Phlebitis

Inflammation within the vein, itself, is known as phlebitis. Varicose veins are a likely culprit of the condition.  Phlebitis is very painful and occurs with or without clotting.  Heat and streaking accompany the inflammatory response.  Untreated, infection can spread into the blood traveling to the kidneys and other organs.  Once the infection becomes widespread, the condition is known as sepsis.

Poor Circulation

More blood trapped in the veins means there is less blood available to carry life-giving nutrients to other tissues.  The heart works harder to feed hungry organs leading to fatigue. Leg heaviness contributes to feeling like you are in slow motion. Varicose veins are also associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyles, further contributing to sluggishness.  This creates a vicious cycle in which the symptoms feed the condition.

Varicose veins do not only affect your appearance. Complications can affect your quality of life, health, mobility, and vital functions.  Strategies to alleviate associated symptoms include modifications in diet, exercise, rest, clothing, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Treatments range from minimally invasive laser surgery, radiologic intervention, and saline injections to surgical procedures, such as ligating and stripping the veins.  More invasive procedures are usually reserved for persons experiencing symptoms or complications.

What to Expect Before and After Venous Ligation and Stripping

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Venous ligation, as the name implies, essentially means tying off varicose veins through small incisions made in the skin at the affected areas.  Vein stripping refers to the removal of larger varicose veins in a similar manner.  Both procedures are usually done in outpatient surgery centers or in a hospital setting.  Many times, both procedures are included in one surgery. Venous ligation is often done in areas where blood pooling occurs due to the weakened veins, while stripping and removal are performed to eliminate more tortuous vessels. This type of surgical intervention is often performed to both treat and reduce the reoccurrence of varicose veins.  These procedures are considered surgical procedures, and will require you to follow guidelines to both prepare and recover from the surgery.

 

How do I prepare for Venous Ligation and Stripping?

The first step to preparing for venous surgery is to discuss all your options with your vein specialist.  He or she will more than likely perform a full history and physical, including a full medical and medication history.  Laboratory tests will also be performed to identify potential risks, such as hemorrhage, infection, and potential complications from the anesthetics used during the procedure.  Ultrasounds and other diagnostic testing will also be performed to pin point the affected areas and determine the proper course of surgery.  Often times the areas are marked with ink the day before the surgery.

Some medicines may need to be temporarily stopped before the procedure.  These may include blood thinners, such as coumadin, and non-steroidal pain medications, such as Motrin, Advil, and Aleve. Daily aspirin regimens will also be temporarily discontinued prior to the procedure and for a time period after. Heart, blood pressure, and diabetes medications are taken with a small amount of water before the procedure and continued immediately thereafter. Your vein specialist will discuss your presurgical plan with you during your consultations before the surgery.

 

What Happens After the Surgery?

Venous ligation and stripping are generally shorter and uncomplicated procedures, and patients are usually sent home the same day.  In more severe instances, a short hospital stay may be required.  A family member or friend will need to be available for transportation after the surgery and should remain with you for a period of 24 hours in case of complications immediately after.

Severe pain is unlikely, but you may experience burning and tingling after the surgery. If numbness and discolorations are noted to unaffected areas after the procedure, it is important to notify your vein surgeon.  For general discomfort, mild painkillers, such as ibuprofen are usually prescribed or recommended.

You will more than likely come home with dressings after the surgery.  Those should not be changed for 1 to 2 days after the procedure unless they become soiled.  Compression stockings should also be worn continuously after the procedure for at least three days.  The stockings should only be taken off when showering or sleeping during that time.

Avoid prolonged sitting or standing after the procedure and exercise regimens can be generally resumed one to two weeks after.  Walking short distances is generally indicted 24 to 48 hours after surgery, and the intensity and duration of your walks can be increased as swelling, pain, and stiffness are relieved.  You may usually resume driving 48 hours after surgery.

Treatment Procedures for Varicose Veins - The Vein Centre

Treatment Procedures for Varicose Veins

By | Uncategorized, Vein Health, Vein Surgery, Vein Treatments

Treatment choices for varicose veins depend on several factors:

  • Whether you are seeking treatment for cosmetic benefits.
  • Whether your varicose veins are causing pain or discomfort.
  • The presence of skin changes, such as ulcers, or other signs of poor circulation.
  • Insurance coverage for treatment procedures.

While in many cases, treatment choices are a matter of personal preference, there are instances where certain invasive treatment options become necessary. Here is an overview of some of the most common procedures used to treat varicose veins:

Sclerotherapy

There are two types of sclerotherapy depending on the severity and size of the varicosities:

  • Standard sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into the veins, which lead to scarring and closing of the specific area. Once closed, blood can no longer pool in the area, causing the veins to shrink and fade over a period of one month. In some cases, the vein must be injected more than one time for the procedure to be effective. Standard sclerotherapy can be performed in your vein specialist’s office without the need for anesthesia.
  • Foam Sclerotherapy is commonly reserved for large varicosities or veins not responding to standard sclerotherapy. The procedure is very similar; however, a foam solution is used as a sealant to close the affected veins.

Laser Surgery

Laser surgery for varicose veins is considered a newer technological advancement. This procedure involves the use for lasers to emit high frequency light pulses into the affected vein. Over time, treated veins will begin to fade and eventually disappear. Treatments may need to be repeated for the best outcome. Treatment can be performed in your vein specialist’s office without anesthesia.

Catheter Assisted Radio Frequency or Laser Energy Procedures (Ablation)

This procedure uses a catheter heated by radio frequencies of laser energy to heat seal the affected vein. A small catheter is introduced into the vein, which is heated; it is then removed, which cauterizes, or seals, the varicose vein. This treatment is usually reserved for large varicosities with associated skin changes or producing pain and discomfort. The procedure is usually performed by a vein specialist certified in interventional radiology or an interventional radiologist in an outpatient setting. Although it is minimally invasive, the affected area is prepped and draped to prevent infection. A topical anesthetic is used to minimize discomfort.

Ligation and Vein Stripping

The procedure uses a series of small incisions to access the affected vein and ligate, or tie off, and remove the affected vessel. Removal of the affected areas does not affect circulation, as larger veins in the legs will pick up the slack. Vascular surgeons perform the procedure in either an outpatient surgery suite or in an operating room depending on which veins are affected. Local, regional, and general anesthesia may be used depending on risk factors and size and severity of the affected veins.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Ambulatory phlebectomy is similar to vein stripping, except on a much smaller scale. The procedure is reserved for more superficial and smaller varicosities. Pieces of the affected vein are removed, utilizing small puncture sites in the skin. Local anesthesia specific to the puncture sites is used in the procedure. Minimal scarring is expected, and recovery time is generally shorter than in ligation and stripping procedures. Ambulatory phlebectomy may be performed in an outpatient surgery center or your vein specialist’s office, if equipped.

Endoscopic Vein Surgery

Endoscopic vein surgery is generally reserved for varicose veins with leg ulcers or associated circulatory symptoms. It is also used in cases unresponsive to other treatments. The procedure involves the insertion of a thin video camera in the affected area and then uses small incisions to close and remove the varicosities. The procedure is generally performed in endoscopic outpatient surgery centers under conscious sedation.

There are various options for the treatment of varicose veins depending on the severity, associated symptoms, and cosmetic benefits. Prior to discussing these options, it is important to review your health insurance options for coverage. Your vein specialist is the best person to discuss your individual cases and preference, and he or she can provide the most appropriate options for your case.

Peripheral Vascular Disease - Vein Center

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease? Am I at risk?

By | Uncategorized, Vein Health

Peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, occurs when circulation to areas outside the heart and brain is reduced. The term peripheral, in healthcare, refers to any structure or bodily function occurring away from the central source. The heart and lungs are the central source in our body, and our arms and legs are the peripheral. The most common causes of peripheral vascular disease are narrowing or hardening of the arteries and veins, which limit the blood flow to the outside areas of the body. If the narrowed areas occur at the knee, everything below it will also be affected and so forth.

Peripheral vascular disease can also affect circulation to organs besides the heart and brain, such as the stomach, intestines, and kidneys. When this happens, tissues are starved from oxygen and do not function properly. If the disease progresses and blood flow is cut off, the tissues will eventually die. The affected organs will fail, creating a medical emergency. PVD can also occur from vascular spasms.

Risk Factors for Peripheral Vascular Disease

According to the Center for Disease Control, 12% to 20% of people ages 60 and over get peripheral arterial disease (PAD), the most common type of PVD. This equates to roughly 8.5 million people. Risk factors for functional PAD without damage include:

  • Cold climate
  • Excessive and long exposures to vibration, such as tools and machinery
  • Prolonged stress
  • Certain drugs and medications

The organic form of PVD involves damage to the blood vessels by plaque deposits or thickening of the vessel walls. Risk Factors for this type of PVD include:

  • Smoking, causing chronic constriction of blood vessels
  • Uncontrolled Diabetes, causing sticky build up within the vessels for blood clots to adhere to
  • High cholesterol levels, causing fat deposits within the arteries and veins
  • Infections, leading to chronic inflammation of blood vessels
  • Major injuries involving blood vessels, leading to structural abnormalities

Increased risk factors for getting the disease also include

  • History of blood clots or strokes
  • Prior history of heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Family history of the condition

Signs and Symptoms of PVD.

Symptoms of PVD happen as a result of the lack of oxygen and nutrients to tissues from decreased blood flow.  A good example is to describe how it feels when your hand or foot is asleep. Chances are there is pain, numbness, and tingling. The skin may also lose its pink and healthy appearance, and even turn blue from lack of oxygen. Over time you may lose feeling in the area and may not know if you have cut or injured yourself, leading to slow healing and infections. If PVD involves internal organs, you will experience signs and symptoms related to poor organ function.

Lifestyle Changes that Prevent PVD

If you fall into a risk category for PVD, there are several things you can do to help prevent or slow the process of developing the condition: quit smoking, adopt a low fat diet, limit foods high in cholesterol, and manage your blood sugar if you are diabetic. 

If you feel that you are at risk, or are developing signs and symptoms of the condition, your Tennessee vein specialists at The Vein Centre can help you find the most appropriate treatment for your situation.

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Keep your Veins Healthy this Holiday Season

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The holiday season is known as the most wonderful time of the year! It’s filled with delicious meals, sweet treats, laughter, and family and friends. While there are many things to enjoy there is also a lot of added stress during this time of year. Combining these factors with varicose veins can be damaging and worsen your symptoms. Here are three ways to keep your veins healthy through a holiday feast.

Watch your Calorie Intake:

An increase in calories and salt will result in weight gain and bloating. This is almost impossible to avoid during the holidays. The problem with weight gain is that it puts a strain on your veins which makes it harder to send blood flow back to your heart. This pressure increases the valves inside your veins making them more susceptible to leakage and causing a bulge of varicose veins.

Increase Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is essential for making collagen and elastin. These are vital connective tissues that work to keep your veins strong and toned. There are plenty of foods to help strengthen your veins and improve your circulation. Some vitamin C foods to add to your holiday meal include oranges, kale, mango, broccoli, pineapple, strawberries, and bell peppers. Simply incorporating these items into your meal can produce positive results.

Stay Hydrated:

Staying hydrated is the most important aspect in maintaining healthy veins. Especially during the holidays where alcohol is often consumed, drinking plenty of water will keep you from being dehydrated. The main drinks to avoid during the holidays include coffee, alcohol, and soda.

Varicose veins don’t have to impair your holiday meals. In moderation and incorporating the right foods and drinks can keep you veins healthy this holiday season. If you have any questions contact The Vein Centre, today! 615-269-9007. Happy Holidays!

Mistakes to Avoid when Treating Veins

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Varicose veins and spider veins most often develop on our legs and thighs as we grow older.  Approximately 1 in 4 adults in the United States are affected by varicose veins. This type of vein condition can cause a patient to experience swelling, aching, and painful legs.  When treating your veins, it’s important to avoid making the following mistakes:

  1. Inadequate Evaluation of Veins:

    First, do not self-diagnose. You should be properly seen and evaluated by a doctor. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) mimics the symptoms of varicose veins. DVT are blood clots that form deep in the vein and can cause serious problems. Thus, a self-diagnosis or delay in treatment can seriously affect your well-being.

  2. Lack of Experience:

    When scheduling a vein assessment, select a physician who does their own examinations and uses state-of-the-art ultrasound technology, otherwise known as a duplex ultrasound. This is important because an ultrasound will provide the best information about the blood flow inside the vessels. The duplex ultrasound is able to precisely measure the blood flow in the deeper veins and clearly shows connections of any underlying problem with what is seen on the surface. A physician who performs their own examinations will be able to give you the best course of action.

  3. Specialty Physician:

    It is important to see a physician that specializes in vein treatment. Often times when an individual doesn’t see a specialist the vein treatment may focus on treating the visible veins first. When you just treat the surface vein the problem is likely to return whereas if you treat the underlying vein problem you have a higher probability of success.

  4. Wrong Treatment:

    There are various vein treatments available today. This allows physicians to address and tailor the treatments to the specific needs of each patient. However, this also means an inexperienced physician might offer the wrong treatment for a specific condition, which in turn will not be as effective for the patient.

It’s important to get a proper diagnosis for your vein problems. The Vein Centre has all board certified vascular surgeons and have 100 years of combined vein expertise. Contact The Vein Centre, today! 615-269-9007.

 

Myth or Truth: Varicose Veins

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Varicose veins are extremely common, affecting about one in four adults in the United States. They are usually found in the legs, but can appear anywhere on the body. There are a lot of myths surrounding this condition. To ensure you have the correct facts we listed the 5 most common myths surrounding varicose veins.

Myth #1: Varicose veins only appear in women.

Truth: Varicose veins appear in both men and women. Although they are more common in women, around 10-15% of men are affected. According to a new study the percentage of men who are affected tends to vary because men are less likely to seek out treatment.

Myth #2: Varicose veins are a sign of old age. 

Truth: Varicose veins have less to do with age and more to do with your genetics. Varicose veins can develop as early as 10 years old. Symptoms might not appear until later, as the condition worsens. If one parent has varicose veins then there is a 40% chance that you will also develop them. If both of your parents have them, it’s almost guaranteed that you will have varicose veins.

Myth #3: Treatment is expensive and not covered by insurance.

Truth: This myth stems from the notion that varicose veins are a cosmetic issue. The majority of people with varicose veins are suffering from an underlying venous condition. When this is the case most insurance providers will cover the procedure to have them removed.

Myth #4: Spider veins are varicose veins.

Truth: Spider veins are NOT varicose veins. Generally, spider veins are a cosmetic issue. They are smaller red and purple dilated veins in the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are large swollen blood vessels in the fat between muscle and skin that twist and turn.

Myth #5: Exercise will make varicose veins worse.

Truth: There is no proof that exercise will make varicose veins worse. In most cases, exercise is the best option to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Studies have found that people suffering from deep venous insufficiency benefit from activities that engage their calf muscles such as walking. These activities create contractions that force blood up to the center of the body.

If you’re interested in treating varicose veins, contact The Vein Centre, today. 615-269-9007.

spider veins Nashville

Varicose Veins: Where Do They Come From?

By | Uncategorized, Vein Health

Did you know varicose veins are one of the most common ailments in the western world?  23% of the United States adult population has been diagnosed with varicose veins.

Facts about varicose veins:

  • Who is most likely to get them?
    • Varicose veins are far more common in women than men.
    • 22 million American women, ages 40 – 80, suffer from varicose veins.
  • How did I get varicose veins?
    • In over 80 percent of cases, genetics are the primary cause.
  • Will I will get more in the future?
    • Yes! If you have them, they tend to get worse as you age.
  • Will my children be at risk for developing them?
    • You are more likely to get varicose veins if members of your family have them.

It may be a common misconception that being in shape and getting regular exercise will prevent varicose veins, but sadly, this is not true. If you have varicose veins, regular exercise will help ease the symptoms, but it will not actually prevent them. Genetics determine if you are redisposed to get varicose veins. Olympic Gold medal winner (now TV host) Summer Sanders can attest to this truth. Like her mother, Summer and millions of others have varicose veins despite being in excellent shape.

Risk factors for varicose veins are categorized as environmental or inherited. Environmental factors include pregnancy, age, sex, obesity, and occupations that involve lengthy periods of standing. The main inherited factor is family history.  If you’re predisposed genetically to varicose veins, there are things you can do to minimize, or delay them. It is extremely common for women to notice varicose veins appear, or become more severe after they become pregnant.  With each additional pregnancy they can get larger and more painful. The reason for this is because as the baby and uterus become larger, it increases the amount of pressure placed on the inferior vena cava.  This large vein is located on the right side of your body, which places a lot of pressure on every vein in your body, including your legs. Furthermore, when you are pregnant the amount of blood in your entire body soars, which places more pressure on your veins.

The good news is there are various safe and successful treatment methods that can help manage the pain and eliminate varicose veins. Practicing a healthy lifestyle will not prevent them from popping up, but it will help them from getting worse and to manage the pain that can accompany them.

 

It is important to seek a qualified specialist for this treatment.  The surgeons at The Vein Centre are all board certified vascular surgeons and have 100 years of combined vein expertise. The Vein Centre has three convenient locations throughout Middle Tennessee. If you are sick of living with painful and unsightly varicose veins, contact us today.

Varicose veins

Venous Diseases | Who Is At Risk For Vein Diseases?

By | Uncategorized, Vein Surgery, Vein Therapy, Vein Treatments

People Who Are At Risk Of Venous Diseases
Many things can increase your risk for varicose veins and venous disease. Carrying extra weight on your body, pregnancy, having a lack of movement and aging are all possible causes of venous disease. Having a family history of varicose veins and vein disease can also play a role in whether you will have these problems too.

Carrying heavy weight around the pelvis can contribute to vein problems, as can abdominal tumors, which can elevate pressure that leads to varicose veins. Working in an environment that requires you to stand for long periods of time may also add pressure to the veins. Patients who have cardiovascular disease in addition to varicose veins are at higher risk for developing other vein problems, such as high blood pressure. Other vein issues are correlated to varicose veins, including too much water retention, congestive heart failure, swelling in the legs, and skin infections or skin conditions. Weakened valves of the veins cause varicose veins, which usually become that way over a long period of time rather than by short-term activities, like crossing one’s legs.
Three sets of vessels comprise the circulatory system, which includes:

  • Arteries
    Arteries bring oxygen-carrying blood from the heart to the tissues. In the normal course of blood circulation, small amounts of fluid and protein leak from arteries and veins.
  • Lymphatics
    Lymphatic vessels bring protein-rich fluid back into the circulation. The third type of blood vessel is the vein.
  • Veins
    Veins bring oxygen-depleted blood from the organs and tissues to the heart and lungs, where it is re-oxygenated.

Blood is pumped through the body from the heart and returns to the heart through muscle contraction of the arms and legs. Because the venous system uses low pressure for circulation, the physical signs of venous disease sometimes require rigorous testing before your physician can come up with a diagnosis.

Diseases of the veins typically fall into two categories, which include either blockage from blood clots (thrombosis) and/or insufficient vein drainage. Read more about thrombosis and insufficient vein drainage.

Contact The Vein Centre to get a proper diagnosis of your vein problems today!

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