5 Things to Think About Before Spider Vein Treatment

You might think of spider veins as varicose veins’ younger or smaller sibling. They are usually near the surface of the skin and much smaller in size compared to varicose veins. Although the veins might be smaller and less likely to cause discomfort, they can still make you feel self-conscious. Fortunately, there are a few spider vein treatment options available to help reduce the appearance of the veins and improve your self-confidence. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about treatment.

Understanding Spider Vein Treatment

Do You Need Treatment?

Not everyone needs treatment at a vein clinic for their spider veins. In many cases, the veins are asymptomatic and don’t cause pain or discomfort. The veins might also be in an out of the way area and not easy to see.

But, you might consider seeking out the services of a vein doctor and vein treatment center if the veins itch or burn or if they bother you in any way. That includes if you simply don’t like the way they look. For many people, spider veins are a cosmetic issue. If you’re unhappy about their appearance, the good news is that you can do something about it.

What Do You Expect from Treatment?

Having realistic expectations about what your treatment can and can’t do is crucial for the overall success of it. Vein doctors usually sit down with patients before the treatment to give them a better idea of what the procedures can and can’t do. It’s also a good idea to ask vascular surgeons how many treatments you might need to get the results you want and how much time you’ll need after each for recovery.

Do You Understand Your Treatment Options?

Sclerotherapy, which uses a chemical solution to destroy the veins, is the standard treatment for spider veins. But there are other options available. For example, if you have very fine spider veins, your vein doctor might recommend VeinGogh, which uses heat to destroy the veins. In some cases, a combination of both treatments might be the best option for you. 

What Happens After Treatment?

Both types of spider vein treatment are usually very  minimally invasive and won’t interfere with your day-to-day life too much. That said, it’s still important to know what to expect after each treatment and what you can do to help your recovery along. For example, your doctor might recommend wearing support hose for several weeks to help the healing process. He might also recommend avoiding some activities for a few weeks.

What Else Can You Do to Minimize Spider Veins?

A few lifestyle changes, either before or after treatment, can help keep spider veins from returning or minimize the appearance of existing ones. Your vein doctor might recommend getting more exercise, losing weight or limiting sun exposure to help keep your spider veins in check.

 

What Treatments Are Available at a Vein Clinic?

If it’s been years since you’ve worn shorts or a skirt thanks to your varicose or spider veins, there’s good news. A vein treatment center can offer a variety of treatment options for venous disease and varicose veins. Which treatment is best for you depends on the size of your veins and how deep they are. Your vein doctor can help you choose the best procedure, or in some cases, procedures, to treat your vein problems.

Treatment Options at a Vein Clinic

Sclerotherapy

If you have spider veins, vascular surgeons are most likely to recommend sclerotherapy to treat them. Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins and typically look like blue and red, delicate webs nears the surface of your skin. Sclerotherapy involves injecting the veins with a special solution that causes them to collapse and fade away. In some cases, vein doctors also recommend sclerotherapy as a treatment for varicose veins. While it’s not as as effective on larger veins, it can help reduce smaller varicose veins.

VeinGogh

Your vein doctor might recommend treating very fine spider veins with a procedure known as VeinGogh. The treatment uses a very fine needle and heat to collapse the blood vessel and cause it to fade from view over a period of weeks. Although the treatment can be performed on its own, it’s often combined with sclerotherapy to give you the best possible results. 

Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Ambulatory phlebectomy is a type of outpatient treatment that removes varicose veins that are near the surface of the skin. You’re given anesthesia during the treatment, so you won’t feel anything. The procedure involves making small incisions in the skin near the veins, then removing the veins through the incisions. Recovery is usually pretty short and many people are back to their regular lives the next day or within a few days.

Afterwards, it’s usually recommended that you wear compression stockings for a few weeks to help reduce swelling and to help improve results.  Since the incisions made during the procedure are so small, scarring is usually not noticeable.

Venefit

Sometimes called VNUS Closure, the Venefit procedure uses radiofrequency energy to destroy and eliminate problem veins. During the treatment, a vein doctor finds the vein with ultrasound imaging, then inserts a small catheter into it, which directs the radiofrequency energy to the vein’s wall. Venefit is used as a treatment for larger and deeper varicose veins and for other forms of venous disease. 

Recovery after Venefit is usually quick. Many patients notice less bruising and swelling from the treatment than from more invasive, traditional techniques. Since Venefit is performed on an outpatient basis, you are able to return home right away.

Sometimes, a series of treatments or a combination of treatments are the best way to fully eliminate your varicose or spider veins. To discuss all your options in full, schedule a consultation at Bridgeport Vein Center today.

5 Ways to Improve Results After Varicose Vein Treatment

Advanced in varicose vein treatment mean that today’s procedures are both less invasive and more effective than those of the past. But since venous disease tends to be a progressive issue, there’s no guarantee that the treatment you get at a vein clinic will keep your varicose veins away for good. Some people do develop additional varicose or spider veins down the road. As the Office on Women’s Health notes, there’s no way to fully cure weak valves in the blood vessels. Staying alert and making certain changes to your habits can help you improve the results from treatment and minimize the chance that varicose veins will recur.

How to Get the Most from Varicose Vein Treatment

1. Wear Compression Stockings 

Whether you’ve had treatment or not, one thing vein doctors often recommend to keep varicose veins under control and to prevent them from getting worse is wearing compression stockings. At the very least, you’ll want to wear compression stockings for the first few weeks after your vein treatment. The stockings put a gentle pressure on the legs, which helps the veins pump blood back up to the heart without leaking.

2. Lose Weight if Recommended

Carrying extra weight puts extra pressure on the veins, making it more of a challenge for them to pump blood. If you are overweight or obese, vascular surgeons often recommend losing weight before treatment. In some cases, weight loss can help minimize or slow down the progression of varicose veins. After treatment of your veins, maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the chance of new varicose veins developing.

3. Move More

The stronger your legs are and the more developed the muscle, the less likely you are to have significant vein problems. Taking regular walks or avoiding standing or sitting in one place for extended periods can help keep new varicose veins from developing after your treatment. Your vein doctor might recommend taking a walk daily as part of the recovery plan after treatment.

4. Limit Sun Exposure

Sun exposure can make certain vein problems worse. If you had spider veins on the face or legs, limiting the amount of time you spend in the sun or making sure to always wear sunscreen can help keep new veins from developing.

5. See Your Vein Doctor Regularly

Regular appointments at a vein treatment center allow you and your doctor to keep a close eye on how your veins are doing. Your doctor might use ultrasound imaging to check your veins and make sure that new varicose veins aren’t forming beneath the surface of the skin. Regular visits to a vein clinic can also mean that you’re able to treat new varicose veins as they arise, before they have a chance to cause you discomfort or embarassment.

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.

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