An Ounce Of Prevention

Early prevention for damaged veins needed to avoid serious complications


Celicia Wallace is an instructional designer for a nonprofit organization that supports public health laboratories. In her role, Celicia champions learning and sets the stage for learning to occur. 

“Then, people that are engaged in training and development come away with positive, impactful experiences,” Celicia contends. “They learn and develop the skills, behaviors, attitudes and competencies that aid them in their careers.” 

Celicia has worked for the nonprofit for 15 years. A few years ago, she noticed that spider veins – a series of blue, purple or red, twisty, thin blood vessels — were showing on the back of her right leg, just under the skin. 

“It started out as a minor thing, but the spider veins soon got more noticeable — to the point where I started dressing to hide them,” Celicia relates. “I also had some minor swelling around my ankle, so I decided to have my legs evaluated.” 

Based on some positive reviews she read online, Celicia had that evaluation done at Vascular Vein Centers. It was performed by Charles I. Stein, MD, RPh, FACOG, who says Celicia did the right thing by acting quickly to address the issue. 

Spider veins can be an early sign of venous disease, a disorder of the leg veins that impairs blood flow upward toward the heart. To prevent serious complications, venous disease should be treated early, Dr. Stein explains. 

“We don’t wait for the telltale signs of venous disease, such as swelling, darkening or leather-like changes to the skin of the legs,” Dr. Stein informs. “Once patients begin to experience symptoms and are diagnosed, we go ahead and treat them.” 

Dr. Stein warns that symptoms of venous disease can be subtle. Examples include a tired or heavy feeling in the legs or swelling that becomes more severe as the day progresses. Those symptoms can also be a sign of problems elsewhere in the body. 

“We’ve found that once there’s significant edema in the venous system it disrupts the lymphatic system, which is another mechanism for body fluid to return to the heart,” Dr. Stein educates. 

“The disruption leads to a buildup of lymph fluid in the arms or legs, which isn’t medically treatable. Early intervention also helps prevent deep vein blood clots and leg ulcers, so there are several reasons why we want to begin vein treatment early.” 

Options include endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) and chemical ablation. 

“Ablation is the term used for closing a vein,” Dr. Stein explains. “During EVLA, a small fiber is inserted into the incompetent vein with ultrasound guidance. Heat energy from a laser is then applied to the vein, sealing it. This eliminates the cause of the symptoms.” 

Chemical ablation utilizes a variety of solutions to close problematic veins. One example is Varithena®, a procedure that seals problem veins using an FDA-approved microfoam that is administered under ultrasound guidance. 

An ultrasound examination of Celicia’s legs confirmed she had venous disease and identified multiple compromised veins. 

“I learned that spider veins are a superficial sign of what’s going on underneath,” Celicia affirms. “Dr. Stein performed a series of laser treatments after which they did another scan. It showed that everything was successful. Most importantly, the underlying medical issues were addressed and resolved. I feel really good about that.”  

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo 

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