Capitol Vein Blog

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Don't Ignore the Risks and Dangers of Untreated Varicose Veins

Patients are not always aware of the risks and dangers of untreated varicose veins, but as a progressive medical condition, these abnormal veins can cause a multitude of problems like blood clots, skin discoloration and leg ulcers.

Varicose veins develop because the one-way valves in the leg veins become dysfunctional and unable to resist the downward pressure of gravity. As gravity keeps a steady push on the veins, blood flows down the leg instead of up, and the surface veins start to stretch and become deformed. It is much like blowing up a balloon, where enough air pressure cause the balloon to inflate, so too does the venous pressure cause leg veins to bulge.

As the flow in these enlarged surface veins is abnormal, the risk of clots increases. Phlebitis, and even DVT (deep vein clots), can ensue, some of which are life threatening. Fortunately, early treatment of venous disease can mitigate the risk of clots and improve overall leg health.

When the venous insufficiency due to these damaged valves persists, skin discoloration can follow as the pigments from the small blood cells gets deposited in the tissues. The skin may become thickened and tender leading to permanent changes. In addition, venous stasis ulcers can develop at the sites of discoloration leading to long term wound healing problems.

Early intervention to treat varicose veins is very beneficial in reducing the risks and dangers of venous disease. Commonly, saphenous vein reflux is the source of varicosities, and endovenous ablation with VNUS Closure is the gold standard in treating this condition. The procedure normalized venous flow and help prevent the progression to threatening conditions. On occasion, microphlebectomy is needed to complete the effective removal of large varicose veins to ensure the most durable result.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Knee Pain and Varicose Veins

Patients over age 50 often develop two very common causes of leg pain: venous insufficiency and osteoarthritis of the knee.  There is some overlap of symptoms with these diagnoses and the magnitude of the discomfort often limits activity for work or recreation.  Pain in the knee or the area surrounding the knee that is worse with weight bearing or change in position is often from osteoarthritis.  This pain is often worse in the morning with the initiation of walking.  Pain from venous insufficiency can be felt around the knee and down into the calf and is often associated with a sense of muscular fatigue, heaviness or leg swelling  The presence of dilated veins or skin discoloration suggests venous disease but vein problems can produce symptoms before enlarged veins are detected on the skin.  Leg swelling is often associated with venous insufficiency but also can be secondary to the diminished physical activity experienced with arthritic knee pain.

It is a misconception that eventually we all have to tolerate leg pain.  Both venous insufficiency and osteoarthritis are progressive diseases that should be actively managed to improve function and comfort of the legs.  Because these diseases are common they may co-exist.  Orthopedic evaluation and treatment is beyond the scope of this writing.  However when symptoms overlap with venous disease and knee issues, correction of the symptomatic venous insufficiency can improve the status of the leg and clarify the severity of the arthritis.  Also, prior to any orthopedic intervention it is prudent to correct significant varicose veins to reduce the risks of getting a blood clot with the orthopedic treatment. 

The treatment of varicose vein problems is done with local anesthesia in the office setting.  There is minimal downtime and almost no discomfort with the vein treatments.  See our website for a discussion of VNUS Closure and microphlebectomy.  Both procedures permit immediate return to normal activity and require only a three day period of limiting vigorous exercise while wearing support hose.  Most patients return to work the day after treatment.  Getting those legs back in shape by healing the vein issues and managing the arthritis will keep you moving and healthy!

Friday, June 16, 2017

How the Pain of Varicose Veins is Treated to Restore Your Leg Health and Comfort

Varicose veins are a common cause of leg pain, heaviness and fatigue, but may go unrecognized as both patients and physicians often discount the contribution of venous disease to these leg symptoms. It’s surprising how often treating these veins can improve the leg comfort and improve overall leg health.

Normal flow in veins carries blood up the leg against the constant push of gravity downward. Little one-way valves in the veins propel the blood upwards, but if these valves cease to function well, they cannot resist the force of gravity down the leg. Therefore, blood starts to pool in the lower leg, and just as inflating a balloon causes it to swell, increasing the pressure in varicose veins causes them to swell as well. This expansion of the veins leads to aching, tenderness, pain, and elevates the risk of blood clots (phlebitis).

You can ease some of the pain from your varicose veins by using support socks which help push the blood up the leg. However once the support hose are removed, the backflow in the veins recurs and the symptoms become evident again.

The best option to resolve the veins issues is to undergo a simple office-based procedure to seal the non-working veins and allow restoration of normal circulation. VNUS Closure is the most time-tested and successful method to close the internal feeder vein that typically causes varicose veins. This procedure is done under local anesthesia and allow return to normal activity the same day. We can also delicately remove certain surface varicose veins in the office using pinpoint access sites that do not leave permanent scarring.

The key points to remember are that:
  • ·         Varicose veins are a progressive problem and earlier intervention is best
  • ·         Varicose veins treatment is an easy office-based procedure
  • ·         Varicose vein treatments are generally well covered by your insurance plan
  • ·         Be sure to seek a vascular surgeon well experienced in the treatment of venous disease