Are your legs ready for summer?
Take a close look at your legs and feet. Do you see any dark purple or bluish lines that run under your skin? These are veins that have the important job of carrying blood throughout your body. However, if you can see that your veins are bulging under your skin; these are varicose veins, a common condition that affects up to 35% of people in the United States, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. Women are at least twice as likely as men to develop them.
“Conditions that put pressure on your legs or abdomen area such as pregnancy, long periods of standing or excess weight can cause the blood in your veins to pool and not head back to the heart,” said Dr. Corwin Thomas, FACC, FASNC, FSCAI, Board Certified Interventional Cardiologist and Board-Certified Nuclear Cardiologist in Lafayette, Louisiana. This pooling causes pressure, which leads to bulging. “Left untreated, the condition worsens over time and may cause lower extremity edema, pain or discomfort and non-healing ulcers and sores,” said Dr. Thomas.
You may also be at risk for varicose veins if you are immobile, have a family history of varicose veins or blood clots, or are over 60 years of age. For many people, the smaller, spider-like veins are more of a cosmetic nuisance and at times do need medical treatment. “However, if your varicose veins are painful, swollen or hot or if your legs hurt and feel heavy and restless, it’s important to have them looked at by a physician who can decide on the best course of treatment,” said Dr. Thomas.
Vein therapy options include compression stockings and exercise, sclerotherapy, endovenous ablation, VenaSeal or surgery. Compression stockings can help to alleviate pressure and symptoms and prevent new varicose veins from forming in the legs. “Sclerotherapy is an injection into the varicose vein with a chemical sclerosant that causes the vein to close up, shrivel up and disappear,” said Dr. Thomas. “An endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive treatment that uses radiofrequency or heat to cauterize or burn and close abnormally enlarged veins in the legs, so the blood flow is diverted back to healthy veins.”
Since heat to the vein can cause nerve damage, skin burns, or inflammation, some patients may not be eligible for an endovenous ablation. VenaSeal, an adhesive that is inserted into the affected vein, can be another option. “VenaSeal allows you to be up and moving right after your procedure,” said Dr. Thomas. “If your varicose veins require surgery, the affected vein can be treated in a process called ambulatory phlebectomy.”
If you are starting to notice varicose veins, there are measures you can take to delay progression and worsening. “Make sure to consider regular exercises, compression stockings and elevate the legs when possible, to help relieve symptoms,” said Dr. Thomas. “It’s also important to keep your blood pressure controlled.” Most importantly, see a doctor who can determine if there are other underlying causes of your varicose veins that might need additional treatment.
For more than 15 years, Dr. Corwin Thomas, FACC, FASNC, FSCAI has provided quality care and consultation in the treatment of heart and vascular diseases, incorporating electrocardiography, nuclear cardiology, echocardiography, preventive cardiovascular services, lipid management, weight management, electrophysiology and interventional cardiovascular procedures, to name a few. For more information, visit https://www.ctcardio.com/, or 802 E Farrel Rd Lafayette, LA 70508 or call (337) 234-3163.
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