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Venous Insufficiency and Treatment Options: An Overview
10th Mar

2014

Venous Insufficiency and Treatment Options: An Overview
Veins

Veins are blood vessels that return blood from all the organs in the body toward the heart. They carry blood low in oxygen content and the byproducts of organs. Because the arteries absorb most of the force of the heart’s contractions, veins are subjected to low blood pressures.   

Veins work against gravity, but operate with valves and the force of muscle contractions to help push blood back to the heart. To facilitate the movement of blood, veins contain many one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing away from the heart. Issues with these valves can lead to venous insufficiencies such as varicose or spider veins.

Venous Insufficiency

Because veins work against gravity, unlike their arterial counterparts, veins also incorporate valves that help maintain the flow of deoxygenated blood back to the heart. If the valves are not working properly, blood can back in the vein causing swelling. Weaknesses in the vein walls can also cause pooling. This can lead to venous insufficiency conditions known as varicose veins or spider veins.

Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin. Although deoxygenated blood is blue, the varicose veins may appear red, blue, or flesh colored. They most commonly appear in legs. Spider veins, or Telangiectasia, are like varicose veins but smaller and closer to the skin’s surface. Varicose veins primarily occur in legs, but spider veins may appear elsewhere, including the face from too much sun exposure.

Factors include:

  • Increasing age – Varicose veins affect 50% of people 50+
  • Being female – Hormonal changes from puberty, pregnancy and menopause can increase the chance to develop symptoms
  • Sedentary lifestyle and Obesity
  • Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
  • Family and Medical history

Signs and Symptoms include:

  • Aching pain, which increases from prolonged standing or sitting
  • Cramping and swelling
  • Skin discoloration, or darkening
  • Dry or scaly skin that cracks easily
  • Inflammation

Prevention and Relief steps:

  • Wear compression stockings.

These may include simple support pantyhose that provide minimal pressure to OTC and prescription level compression hose, available from drugstores or medical supply. The pressure decreases swelling and allows for improved blood flow up the legs.

  • Adjust position and do not sit or stand for prolonged periods of time.

Do not cross legs in one position for too long, as it can decrease blood flow, and exacerbate symptoms. When standing, shifting your weight from leg to leg also helps blood flow.

  • Raise leg positions when resting.

Keeping your legs high will decrease the workload of valves in veins and it also helps ease the blood flow against gravity. One recommendation is to do this three to four times a day for 15 minutes at a time.

  • Balance weight and exercise.

Exercise in general helps the cardiovascular system, running and swimming are recommended.

**If you experience any of these symptoms or have the above factors, you should visit USA Vein Clinics for a diagnosis along with following prevention and relief steps. You may or may not need laser treatment but you cannot diagnose the problem without the proper devices and a physical examination. With your diagnosis, you may be able to resolve minor symptoms with the above steps alone.

Treatments of Vein Disease

Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)

EVLT is a minimally invasive treatment for venous insufficiency. First, an ultrasound study evaluates the venous system. This helps map the presence of defective veins and determines if EVLT is required. First the patient receives local anesthetic for the treatment area. EVLT works by irritating the inside of the unhealthy vein(s) using a laser heat. This closes the vein so that blood cannot flow through anymore. Once unhealthy veins are sealed, the surrounding healthy veins resume functions normally. The procedure is done through a small puncture, and then a thin fiber-optic probe is inserted through a needle into the vein. The laser energy seals the veins as the probe is pulled and the procedure is complete. There is little to no scarring or bruising, and daily activities can be resumed immediately.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy involves an injection of a sterile salt solution into the defective vein(s). Unlike EVLT which uses heat to immediately collapse and seal defective veins, Sclerotherapy swells the vein(s) briefly before collapsing, followed by reabsorption in the surrounding tissue. The swelling occurs because of the contents of the solution which irritates the inner lining of the vein before sealing. The procedure was developed in the 1930’s and is still used today.

There may be side effects such as itching, raised red areas, or slight bruising, all of which should only last one to two days, and bruising may last a few weeks.  You will be able to resume daily activities immediately. Post treatment you will wear compression stockings for a few days to ensure that the vein stays closed, and should avoid aerobic activity, hot baths, and excessive exposure to the sun.

Clarivein, the “Beyond Laser” method. (Non Thermal Vein Ablation)

Clarivein is the latest option in treating venous insufficiencies. Pioneered in the USA, this method sees effective results with many positive benefits. Unlike ELVT, the method is non thermal (without heat), so there is no possibility for nerve damage. Aside from a very small prick in the skin to insert a rotating catheter, there is no pain and very minimal patient discomfort. As the rotating catheter is pulled, the sclerosant drug is sprayed effectively and the defective vein will collapse from the solution. This is the most high end treatment available and already has high patient comfort and acceptance.

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Comments

Lisa Huard

2014-03-15 03:50:54 Reply

Great article! I was diagnosed in my 30’s and the only thing I was told was CP!

Barbara Glatt

2014-03-16 03:23:25 Reply

Everything is explained very well. A very informative read. I will share this great information to all my family and friends. Thanks for sharing this USA Vein Clinics. Best Regards!

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