By Joseph Magnant, MD, FACS, RPVI and Jill Tanner, APRN
As we begin celebrating July 4th, Independence Day, an important word comes to mind. That word is FREEDOM. In America, we have the freedom and independence to do many things. We have all seen someone walking down the street and noticed large bulging varicose veins, but this should no longer be ignored. Luckily, we have the freedom to have these treated and no longer have to hide our legs! We have the freedom to wear shorts and skirts again! Varicose veins or prominent spider veins are two of the most obvious signs of venous disease or venous insufficiency, a true medical condition.
Venous insufficiency is a medical condition where the valves in the superficial venous system in the legs fail and, over time, lead to impaired blood return to the heart. Blood pools in the leg veins, especially when in the standing or sitting position, leading to abnormally high pressure in the veins or venous hypertension, which leads to the many signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency.
Venous insufficiency is a very common and often underdiagnosed condition affecting millions of Americans. It is estimated to be present in as much as 40% of the population and becomes more prevalent after age 50. Heredity is the major risk factor, as are a history of blood clots or DVT, obesity, standing or sedentary occupation, female gender and prior pregnancies. Vein Disease is more common in women, although men are also affected.
Most people are aware of the most common sign of venous insufficiency which is varicose veins, but many people without varicose veins also have venous insufficiency. Leg swelling as well as achy, heavy or tired legs at the end of the day are also common symptoms. In severe cases, the skin around the ankles can become discolored, thickened or even ulcerated over time.
As the pressure in the venous system builds throughout the day when patients are on their feet, symptoms progress and are worse in the evening and at bedtime. This is when the lesser known symptoms of venous insufficiency such as restless legs, leg cramps and excessive urination become problematic and can rob a patient of a good night’s sleep. All of these symptoms can be caused by venous disease and many patients’ symptoms improve with treatment for venous insufficiency. A trial of compression hose can predict which symptoms will most likely improve or respond to venous treatment. Modern vein evaluation and intervention is much different than it was years ago. Prior to 2000, procedures such as vein stripping were the only available vein treatments and very invasive, required general anesthesia, and had unacceptably high complication rates. For this reason, most patients with venous insufficiency were forced to suffer as there were no acceptable treatment options available other than compression hose and leg elevation.
At Vein Specialists in Fort Myers and Bonita Springs/Naples, we offer comprehensive, modern vein evaluation and care. We offer a gold standard scientific diagnostic ultrasound study to evaluate patients for venous insufficiency. We are then able to formulate the best treatment plan for each individual patient based on the ultrasound results. In many cases, the best treatment option for patients with venous insufficiency is something called endovenous ablation or vein closure. This can be accomplished by heat-sealing or glue-sealing the vein closed. These methods permanently seal the poorly functioning veins with either heat or medical adhesive. The result is a decrease in the venous pressure in the legs, significantly improving vein related signs and symptoms. This procedure is minimally invasive and performed under local anesthesia in both Vein Specialists office locations with minimal discomfort. Other minimally invasive treatment options such as removal of varicose veins through small incisions called microphlebectomy or injection sclerotherapy for spider veins are also offered.
Start celebrating July 4th and your freedoms!
Stop hiding behind long pants and schedule your visit with our office today! Start by visiting our website at Weknowveins.com or call 239-694-8346 for more information.
Joseph G. Magnant,
MD, FACS, RPVI
Board Certified Vascular Surgeon