Why Do I Have All These Spider Veins?

If you’re like many patients, spider veins took you by surprise.  These red weblike veins tend to form in groups near the surface of the skin, most often in the legs.  The medical name for these collections of blood vessels is telangiectasias.  Individuals who visit a vein treatment center with cosmetic concerns about these tiny vessels wonder what caused them, how to eliminate them, and how to help prevent more.

Spider Vein Facts

Unlike varicose veins, these vessels usually create no health problems.  However, like the cause of varicose veins, theirs is weak vein valves that allow blood that should be circulating toward the heart to fall backward.  Vein doctors explain that pressure from pooled blood stretches a vessel, causing it to expand and eventually appear as a spider or a varicose vein.

The Cleveland Clinic notes that these abnormal veins affect between 30 and 50 percent of U.S. adults.  The most common reasons they develop include:

  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Standing for extended periods
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Pregnancy-related hormonal changes
  • Birth control pill use
  • Hormone replacement therapy after menopause
  • Sitting with crossed legs for long periods
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • A history of one or more blood clots
  • Vein injury
  • Medical conditions that raise abdominal pressure, such as liver disease
  • Prior venous surgery
  • Ultraviolet ray exposure
  • Injury or trauma to the skin
  • Use of topical steroids

Treatment Options from Vein Doctors

The specialists who treat a spider vein problem on an outpatient basis at a vein clinic are usually vascular surgeons.  Your path to resolution begins with an initial consultation, during which the vein doctor performs a physical exam, explores your medical history, and discusses expectations.

Vascular surgeons can offer two primary medical treatment options, sclerotherapy and the use of laser and light energy, to eliminate these unwanted blood vessels.  Both techniques use minimally invasive, same-day procedures with little discomfort.  They allow a patient to quickly resume his or her daily schedule.  However, neither treatment can prevent the formation of new abnormal veins.  For this reason, some patients return periodically to a vein clinic for additional treatment sessions.

Self-help Tips

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery explains that spider vein patients can take these steps to lower their risk of new vessels:

  • Stay active.  Avoid standing or sitting for extended times.  Be sure to move at least every half an hour to boost blood flow.  Also periodically flex your calf muscles when sitting for extended periods.
  • Remain at your healthy weight.  This helps get rid of excess leg pressure.
  • Try compression stockings.  Your vein doctor can give you a prescription.
  • Avoid excessive heat.  This means steering clear of hot tubs and extended hot baths.  Both cause veins to swell and blood to pool.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.  Tight clothing around your legs, groin area, and waist can reduce circulation efficiency.

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Venous Disease

Patients who suffer from venous disease sometimes have primarily cosmetic concerns.  However, vein doctors often hear that complications such as as varicose veins and venous ulcers cause these individuals significant discomfort.  Understanding the risk factors and symptoms of this condition can help patients evaluate their options.

A Vein Doctor Describes This Condition

Vein specialists known as vascular surgeons also call this condition venous reflux disease and, in some patients, chronic venous insufficiency.  According to the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, almost 25 million Americans experience complications from this disorder.  More than 40 percent of U.S. women could develop varicose vein problems by the time the reach their fifties.

Knowing a bit about the role of veins is important to understanding disease risk factors and symptoms.  While arteries transport blood with oxygen in it from the heart to other parts of the body, the job of veins is returning blood that needs oxygen to the heart.

Veins are essentially hollow tubes that contain valves.  The Cleveland Clinic notes that the purpose of these valves is to keep blood flowing toward the heart.  If a valve fails to function or is damaged as the result of venous reflux disease, it is unlikely to close properly.  The result is leaking blood that pools behind it and that exerts pressure on the vein, particularly in a leg.  This causes the vein to dilate, resulting in possible complications such as spider veins, varicose veins, phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, and ulcers.

The University of California San Francisco Department of Surgery cites these common risk factors:

  • Varicose veins in the family
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Being female and more than 50

Vascular surgeons note these typical symptoms:

  • Lower-leg swelling that persists
  • Pain or a sensation of aching, cramping, or heaviness in a leg
  • Blue-tone skin discoloration in the ankle area
  • Appearance of venous ulcers that are sometimes also infected

Diagnosis and Treatment at a Vein Treatment Center

To make a diagnosis of venous reflux disease, vein doctors perform a physical examination and review the medical history of patients at a vein clinic.  One helpful diagnostic tool is duplex ultrasound to determine how blood is flowing and evaluate the structure of veins in the leg.  Magnetic resonance venography combines computer technology, a magnet, contrast dye, and radio frequencies to create images of the body and allow a vein doctor to visualize targeted vessels.

Patients have a number of outpatient therapies available when they seek treatment at a vein clinic, depending on the complications they experience.  Conservative measures include wearing compression stockings and making lifestyle changes such as losing weight.  Sclerotherapy and VeinGogh Ohmic Thermolysis procedures treat spider veins.  The Venefit procedure and ambulatory phlebectomy effectively eliminate varicose vessels.

FAQs About Venefit Closure

Varicose veins come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Smaller veins, like spider veins, can be treated with procedures such as sclerotherapy. Deeper and larger veins need a more advanced form of treatment. That’s where Venefit Closure comes in. During Venefit, a vein doctor will use ultrasound to find the veins and radiofrequency energy to eliminate them. If you’re considering Venefit, you might have a number of questions about the treatment. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about it.

Common Questions About Venefit Closure

1. How is Venefit Different from Other Treatments?

Venefit, also known as VNUS Closure, is different from other procedures a vein treatment center might offer in a number of ways. First, it uses a different method to destroy the veins. Surgical procedures such as ambulatory phlebectomy physically remove the veins from the body. Procedures such as sclerotherapy use chemicals to destroy unwanted spider or smaller varicose veins. Venefit uses radiofrequency energy to cause the treated veins to collapse and fade away.

2. How Do You Prepare for Venefit?

Very little advanced preparation is needed for Venefit. Vascular surgeons typically recommend avoiding taking any diuretics before your treatment, but it is fine to continue to take most other types of medication. You also don’t need to change your diet before the procedure.

Since you will likely be a bit drowsy from the sedation and anesthesia after the treatment, one thing you will want to do in advance is arrange to have a friend or family member give you a ride home from the vein clinic.

3. What Happens to the Treated Veins?

Venefit eliminates problem varicose veins by causing them to collapse. Blood is no longer able to flow through the treated vein and instead is redirected to other veins in the body. Over time, the treated veins turn into fibrous tissue and are eventually reabsorbed by your body.

4. How Long Does Recovery Take?

One of the highlights of Venefit is that it has a very brief recovery period, especially when compared to traditional vein stripping treatments or laser treatments. For the most part, you can expect to go back to work or other daily activities the day after your treatment. You might have to avoid strenuous workouts and other vigorous activities for a few weeks after treatment, though.

5. How Can You Improve Results After Treatment?

You want to get the best results possible from your treatment. Your vein doctor will give you pointers on how to do that.  For example, many vein doctors recommend taking regular walks after Venefit and wearing compression stockings to help the treated area heal more quickly.

If you have more questions about Venefit, Dr. Ken Janoff and the team at Bridgeport Vein Center are available to answer them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Why a Vein Doctor Uses Duplex Ultrasound

Some patients find varicose veins an annoyance because of their bulging, ropelike appearance.  For others, they are a major source of discomfort that could cause complications if untreated.  Duplex ultrasound is one essential tool a vein doctor uses in locating abnormal vessels and formulating a treatment plan.

How Duplex Ultrasound Works

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, vein doctors utilize this non-invasive procedure to check how blood flows in veins and also to hunt for blood clots.  The specialists who typically use this technology at a vein clinic are vascular surgeons.

MedlinePlus indicates that medical providers also refer to duplex ultrasound as vascular ultrasound and peripheral vascular ultrasound.  It combines two ultrasound technologies:

  • Traditional creates pictures as sound waves bounce off vessels.
  • Doppler captures a record as waves reflect off objects in motion such as blood.  It measures speed and other blood flow characteristics.

Vein doctors use duplex ultrasound to find problem blood vessels, make a specific diagnosis, and recommend a customized treatment plan for a varicose vein patient.  The procedure is particularly useful when determining if the individual has any complications, particularly blockages.  In addition to examining vein problems in the legs, it is helpful for investigating how blood flows through the arms, neck, kidneys, and abdomen.

What to Expect at a Vein Treatment Center

Cedars-Sinai® reports that a duplex ultrasound procedure for varicose veins requires no particular preparation.  However, many patients bring something to read or music with them to enjoy while waiting.

Vascular surgeons utilize this technology on an outpatient basis.  According to MedlinePlus, the staff issues a gown at the beginning of the appointment.  The exam occurs while the patient is lying down on a table.

As soon as the individual is in the proper position, an ultrasound technician spreads a medical gel over the area to be tested.  This gels helps sound waves permeate body tissues.

As the test progresses, a technician or a physician might request the patient to move into a variety of positions.  Until such a request occurs, the patient needs to stay still on the table.

Images form as a wand called a transducer moves over the area being examined.  As the wand sends out sound waves, patients often describe a sound that resembles swishing.  Blood traveling through veins generates this sound.

Sound waves reflect from the patient’s body to a computer, where software turns them into images.  Depending on the circumstances of the case, a vein specialist might opt to also perform an ankle-brachial test, during which the staff places blood pressure cuffs on the patient’s arms and legs.

Most patients report no discomfort during a duplex ultrasound session.  Some note a bit of pressure as the transducer moves across targeted areas.  Doctors associate no risk with this type of exam.

Is a Non-surgical Varicose Vein Treatment Option Right for You?

Varicose veins are so common that almost everyone knows someone treated for them.  Technology has come a long way since the primary varicose vein treatment was vein stripping.  While many patients ultimately choose a surgical procedure to get rid of these troublesome blood vessels, others are able to significantly reduce symptoms without surgery.

Varicose Vein Treatment Basics

A majority of varicose veins occur in the legs.  A vein’s job is to return blood from the extremities to the heart.  When a valve within a vein fails to close properly due to age or other problem, blood traveling upward leaks back into the vessel and pools.  As the accumulation grows, vein walls stretch.  The result is often a varicose vein.

The Office on Women’s Health states that somewhere between 50 and 55 percent of U.S. women and 40 to 45 percent of their male counterparts have vein problems.  Most who seek treatment visit a vein doctor at an outpatient vein clinic.  Specialists who treat varicose veins are typically vascular surgeons.

Factors most commonly linked to the development of these bulging red or blue vessels include aging, family history, medical disorders, changes in hormone levels, and carrying excess weight.

Conservative Options Vein Doctors Recommend

None of the varicose vein treatments available will prevent new vessels from forming.  However, non-surgical options that reduce discomfort can also help slow the development of new veins.

When a patient visits a vein treatment center for a consultation, the vein doctor will take a medical history as well as perform a physical exam.  Tests such as an ultrasound exam might be required.  The physician then recommends a treatment plan customized to meet individual needs.

Non-surgical options include:

  • Compression stockings:  These stockings, when properly fitted, are the most conservative treatment for varicose veins, according to the Cleveland Clinic.  Vein doctors recommend either an over-the-counter or a prescription purchase.  The most common places to buy them are pharmacies and medical supply establishments.  Compression stockings are available as pantyhose, over-the-knee products, or below-the-knee hose and in varying compressions.
  • Lifestyle changes:  The Mayo Clinic cites a number of lifestyle and self-care options for reducing discomfort.  Among them are getting more exercise, losing excess weight, avoiding high-heeled shoes and tight clothing, elevating the legs whenever possible, reducing extended periods of standing or sitting, and steering clear of crossing the legs.
  • Sclerotherapy:  Vascular surgeons perform this same-day procedure to destroy targeted spider and certain small varicose veins fairly close to the skin’s surface.  Sometimes they use ultrasound to guide them in finding veins.  The physician uses a very fine needle to inject a special chemical substance known as a sclerosing agent into each targeted vein.  This substance irritates the walls of the vein, causing them to stick together and the vessel to close and ultimately disappear.

What Are the Risk Factors for Spider Veins?

For a majority of patients, spider veins represent a cosmetic rather than a medical problem.  Their typically red or blue color is particularly noticeable in fair-skinned individuals.  When these blood vessels present a big enough cosmetic issue, patients can experience a dip in self-confidence.  Knowing the risk factors for developing a spider vein problem is helpful in taking steps to prevent these troublesome vessels and to reduce stress during treatment.

Spider Veins Overview

Wake Forest® Baptist Health notes that the medical name for a spider vein is a telangiectasia.  This kind of vessel is smaller than a typical varicose vein but can enlarge as time passes.  These veins tend to form in clusters and get their name from the appearance of a spider web.

Some physicians believe a spider vein is a kind of varicose vein that forms on the legs, face, ankles, or thighs.  Others consider it a distinct type.  Vein doctors see some patients who also have medical symptoms such as itching or pain.

Up to half of U.S. adults have these veins, according to the Cleveland Clinic.  They form after blood pools inside a vein because of a defective valve.  They occur more often in women than in men.

Risk Factors

These are the most common risk factors experienced by patients treated at a vein clinic:

  • Prior vascular problems in the family
  • Advancing age
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Carrying too much weight
  • Hormonal changes linked to pregnancy
  • Birth control pill usage
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Tight clothes
  • Sitting with crossed legs for prolonged periods
  • Earlier blood clots
  • Injury to a vein
  • Medical conditions such as heart failure that raise abdominal pressure

Other risk factors include:

  • Using topical steroids
  • Exposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Previous vein surgery
  • Injury or trauma to the skin

Individuals who face these risk factors can make lifestyle changes to help prevent the development of a spider vein problem.  Examples include shedding excess weight and reducing the time spent of their feet.

Options at a Vein Treatment Center

The specialists who treat vein problems are typically vascular surgeons.  They typically rely on two kinds of treatment to eliminate a spider vein issue:

  • Sclerotherapy is often called the gold standard of spider vein treatment.  It is also useful for some small varicose veins.  Using a very fine needle, a vein doctor injects a special solution called a sclerosant into each problem vessel.  The sclerosant irritates the vein’s walls, causing them to stick to each other.  The body eventually absorbs the vein.
  • The VeinGogh Ohmic Thermolysis System is ideal for vessels too small for vascular surgeons to treat with sclerotherapy.  Vein doctors sometimes use it in conjunction with sclerotherapy.  It is appropriate for any skin type.  The technology relies on the conversion of microbursts of electrical energy to heat.

 

 

Is Ambulatory Phlebectomy A Good Choice For You?

For millennia, people have suffered from varicose veins; vein doctors and vascular surgeons have tried various strategies to treat them. In the modern world, you have a number of options. You may receive treatment in a vein clinic, vein treatment center or doctor’s office. Treatment options today include minimally invasive procedures rather than major surgery, as was common in years gone by. Here’s some information about one of those options – ambulatory phlebectomy – from the Bridgeport Vein Center in Portland, Oregon.

How Varicose Veins Develop

Blood in the arteries is circulated through the force of pressure from the heartbeats, but the veins need a little help. Muscle contractions in the legs push blood up to the heart and the veins have tiny flaps of tissue called valves that help prevent the blood from running backward. If these valves stop working properly – which often occurs as you get older – the blood will pool in the leg veins. Varicose veins are often distended and twisted – very visible in shorts, short skirts or swimwear.

Choosing Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Ambulatory phlebectomy was actually not developed by a vein doctor, but by a Swiss dermatologist named Robert Muller. Minimally invasive, the procedure typically takes about an hour – plus some time before and after for preparation and recovery. It is used for the smaller surface varicose veins which are most visible. Ambulatory phlebectomy is an option for nearly all patients, except those who cannot walk on their own or cannot wear compression stockings.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy: Preparation and Procedure

Preparation for this procedure is simple – schedule the procedure, come to the office and don’t shave your legs the day of the procedure. After the injection of local anesthetic, the doctor inserts a tiny hook through a very small incision (cut) in the skin. The hook is used to pull up the vein, which is then grasped with a special tool and gently pulled out of the leg. After dressings and compression stockings are in place – no stitches needed in most cases – the patient is ready to go home.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy: Aftercare

As soon as the compression stockings are in place, you can get up and walk around. You’ll be able to go home almost immediately, and in most cases, you can resume your normal activities within a day or so. It’s a good idea to avoid strenuous exercise for about a week after the procedure, although vein doctors have different routines, so follow your doctor’s instructions. Temporary bruising or swelling may be present and sometimes the puncture sites will ooze a little. Take recommended pain medications if needed and wear the compression stockings as instructed – usually for two to three weeks.

If you are considering varicose vein treatment, please contact the Bridgeport Vein Center. Dr. Kenneth A. Janoff, MD, FACS, and the team can answer your questions to help you decide on the best treatment strategies. We serve the Portland and Lake Oswego areas of Oregon.

Spider Vein Treatment In a Nutshell

In the big picture, spider veins are one of the more minor of the various vein diseases. Still, they can be unattractive and may cause symptoms. Spider vein treatment is quick and effective, with minimal risks, and is typically performed in the office of a vein doctor or in a vein treatment center. Here’s some information about spider vein treatment from the experts at the Bridgeport Vein Center, a well-known vein clinic in the Portland, Oregon area.

How Spider Veins Develop

Although arteries are smooth inside, veins perform their role of returning blood to the heart with the help of tiny tissue flaps called valves. Muscle contractions in the legs also help pump blood back up to the heart. In a healthy vein, the valves close at each short pause between heartbeats, which prevents the blood from flowing backwards. Over time, however, these valves can fail (the medical term is become incompetent) and blood pools in the vein.

The Appearance of Spider Veins

Although varicose veins are most common in the legs, spider veins can develop in other areas – most notably the face. While they can sometimes be covered with makeup, spider veins are typically very visible. Behind the knee, they may look like a small cluster of blackish or dark purple varicose veins. On the face, they are more likely to be reddish “sunbursts” that look more like a tiny spider web – hence the name.

Spider Vein Treatment: Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is probably the most common treatment vein doctors use for spider veins. Using a tiny needle, the doctor injects a special solution into the spider vein. The solution irritates the wall of the vein, causing it to swell and then collapse. As it heals, the vein scars closed, and is eventually absorbed into the surrounding tissue. It takes about 10 to 30 minutes for a sclerotherapy treatment, which is performed in the doctor’s office. Occasionally mild bruising or swelling may occur; full healing takes several weeks.

Spider Vein Treatment: VeinGogh

For very fine spider veins that may be difficult to treat with sclerotherapy, a VeinGogh treatment may be more effective. VeinGogh uses heat to make the blood in the vein clot and collapse the vein wall. The collapsed vein is then absorbed and disappears. VeinGogh uses a hair-thin insulated probe to deliver a micro-burst of high energy heat directly to the vein. One of the great advantages of VeinGogh as compared to other therapies like lasers is that VeinGogh is effective no matter what your skin color and type. The skin itself is not affected by VeinGogh, only the spider vein.

If you’re troubled by spider veins, the vascular surgeons at Bridgeport Vein Center can help you. Please contact us to schedule an appointment. We can also answer any questions you may have about the procedure or other issues such as scheduling, preparation or payment.

The Benefits of the Venefit Procedure

 

Vein doctors and vascular surgeons are always looking for new and better ways to treat serious cases of varicose veins. And people who suffer from varicose veins are always eager to get rid of them with a minimum of discomfort and recovery time. The Venefit procedure is an exciting alternative to traditional vein stripping that both physicians and patents have come to appreciate.

 

What is the Venefit Procedure?

 

Proven effective both in clinical trials and in medical practice, the Venefit procedure is a minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins that uses endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA) technology. Performed by a specialized vein doctor at a licensed vein clinic or vein treatment center, Venefit collapses and closes enlarged veins using a specially-designed RFA catheter. When the catheter is removed, the vein naturally seals shut, automatically forcing blood flow to healthy veins.

 

How the Venefit Procedure Can Help You

 

Although many people think that varicose veins are a purely cosmetic issue, the condition can often become quite physically debilitating. Common symptoms of advanced varicose veins include…

 

  • Painful and/or aching limbs
  • Dryness and itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Leg fatigue and heaviness
  • Cramping
  • Restless leg syndrome

 

The Venefit procedure was not designed to address small spider veins or other purely cosmetic issues. For those who suffer from serious varicose vein symptoms, however, it offers a number of distinct advantages.

 

The Venefit Advantage

 

Unlike traditional vein stripping surgery or laser ablation, the Venefit catheter applies even and constant heat to specific targeted areas, using temperatures that do not exceed 120 degrees Celsius. As a result, the procedure offers benefits such as…

 

  • Less pain and swelling – Because it is so minimally invasive, Venefit reduces overall damage to healthy tissue. It also produces fewer complications and less scarring.
  • Faster recovery times – The Venefit procedure is typically completed using local anesthesia in a clinic or in a same-day hospital setting. In a 2009 study, Venefit patients reported significant improvements in quality of life that were up to four times faster than traditional techniques.
  • Long-lasting results – In addition to providing rapid patient relief and recovery times, Venefit offers long-lasting effects. An international multicenter research initiative has shown the Venefit procedure to be 93 percent effective three years after treatment.

 

 

The Venefit procedure is only performed as a medical necessity by highly trained physician specialists. If you feel as though you might be a likely candidate for the procedure or would simply like to know more about it, contact one of the skilled and knowledgeable professionals at the Bridgeport Vein Center.

How to Get Ready for Ambulatory Phlebectomy

If you have varicose veins, you have a number of options for treating them. For example, ambulatory phlebectomy is a minimally invasive, effective treatment. Although it doesn’t require general anesthesia and typically has a limited recovery time, getting ready for it in advance is still a good idea. Here are a few things worth doing before you head to the vein clinic for varicose vein treatment.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy Preparation

Stock Up

It’s common for vein doctors to recommend wearing compression stockings after ambulatory phlebectomy. Compression stockings help improve your results from the procedure. Since it’s important that the stockings you get fit you and do a good job of compressing your legs, it’s a good idea to purchase them before your procedure. Buying your stockings in advance also means you’ll have the ready to go on the day of your treatment.

Confirm Medications

Your vein doctor might ask you to take certain medications before your phlebectomy and he might ask you to stop taking certain medicines several days before the treatment. For example, it’s usually recommended that you avoid taking vitamin E supplements or aspirin a few days before the treatment, as both can thin your blood and increase your risk for bruising, bleeding and other complications.

If you are taking any other types of medicine, it’s a good idea to check in with the vascular surgeon to make sure they are safe to continue taking. Your doctor might also recommend that you take certain medications, such as certain pain relievers or a muscle relaxer, to make the procedure more comfortable and to reduce any pain afterwards.

Plan Your Outfit

It might sound frivolous, but you want to think carefully about what you wear on the day of your treat. Loose fitting clothing is usually ideal. You’ll be the most comfortable in it. It’s also a good idea to wear shorts or a skirt that exposes your legs.

Have a Good Breakfast or Lunch

One of the great things about ambulatory phlebectomy is that it doesn’t require general anesthesia. That means you don’t have to fast the morning of or the night before.

In fact, depending on when your procedure is scheduled, it’s often a good idea to make sure you enjoy a decent breakfast or lunch beforehand. You don’t want to become hungry in the middle of the treatment and you don’t want to be frantically trying to get a meal right afterwards.

Be Ready to Rest Afterwards

Although the treatment is minimally invasive, it’s a good idea to leave some room in your schedule to rest up after it. Don’t schedule workouts or major activities during the first few days or week after your treatment, for example.

If you are ready to learn more about your varicose vein treatment options and what to do to prepare, contact Bridgeport Vein Center for more information today.

 

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