Spider veins and varicose veins are a fairly common condition that affects approximately half of American women. Although mainly ignored and considered just a dermatological condition, many women (and men too) ignore their spider veins and varicose veins and dread the warm weather because of not wanting to show off their legs. Spider and varicose veins shouldn’t be ignored as they could be an early indication of possible venous disease and luckily there is a way to prevent, cure and improve the appearance of spider and varicose veins.
Spider and varicose veins are caused by weak or damaged valves in the vein. All veins carry oxygen depleted blood back to the heart and lungs to be replenished with oxygen. Gravity works against this process and gradually over time weakening of the flaps or valves in the veins occurs and prevents the blood from being lifted back to the heart. When this happens the backed up blood pools in the veins causing them to increase in size and giving them a blueish color causing what you see under your skin. The difference between the two is the size (varicose veins are bigger and bulgy whereas spider veins are smaller).Typically, varicose veins are symptomatic causing pain, edema, swelling and muscle fatigue. Spider veins on the other hand are usually asymptomatic but cosmetically displeasing. Both can be caused by age, over exposure to the sun, hormonal changes, pregnancy, obesity and lack of movement. There is no medical reason to not have the spider veins removes since your body has more than enough veins to be able to pump blood throughout your body and that’s where several procedures come in.
Laser ablation surgery is a non invasive procedure done by cosmetic surgeons like Dr. Kevin Aister of Artemis Image in Scottsdale AZ. As explained by Dr. Aister, before the procedure a non invasive ultrasound is done to document flow disturbance or reflux of the vein. Once this has been documented, a special IV catheter is used under ultrasound guidance to cannulate the affected vein. Then a laser wire is inserted through the catheter with short bursts of laser energy applied to the vein. This heat (about 980 degrees F)then seals the vein rendering it unuseable as a collection reservoir. ie. The venous varicosity is ablated. This type of procedure is reserved for people who are suffering symptoms caused by varicose veins like fatigue, swelling and general soreness.
If you have no symptoms spider and varicose veins can be treated conventionally with or without injection therapy. Conservative management includes the use of vascular stockings. Injection therapy uses saline or alcohol base preparations that are injected into the vein to collapse the vein. Sclero therapy causes the lining of the veins to swell and cut off the flow of blood. The veins then clot and the body slowly disintegrates them.
Another way to remove varicose or spider veins is through stab phlebectomy which involves removing small clusters of veins through a small incision under local anesthetic in the office.
According to Dr. Aister, ‘Medically speaking peoples health is overall improved’ when laser ablation is performed and ‘since its not surgery the side effects are minimal’. For some though, their medical history can affect their ability to have any of these procedures done like those on blood thinners. Dr. Aister also states there are several ways both men and women can reduce their chances of getting spider veins like following a low salt diet rich in high-fiber foods, 30 minutes of simple exercise a day, avoid crossing your legs when sitting down, avoid or quit smoking, avoid wearing very tight clothes that constrict the waist, groin or legs and elevating your legs whenever possible. Once any of these procedures are done the down time is minimal and daily activities can be resumed almost immediately.
All the procedures are safe and may be covered by insurance policies depending on the viscosity of the vein. A referral isn’t necessary from your primary care giver but is a good place to start to ensure that the procedure is done by a board certified cosmetic surgeon with experience in these procedures.
For more information you can visit Artemis Image page on laser and vein by clicking here.
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