VeinDirectory - "The Know"

"The Know" is an informational resource concerning vein treatment options. It contains valuable information for prospective patients, physicians as well as those in the vein treatment industry. We will be regularly posting educational articles, video logs and other pertinent information. We encourage your feedback and welcome any suggestions that you feel may improve the blog.

Monday, July 02, 2012
Surgery vs. Laser: Which Works Best for Varicose Veins

Unfortunately, varicose veins are an unattractive reality for roughly 60 percent of adults. For some of us, those jagged blue veins running down our legs are more than just an eyesore. Problem veins can cause swelling, cramping or aching in the legs, or may even cause a burning sensation or heaviness. When varicose veins become inflamed and tender, reducing circulation, they need to be treated.

For people with minor vein problems, simple lifestyle changes like wearing support hose (compression stockings), walking regularly and elevating your legs whenever possible can help. For people who are experiencing more severe symptoms, you should consult an experienced vein specialist to find out if surgery or laser will work best for you.

When Laser Works Best

Simple Laser Treatments: If you have tiny varicose veins and spider veins under the surface of your skin, you may see results after a few simple laser treatments. This option is appealing for patients who wish to avoid injections of sclerosing agent as used in sclerotherapy, and don’t mind that results may take longer.

Laser treatments use short pulses of high-energy light to “zap” your veins to make them form scar tissue, shrink and disappear. You may need local anesthesia to minimize any discomfort from the heat of the laser. Laser treatments are generally scheduled every six weeks or more and have minor side effects such as skin discoloration or blistering. Simple laser treatments can be very effective in treating smaller veins, but if you are prone to developing unsightly veins in a certain area, you may require treatments on new varicose veins in the future.

Endovenous Laser Treatments: If you have medium to large varicose veins, endovenous laser treatments may work best for you. These treatments are intended to close off large varicose veins rather removing them in surgery. The procedure is considered less painful than vein ligation or stripping surgery, does not require general anesthesia (full sedation), and has a shorter recovery time. For this deeper laser treatment, the doctor passes a laser fiber through a catheter into the vein, while observing how your vein responds to the laser via an ultrasound screen.

When Surgery Works Best

If you have poor circulation and your veins are too large to respond well to laser treatments or sclerotherapy (injections), a vein ligation or stripping surgery may work best for you. It is important to know that your insurance may not cover this surgery if it is done electively for cosmetic reasons.

Vein ligation or surgery involves tying off or removing segments of a problem vein. When veins are located just under the surface of the skin, the doctor may be able to make a tiny incision for vein removal, avoiding the need for stitches.

Unlike many surgical procedures, vein ligation and stripping does not usually require a hospital stay. While this can be performed as an outpatient procedure, you will probably need to take a few days away from work and your normal activities to rest and heal. Once you resume normal activities, you may be advised to wear compression stockings for a while.

Go here to learn more about treatment for varicose veins or to find a vein specialist!

Monday, June 11, 2012
Summer Spells Trouble for People with Varicose Veins: 6 Tips for Relief

For those who suffer from varicose veins, the warmer summer weather brings new problems. From increased self-consciousness about wearing leg-baring shorts or bathing suits to exacerbated symptoms, summer isn’t necessarily a favorite season. If you suffer from vein problems, you should visit a vein specialist as soon as possible to get help reducing the pain of varicose veins or to eliminate the need to hide your veiny legs. In the meantime, here are six tips to help reduce your discomfort so you can enjoy the summer months.

1.    Stay cool – Increased heat can dilate your veins and cause pain and other symptoms like aching and tenderness to worsen. Help keep your body cool by wearing loose or flowing clothes in breathable cotton whenever possible.

2.    Stay hydrated – By drinking plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day, you will not only stay cool, you’ll improve your circulation.

3.    Stay active – Regular, low-impact exercise like swimming and walking will work your calf muscles, which can improve circulation in your legs. If you sit a lot at work or home, you can help relieve pressure in your varicose veins by keeping your legs uncrossed and periodically rotating your ankles, then flexing and pointing your feet 10-15 times. Doing this at regular intervals throughout the day can reduce pressure in the legs and improve circulation.

4.    Wear support socksCompression stockings and socks are available at most medical supply stores and are now made in a variety of skin tones and fashionable colors. You can take advantage of one of the newer style trends that considers pairing shorts and sandals with tights to be fashion-forward rather than a fashion faux pas! You might opt to hide your compression stockings under some of the longer-length sundresses or loose pants that are in style this season.

5.    Use self-tanners – If you have not yet undergone vein treatment, or if your treated veins are not yet diminished, you can use self-tanners to help cover them. The bluish-purple tone of varicose and spider veins will appear less pronounced if your legs are browner overall.

6.    Keep legs elevated – Lessen the negative effects of gravity on varicose veins by putting your feet up on a box, stool or ottoman whenever you sit. If you are relaxing at home, you can also lie down on the sofa or recliner with your feet propped up. Extra pillows can be placed under your feet whenever you are lying down in bed.

Other tips for reducing vein problems include cutting down on salt consumption and losing any excess weight that might be adding too much pressure to your legs.

Monday, April 30, 2012
Zap Your Varicose Veins with Laser Treatments

Are you tired of hiding your varicose veins under long pants and skirts every summer? If you start early, laser treatments can help zap those veins in time for “shorts season.” Simple or surface laser treatments and endovenous laser therapy (ELT) are the two most effective types of laser treatments for getting rid of unsightly varicose veins. ELT works best for larger varicose veins, while surface laser treatments work well for tiny varicose and spider veins (smaller than 3 mm).

How It Works

Lasers produce strong, focused beams of light that apply intense heat to a specific area. During simple laser treatments for veins, a strong burst of heat goes through the skin to “zap” a vein and damage it, causing scar tissue to form. Over time, this scar tissue closes up the vein and cuts off the vein’s source of blood. This causes the vein to die off and, eventually, to disappear. Surface laser treatments are aimed at eradicating secondary veins that are not needed for primary circulation.

What to Expect

Many people choose simple surface laser treatments to get rid of their varicose and spider veins because recovery time is short and no incisions or needles are used. While this form of vein therapy does not require surgery or general anesthesia, you may need some local anesthesia to minimize pain from the intense heat of the laser.

Most patients require 2-5 laser treatments to effectively remove their smaller varicose or spider veins. Treatments are typically schedule 6-12 weeks apart, and each treatment session lasts for roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Most patients return to their normal activities directly after treatment. Patients can expect to experience some redness, discoloration or swelling to the treated areas. These symptoms usually disappear in a few days, though some skin discoloration (bruising) can last for up to two months. Choose a vein specialist who has had ample experience with laser to help reduce your chances of experiencing any lasting skin discoloration or other issues.

Treatment for Larger Varicose Veins

If you have larger or deeper varicose veins, or very poor blood circulation, you will likely need endovenous laser treatment (ELT), also called endovenous laser ablation (EVLT). As with simple or surface laser therapy, you will not likely require general anesthesia, but you will need local anesthesia and, possibly, a light sedative. During ELT, your doctor makes a tiny cut in your skin and passes a laser fiber through a catheter into the varicose vein. The laser fiber will heat up the inside of the problem vein, sealing it off, allowing the healthy veins around the treated vein to take over normal blood flow. This treatment should make the vein disappear, as well as improve any negative symptoms caused by the varicose vein.

Vein specialists usually require patients to wear compression stockings for at least one week after endovenous laser treatment to aid in the healing process. As a follow up, your specialist will use ultrasound to view the treated vein and ensure that it has closed. If the vein has not closed sufficiently, you may need a second treatment.

Click here to learn more about treating varicose and spider veins, or to find a vein specialist near you!


Thursday, March 29, 2012
Sclerotherapy: A Solution for Varicose and Spider Veins

Are you looking forward to spring, but dread revealing your blue-veined and blotchy legs in shorts and bathing suits? You are not alone. Roughly 50 to 60 percent of adults suffer from unsightly varicose or spider veins, or some other vein problem. Luckily, there are methods for removing or significantly diminishing the appearance of those varicose and spider veins. After a short series of treatment sessions, you may be ready to try on a whole new wardrobe!

Sclerotherapy Treatment

One of the most popular treatments for removing varicose and spider veins is sclerotherapy. This treatment involves injecting smaller, problem veins on the legs, arms and face with a sterile solution (sclerant) that irritates the lining of the blood vessel. This irritation to the blood vessel causes it to swell and break down, becoming scar tissue that will fade from view. Your specialist treats the problem veins that are not essential to circulation, and are just beneath the surface of the skin. Your blood circulation is carried out by the healthier veins located deeper in your body.

How it Works

Sclerotherapy is a non-invasive procedure that rarely requires any anesthetic, and can be performed as an outpatient service in a clinic or doctor’s office. Very fine needles are used, and one injection is typically required for every inch of vein treated. Each treatment session will take between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of veins and size of the area that is being treated. The doctor will apply a bandage to the treated area, and will likely recommend that you use support hose or socks that provide light compression for a few days following treatment.

Most people require a few sessions scheduled over several weeks to completely diminish their varicose and spider veins, though some patients see results after just one or two treatments. Sclerotherapy is most often used on small- to medium-sized veins. A range of other techniques are used to treat larger vein problems.

Side Effects and Follow Up

Some patients receiving sclerotherapy experience some mild pain, stinging, burning or itching to the treated areas. These side effects can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. Any associated bruising usually disappears after a few days.

Most vascular specialists recommend that patients receiving sclerotherapy walk regularly after treatment to encourage good circulation, and that they avoid more strenuous workouts and activities for several days.

Click here to find a vein specialist or to learn more about the many vein treatments available!



Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Why Varicose Veins Are a Real Health Concern

Most people will agree that varicose veins – most often appearing on the legs – can be unsightly, but can they cause serious health problems? Sometimes varicose veins can be harmful to your health, causing conditions that require immediate treatment. Some health conditions associated with varicose veins include deep vein thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, venous ulcers and bleeding.

Health Conditions Related to Varicose Veins:

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
The most serious health concern stemming from varicose veins is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which happens when a blood clot is trapped in a deep vein, most commonly in the leg or pelvis, but sometimes in the arm. DVT can occur without symptoms, but usually is accompanied by pain and swelling in the affected area, and may include redness, warmth and increased bulging of the superficial veins. The danger of DVT is that a blood clot can dislodge and travel to the lungs or another vital organ, leading to breathing problems, a heart attack, stroke or other medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. DVT is considered a life-threatening medical emergency, so if you or someone you know experiences swelling in the limbs, especially if the swelling is accompanied by the other symptoms outlined above, you should consult a medical doctor immediately to rule out DVT.
There are several tests available to diagnose DVT, including blood tests and ultrasound. If you have DVT, a specialist can use one of many treatments that have been developed for DVT, including blood thinners, stents and techniques for disintegrating blood clots.

Superficial thrombophlebitis, a blood clot or inflammation of the walls of a vein just below the surface of the skin, is another health condition that can occur in people who have varicose veins. The symptoms of thrombophlebitis are roughly the same as those associated with DVT, with swelling and redness affecting the vein. You should contact a medical professional immediately to rule out DVT.
If you are diagnosed with superficial thrombophlebitis, rather than DVT, it is usually a harmless condition and is not considered life threatening. However, superficial thrombophlebitis can recur and cause longstanding discomfort. Rarely, it can progress to DVT. Most often the treatment will be geared towards relieving discomfort with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and by applying a hot compress to the affected area. You should follow up with a specialist to manage any ongoing problems.

Venous Ulcers
People who suffer from varicose veins sometimes get venous ulcers, which are open sores that can occur when they get older and have other health issues, such as diabetes, arterial disease or poor circulation. If you have ulcers appearing on your legs or other areas where you have varicose veins, you should consult your doctor. Treatment to heal your ulcers can take several weeks, and there is a chance of recurrence, which should be monitored by your specialist.

Because varicose veins have higher pressure than healthy veins, are thin-walled and protrude, they are vulnerable to heavy bleeding when they are bumped or scratched. If you bump or scratch a varicose vein and it begins to bleed, you should lie down and elevate the leg. Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth until the bleeding stops, and contact your doctor for treatment.

Treatment Options
There are a range of treatments available for treating varicose veins and reducing your risk of serious health concerns. Your specialist may also recommend some lifestyle changes. A few of the many treatments for varicose veins include:
• Sclerotherapy
 Laser and Pulse-Light Therapy
• Endovenous Ablation Therapy
• Microphlebectomy
• Transilluminated Powered Phlebectomy
• Surgery: Vein Ligation and Stripping
When to Call a Doctor
Most mild symptoms related to varicose veins can be treated at home with minor lifestyle adjustments like wearing compression socks, avoiding long periods of sitting or standing, and elevating the affected limbs. However, you should call a doctor when:
• You develop a tender lump develops on or near a varicose vein
• You have swelling in the feet or ankles
• Walking or standing is painful
• Your leg suddenly becomes red, swollen and painful
• Skin over a varicose vein bleeds on its own or when bumped or scratched

Click here to find a vein specialist near you or to learn more about varicose veins.

Thursday, February 02, 2012
Men and Varicose Veins: How to Prevent and Treat

You may be surprised to learn that men suffer from varicose veins, a health concern that is more typically associated with women. This vein condition is actually fairly common in men, particularly as they get older. In fact, more than 40 percent of men in their seventies are affected by varicose veins. Varicose veins can be very painful and unsightly, and can sometimes lead to other medical conditions or complications.

Varicose Veins: How they happen

How do vein conditions occur in men? As in women, varicose veins can be traced to problems in the circulatory system. Many vein conditions result from a failure in the circulatory system’s valves, which regulate blood flow. If the valves do not function properly, too much blood can collect in the section of vein below the valve, adding pressure to the valve wall. This pressure can cause your veins to stretch out of shape, appearing enlarged and discolored, resulting in varicose veins. Men who suffer from varicose veins may have inherited the condition, which can be exacerbated by being tall or overweight, as well as long periods of sitting or standing.

In addition to swollen, discolored and enlarged veins, symptoms of varicose veins or venous insufficiency can include aching, cramping and burning, itching and tingling, pain that gets worse when standing, or night cramps and swollen ankles.

Varicose Veins and Male Infertility

One surprising medical condition that is associated with varicose veins in men is male infertility. Roughly fifteen percent of all men get varicose veins in the scrotum, regardless of age. This is a condition known as varicoceles, which can lead to depleted testosterone levels. According to experts, the testes have two important functions: the production of sperm, and the production of testosterone. If a man suffers from varicose veins in the scrotum, he may have impaired testosterone production that can result in infertility. It is estimated that nearly thirty-five percent of all cases of infertility experienced by couples during their first attempt to get pregnant are a result of varicoceles (male infertility.) Luckily, varicoceles can be treated by removal of the offending veins through a simple surgery, returning testosterone levels to normal with a few months of treatment for a large percentage of patients.

Male menopause, known as andropause, can also result from varicoceles. The symptoms or early onset of male menopause can be minimized through a simple microsurgery to remove the offending veins from the scrotum to increase the production of testosterone.

Prevention of Vein Conditions in Men

Vein conditions can be hereditary, but there are things men can do to prevent the development of symptoms or complications from varicose veins or venous insufficiency.

  • Ask your physician to check for varicoceles as part of your routine health exam. Early detection will allow for early preventative measures – or treatments – to head off any discomfort, infertility or other issues associated with the condition.

  • Wear compression socks or a vein support stocking over the affected area. These are designed to put variegated pressure along the leg, with the tightest fit occurring in the lower limb. When valves in the circulatory system are not performing their shut-off function properly, compression socks can help by squeezing the veins and preventing the blood from flowing backwards and pooling in one section of a vein.

More Tips for Relief from Varicose Veins:

Take a load off. When at rest, you should elevate your legs whenever possible, positioning your legs higher than your heart.

Flex it! When you have been sitting or standing for long periods of time, try to remember to flex your ankles up and down every 10 minutes or so. This will pump blood out of your legs by simulating the ankle-flexing motion that happens when you are walking.

Skip the Jacuzzi. Excessive heat can increase any distention of your veins, which can lead to more pooling of blood in your lower extremities. Sitting in hot tubs or hot baths will exacerbate vein conditions.

To learn more about vein conditions in men click here.



Monday, January 16, 2012
Treat and Prevent Varicose and Spider Veins This New Year

If you're looking for a "new you" in the new year, you might be thinking about some preventive health measures. After all, it's better to avoid varicose and spider veins to begin with. Unfortunately, even the best prevention strategies can fall short; some people will still develop varicose veins and spider veins due to genetics, their gender and other reasons beyond their control. So here are some tips for prevention, followed by a few easy treatment methods to get rid of minor vein problems.

Tips for Prevention

  • Lose some weight. One of the factors that may contribute to spider veins is excess pressure on the legs. Less weight equals less pressure.

  • Keep moving. Daily exercise like walking, climbing the stairs, swimming and other activities can help keep the circulation in your legs working properly.

  • Don't sit or stand in one place for too long. Easier said and done when you work in a cubicle, right? Take quick breaks at work to get up and walk around, stretching your muscles out. You can also do some simple calf stretching exercises at your desk.

  • Elevate your legs. Prop your feet up when you're at rest, so they're at a higher elevation than your heart.

Treatment Methods

Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment method that involves an injection. Spider veins and smaller varicose veins are injected with a chemical "sclerosing" agent. This causes the offending vein to harden and fade away with time, while blood flow is diverted to nearby healthy veins.

A laser or pulsed light is another easy method of spider vein removal. The laser is used to seal off the vein at each end. This causes it to collapse; the vein fades away and disappears over time. Pulsed light treatments work similarly.

Ambulatory phlebectomy treatment method uses tiny incisions along the length of the vein. The spider vein is then pulled out in sections through these little incisions. The cuts are so tiny that no stitches are required.

To find out more about vein treatment options, click here to find a vein specialist in your area!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Treating Varicose Veins: Big or Small, There's a Laser for You

You don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort of varicose veins anymore. A doctor can treat them and get rid of them with a laser, whether you have minor surface veins or problems with a deeper varicose vein. A simple laser treatment can deal with surface veins, or you can opt for an endovenous laser treatment for those real problem veins. Whether the problem is big or small, there’s a laser that will work for your varicose veins.

Simple Laser Treatment

A simple laser treatment can deal with smaller varicose veins near the surface of your skin. It may take more than one treatment, and each session is scheduled at least six weeks apart. The heat from the laser seals off the vein, which causes scar tissue to form. This causes the vein to collapse on itself and fade away over time. This treatment is best used for spider veins and minor surface veins. It’s often used as a secondary treatment after a larger vein is dealt with through another method. Simple laser treatment has been used for varicose veins for more than two decades and has been shown to be highly effective.

Endovenous Laser Treatment

This method is used for treating larger and deeper veins in the legs. It requires a topical or injected anesthetic. The vein is first catheterized, and then the laser is inserted into the vein through a tube. The doctor uses an ultrasound to guide the laser, which then seals off the vein. Endovenous laser treatment is mainly used for larger varicose veins in the legs. It’s a safer alternative to using surgical methods to take out the vein. Studies show that endovenous laser treatments are effective in about 94 percent of all cases. Some patients require a second treatment in order to fully get rid of a varicose vein.

Keep in mind that varicose veins could still form in your legs after a laser surgery. Follow your doctor’s advice about any lifestyle changes he recommends, in order to avoid this recurrence.

To find more about laser options for varicose veins, click here to find a vein specialist in your area.


Friday, November 11, 2011
Holiday Party? Get Rid of Facial Veins Fast

Have you noticed a redness in your face that does not go away? Facial spider veins, which can be caused by environmental factors as well as by having a genetic susceptibility, can give your face a ruddiness that is permanent. If you have been thinking about getting rid of your constant blush, now is the perfect time to take action so you’ll be ready to put your best face forward in time for the holidays.

Zap It with Lasers

Facial laser treatments are effective, fast, and safe. Laser and pulsed light treatments cause small facial veins to dissolve by using heat technology. Over a period of approximately four to six weeks, the vein is reabsorbed into the body and disappears. A few treatments may be needed for optimal results.

Laser treatments are done in a specialist’s office with each treatment taking about 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the area that is being treated. You can resume normal activities immediately, but you'll want to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible to facilitate healing.

To find out more about facial spider veins and your best options to treat them, click here to find a vein specialist in your area.

Thursday, September 22, 2011
Faster Treatment May Prevent Return of Varicose Veins, Study Finds
Published on Monday in the Archives of Dermatology, a recent study shows that a certain vein treatment may be helpful in preventing the return of varicose veins following treatment. This is great news for anybody experiencing the bulging, discoloration, and pain associated with varicose veins.

The study showed that a minimally-invasive treatment called endovenous laser treatment, or EVLT for short, had a lower rate of recurrence than another procedure called high ligation and stripping (HLS), which has been used for decades to treat varicose veins. The latter procedure required an overnight stay in the hospital, while the former is a quick out-patient procedure.
According to the study, patients who had undergone HLS to get rid of varicose veins saw a return of the condition in 23% of the cases. Meanwhile, patients who had undergone EVLT to get rid of varicose veins saw the condition return in 16% of the cases. The data was collected over a two-year period and involved 400 initial patients.

EVLT is becoming more and more popular, and many specialists are not even using stripping and ligation procedures anymore, with most patients opted for the less-invasive treatment path. The findings are welcome news for vein specialists and patients with varicose veins, as it shows that the treatment really is just as effective as the traditional vein stripping and ligation procedures, if not more so.

The best treatment path is prevention, though, so those at higher risk of varicose veins—those with family history, sit or stand for prolonged periods, suffer from high blood pressure, are pregnant or are obese—should elevate their legs, turn to compression stockings, or just get more exercise to help reduce their risk.

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