Making Veins Vanish

Making Veins VanishImproved Technology Helps Make Strides in Treating Vein Disorders

By Anita Doberman

As summer approaches and you start to wear more revealing clothing, you may be concerned about blue bulging veins on your legs.

Don’t worry – you are not alone. According to the American College of Phlebology, the field of medicine that deals with vein disease, more than 80 million Americans suffer from some kind of venous disorder, most commonly varicose and spider veins.

As opposed to arteries, which bring blood from the heart to extremities, veins bring oxygen-depleted blood back toward the heart. Since blood pressure is much lower on the return trip, veins rely on one-way valves to keep the blood from going the wrong way. If the valves don’t work properly, blood starts pooling and veins become enlarged, manifesting as varicose and spider veins.

Varicose veins are twisted veins that lie deeper in the skin. They can be large or small, noticeable or hidden. Spider veins are closer to the surface and appear red, purple, or blue. Both varicose and spider veins can be cosmetically unappealing and are associated with unpleasant symptoms such as burning, aching, fatigue in the legs, pain, swelling and itching.

The good news is, correcting these conditions is not what it used to be a few years ago, when patients had to go through surgery and longer recoveries. Today, most men and women afflicted with vein problems undergo easy and relatively painless procedures with short recovery times.

If you want to get rid of varicose or spider veins because of health or cosmetic concerns, the Emerald Coast is home to experienced phlebologists who are trained in the latest technological advances and state of the art facilities.

Dr. Jay Jimenez, of the Vein Center of Florida, with locations in Destin and Pensacola, is such an expert. He is both a phlebologist and an interventional radiologist, a physician who specializes in minimally invasive procedures using guided imaging. He also is the first physician in the Florida Panhandle to have performed endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) for the elimination of varicose veins and has achieved excellent results for his patients.

EVLT is performed in the office with local anesthetics to minimize any discomfort. The physician utilizes an ultrasound device to find the major source of varicose veins – usually a perforator vein or the greater or lesser saphenous vein. A thin laser is placed in the vein and laser energy is used to collapse it, eliminating the bulging vein at its source. The blood then is diverted to other veins in the legs so that loss of the varicose vein is not a problem for the patient.

 “Most of our patients are surprised by how quickly they resume normal activities after vein procedures,” Jimenez said. To help with recovery, patients are encouraged to walk around and get the blood flowing in their legs almost immediately after their procedures.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, we can treat varicose veins in one visit that lasts approximately two hours,” Jimenez said.

Dr. Rick Grisoli, of the Destin Vein Center located in the Destin Plastic Surgery center, a phlebologist with more than 15 years experience working with venous diseases, stresses that everyone can be comfortable with these procedures.

“Years ago people reported they felt pain during a procedure like schlerotherapy [for the treatment of spider veins] but this is not the case anymore – it’s usually painless. We use a different solution and the needle stick is the size of eye lash,” explains Grisoli.

There are many procedures available for the treatment of venous diseases. EVLT is not the only method. In ambulatory phlebectomy, small incisions are made to remove large varicose veins in sections, leaving unnoticeable puncture scars.

For spider veins, sclerotherapy – injecting a solution into the veins and causing them to shrink slowly and eventually disappear – probably is most effective.

“Most insurance policies will cover treatments for varicose veins,” says Grisoli, including EVLT. However, if patients are only treating spider veins, which are considered a cosmetic issue, they probably will have to pay out of pocket.

If you are ready to take the first step and set up a consultation with a phlebologist, or learn about your options, now is a great time to do so. The field of phlebology is growing each year, and the American Medical Association has added phlebology as a new Self Designated Practice Specialty, meaning more physicians will receive training in this field.

“We encourage patients to come for an initial consultation and discuss their specific situation,” Jimenez said. Only a physician can suggest the right course of action for each individual case.

What Can You Do About Vein Disease?

Conservative intervention includes wearing compression stockings or using topical medications to ease discomfort.

Corrective measures include endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) and sclerotherapy, which in-volves collapsing the vein.

Laser and pulsed light treatment, as well as radiofrequency occlusion, are methods that involve heating the vein, causing it to contract and close.

Ambulatory phlebectomy consists of physically removing the problem vein.

Most insurance companies will pay for treatment of varicose veins but not spider veins.

Contributing factors to venous insufficiency are heredity, hormonal changes, pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone treatment, standing for long periods of time, aging, and the use of birth control pills.

It is estimated that 50 percent of women are affected by vein diseases.