FAQs About Veins
How Do Veins Work?
Blood flows through a system of blood vessels, which are veins and arteries. Arteries carry blood rich in oxygen from your heart to all regions of the body. The function of veins is to transport the blood back to the heart. In order for veins to work, the valves must close all the way to prevent backflow of blood. When the muscles in your calf contract; blood is squeezed from the veins. When the muscles in your calf relax, the valves in the veins temporarily close to prevent the blood from flowing away from the heart, in the wrong direction.
In your legs, there are 3 types of veins; superficial, perforating, and deep veins. Think of the perforating veins as connecting the superficial veins to the deep veins. If you are standing, superficial veins run vertically, just beneath the surface of the skin and are often times visible to the naked eye. Superficial veins are responsible for transporting as little as 10% of the blood in the legs. The 10% of blood carried in the superficial veins flow directly into the perforating veins. The perforating veins run perpendicular to superficial veins and again, their function is to connect the superficial veins to the deep veins. Deep veins are located deep within the muscle of your leg and run parallel to superficial veins. Deep veins are responsible for transporting as much as 90% of the blood in your legs back to your heart.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are large swollen veins that bulge under the skin and are typically blue or green in color. An abnormal valve or a weakened vessel wall causes the bulging. In a normally functioning vein, the valve prevents blood flowing in the wrong direction back towards the foot. In a varicose vein, the valve is damaged and does not close properly. This allows blood to escape backwards when muscles relax. The result is increased pressure in the vein causing it to become swollen with excess blood. Varicose veins can occur anywhere on the leg.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins, also known, as telangiectasias are small, dilated blood vessels that appear near the surface of the skin. Spider veins tend to be red or blue in color, and can be painful, itchy, and even potentially bleed.
Spider veins are generally caused by an increase in pressure in veins close to the skin from increased pressure in the deeper veins. The deeper veins may include veins in the reticular dermis (reticular) or underlying pathology in the superficial or deep system. In some cases an ultrasound (US) needs to be done to determine if there is an origin.
How is vein disease diagnosed?
Vein disease is diagnosed through a physical exam and a venous ultrasound test. This test will determine if there are any blood clots in the deep, superficial and perforator veins. The ultrasound is then used to evaluate the blood flow within the vein, determine direction of blood flow through the vein, and identify reflux.
What types of vein treatments are available?
There are a number of treatments available for varicose veins. Many of them are simple things a person can do immediately to relieve symptoms.
- Elevate the legs as much as possible. If you can take half-hour breaks during the day to rest, do it. It is important to raise the legs up above the level of the heart to get the maximum effect, and to do this for about a half-hour each time.
- Wear compression stockings (such as TED Hose or Jobst stockings). Put them on in the morning before walking around and before the veins become more swollen. If you try this and experiences worsening pain, especially after walking, remove them and see a health care professional.
- If you are overweight, try to lose weight. A healthy diet high in fiber and low in fat and salt can help.
- Do not cross your legs when sitting.
- Walking is good exercise, and can help your muscles force the blood out of the deeper vein system.
If none of these options work, or provide only minimal relief, it may be time to see the specialists at The Vein Center of Mon General Hospital.
What is Schlerotherapy, and how does it work?
In Schlerotherapy, a problem vein is injected with a chemical solution (sclerosant). The chemical solution causes the blood vessel to close and it will eventually disappear.
What type of doctor should I see to evaluate and treat my vein problems?
Board certified vascular and plastic surgeons and general surgeons who specialize in veins are the most qualified to treat vein problems. They are the only doctors with extensive training in vascular surgery.
What Are Important Factors in Choosing a Vein Care Center?
Most importantly, is qualified medical staff – board certified vascular surgeons, plastic surgeons, general surgeons and certified ultrasonographers and/or certified registered vascular technologists (RVT).
Next, look for a vein care center with experience and commitment to quality. Their practice should focus on the treatment of venous reflux disease, chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins and spider veins. Surgeons who focus solely on these areas will have more experience with the most state-of-the-art procedures and effective treatments available.
How does the VenaCure EVLT system work to treat varicose veins?
A laser fiber is fired inside and along the length of the faulty, varicose vein. The laser energy heats the blood, which then damages the vein wall, shrinking them closed so that blood can no longer flow through.
Is loss of this vein a problem?
No. There are many veins in the leg and, after treatment, the blood in the faulty veins will be diverted to normal veins with functional valves. The resulting increase in circulation will significantly relieve symptoms and improve appearance.
Are there any possible side effects of varicose vein treatment with the VenaCure EVLT system?
The VenaCure EVLT procedure, like all minimally invasive procedures, can potentially have some slight bruising, which commonly disappears within the first few weeks. You will feel a delayed tightness (or “pulling” sensation) 4-7 days after laser treatment, which is normal and expected following a successful treatment. All surgical procedures involve some element of risk and have the potential for complications. This should be balanced against the risk of complications if your varicose veins remain untreated. Consult your physician for further information.
Is the laser safe?
You will be given a pair of special glasses to wear to protect your eyes, however this is just a precaution against accidental firing of laser energy outside the body.
How successful is the VenaCure EVLT procedure?
Clinical data with up to 5 years of follow-up show success rates of 93-98%. This is much higher than surgical ligation and stripping, radiofrequency electrosurgery, and injection sclerotherapy. Laser treatment for varicose veins has become the ‘gold standard’.
How much does laser varicose vein treatment cost?
VenaCure EVLT ™, when medically necessary (e.g., for relief of symptoms), is commonly reimbursed by most carriers (including Medicare), limiting the cost to the patient. Contact your specific insurer for details.