Beyond Cosmetic

Unsightly varicose veins may indicate a medical problem.

More than 40 million adults in the United States have varicose veins. Many people and even some doctors consider the ropey, bulging leg veins a cosmetic concern. In reality, varicose veins are a medical matter. They serve as indicators of a vascular health problem.

“Arteries take the blood from the heart to the toes and all places in between whereas veins move blood from the legs up to the heart,” explains Nannette Wilson, APRN, registered nurse practitioner and vascular specialist at Vascular Vein Centers. “We have two venous systems, and both are connected: the deep vein system (within the muscle tissue) and the superficial vein system (outside the muscles). Normal pressure in veins is about 1/10 of arteries. There are tens of thousands of tiny one-way valves that keep low-pressure blood flow from slipping backward toward the toes.”

Without muscle movement to help push it forward, blood in the superficial vein system can back-up and increase in pressure causing leaking across these valves.

“When these vein-valves fail and allow blood to leak backward toward the toes, blood pools inside the veins and pressure in them increases,” Nannette says. “That causes the leg veins to bulge and branch out, creating the visible, and sometimes not visible, varicose veins; a condition called chronic venous insufficiency.”

Venous insufficiency means blood flow in either or both the deep and superficial venous system is not moving back to the heart as it should from extremities. Symptoms associated with venous insufficiency include a feeling of heaviness in the legs, achiness, burning, throbbing, cramping, or swelling. Other conditions can include itchiness around varicosities, vein and skin changes that include discoloration and thickening. If skin changes are not treated appropriately, painful, bleeding and potentially limb-threatening venous ulcers may develop.

“In most cases, varicose veins are the result of lifestyle and genetics,” Nannette notes. “If a parent has varicose veins, the children have an increased chance of getting them as well.”
Other risk factors include aging, being overweight, and standing or sitting still for long periods.

“Women are more likely to develop varicose veins because the hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can relax vein walls,” Nannette describes.
“Further, the volume of blood in the body increases during pregnancy, leading to enlarged leg veins.”

An evaluation at any of Vascular Vein Centers’ vein accredited facilities includes a thorough physical exam and diagnostic ultrasound imaging by a registered ultrasound technologist. This produces real-time video images of the blood flow and blood vessels. Even the various sounds of blood flow are part of the examination. If chronic venous insufficiency is detected, a customized treatment plan is created for each patient.

Among the therapies available at Vascular Vein Centers to treat the varicose veins resulting from chronic venous insufficiency are endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), VenaSeal and Varithena®.

With EVLT, a small fiber is inserted into the affected vein with ultrasound guidance. Heat energy from a laser is then applied to the vein, sealing it. VenaSeal closes large leg veins with a specially formulated medical adhesive, while Varithena uses a foam sclerosing agent to treat varicose veins. Once the veins are sealed, blood flow reroutes through nearby healthy veins.

“The varicose vein treatments at Vascular Vein Centers are minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed in our office,” Nannette assures. “With most of these treatments, patients can return to most of their regular activities right away, looking and feeling much better! Treatment is covered by most medical insurance, including Medicare and TriCare. Even so, as part of our service to best assure you, our authorization team will validate all medical insurance.

“I recommend that people make an appointment with me at Vascular Vein Centers of Viera if they are unhappy with the appearance of their varicose veins or if any of the other symptoms appear and begin to disrupt their work and other active lifestyle.”

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    • Vascular Vein Centers

      Vascular Vein Centers puts patient care and well-being first by studying and investing in emerging vein treatments and the latest technology to ensure patients receive fast and effective minimally invasive care. Patients benefit from personal... Read More

    • Nannette Wilson, APRN

      Nannette Wilson, APRN, is a registered nurse practitioner with many years of vascular experience. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Phoenix in Arizona and a Master of Science in Nursing from the Univer... Read More