More than 80 million Americans suffer from varicose veins or spider veins. Left untreated, these diseased or abnormal leg veins can get progressively worse and cause other complications. But as Tony Gasparis, MD, a vascular surgeon and director of the Center for Vein Care explains, treatment options are available.
What is Chronic Venous Disease?
Chronic venous disease (CVD) occurs when the veins in your legs are not working effectively and it becomes increasingly difficult for blood to pass through the vein walls or valves to flow back to your heart. There are six stages of the disease, from spider veins in the earliest stage to open sores in the most advanced stage.
What are the symptoms?
In its mildest stage, CVD appears as spider veins, which may look like small red or blue tree branches or spider webs close to the skin surface. Spider veins may then develop into varicose veins, which are enlarged, rope-like blood vessels that are swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. In CVD’s more advanced stages, symptoms such as leg swelling with varicose veins may be present. You may also begin to see skin changes in your legs (usually a darkening of the skin or a rash due to pooling of blood and increased pressure in the veins). Or you may see a sore with a scab, usually on one or both of your inner ankles. In CVD’s most advanced stage, an open ulcer (sore) with oozing fluid may be present. Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is another name for the more advanced stages of CVD.
Are there risk factors?
While the progression of chronic venous disease does not appear to be affected by one’s gender, or favor one leg over the other, there are several risk factors:
- Age (over 50)
- Family history of varicose veins
- History of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Prolonged periods of standing or sitting
- Damaged or diseased valves
When should I seek medical help?
Self-help measures such as exercise, elevating the legs or wearing compression stockings may ease the symptoms of varicose veins but usually do not prevent the progression of the disease. If the way your legs look and feel becomes a concern, consider a consultation with a boardcertified vascular surgeon. The sooner you receive a thorough evaluation and are properly diagnosed, the better.
What treatment options are available?
Some patients with advanced vein disease may have a combination of superficial and deep vein disease. And only a few vein centers can adequately diagnose and offer comprehensive treatment for the full spectrum of vein disease using the most advanced, least invasive surgical and nonsurgical techniques, including:
- Endovenous Ablation Therapies. Using laser or radio frequency to treat superficial (saphenous) leg veins, these therapies have replaced traditional vein stripping surgery for the vast majority of patients with severe vein disease in the leg.
- Varithena®. This non-surgical procedure is even less invasive than endovenous therapies. It requires only an injection of a medication under ultrasound guidance. No anesthesia or sedation is necessary.
- Mini-Phlebectomy. This surgical technique removes varicose veins under local anesthesia using tiny 1 to 2 mm incisions and no stitches.
- Sclerotherapy. This treatment is for smaller veins (spider veins) that can’t be removed but are treated by injections.
What is different about Stony Brook Vein Center's approach?
At Stony Brook Vein Center, all of the treatments mentioned above can be performed right in our office. Our center is the first and only one on Long Island to receive full accreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission. Our highly knowledgeable, board-certified vascular surgeons offer comprehensive care tailored to meet your needs. We are also active in venous research and education, and lead the field in making clinical advances (such as Varithena) available to our patients. For your convenience, we also have five convenient locations: Centereach, East Setauket, Huntington, Sayville and Smithtown.
To learn more about chronic venous disease and the Stony Brook Vein Center, call (631)444-VEIN (8346) or visit stonybrookveincenter.com.
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