Thursday, June 5, 2014

varicose and spider veins

This past year I started noticing greenish colored veins showing through my skin behind and near my right knee (along with a patch of spider veins already living close by). I had problems with spider veins in the past, (especially during pregnancy) but I never had varicose vein issues until now. I don't know exactly why they showed up but I knew I had to get it treated before it became a real problem. 

Honestly, the purplish spider veins were the real eye sore for me, so I was hoping to get rid of those right away. Unfortunately, the doctor I sought for this problem said that before he could treat the spider veins he had to take care of the bigger problem, the diseased vein that was causing the spider veins in the first place. With an ultra sound device he showed me that the great saphenous vein was not working as it should be due to reflux (blood flowing backwards). 

So, last week we decided on a medical procedure called EVLT to be done to my great saphenous vein (the diseased vein) in my right leg. After this problem is taken care of we can move on to treating the spider veins with Sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is the common procedure used to treat spider veins where a medicine is injected into the vessels, which makes them shrink.

I had the EVLT procedure done yesterday morning around 9:30am and I walked out of there like a pirate with a wooden leg around 11:30am. I then went to Whole Foods with my husband for lunch (leg elevated of course).  During the actual procedure, it was temporarily uncomfortable but not painful. The discomfort was mainly from my vein going into spasms. The doctor made it through smoothly and it was a breeze thereafter. 

EVLT stands for Endovenous laser treatment.  It is a minimally invasive ultrasound-guided technique used for treating varicose veins using laser energy.  

During the procedure, a catheter bearing a laser fiber was inserted under ultrasound guidance into the great saphenous vein through a small puncture at my knee crease. The catheter was then advanced, (also under ultrasound guidance), up to the level of my groin. Local anesthesia was injected around and along the vein using ultrasound imaging. The laser was then activated while the catheter was slowly withdrawn, resulting in obliteration of the saphenous vein along its entire length. The entire procedure took about two hours. The leg is now bandaged from ankle to groin until tomorrow...then I will be wearing just a stocking for another two weeks. 

As of right now, I am comfortable and in no pain.  

I wanted to share the experience of the treatments I´m going through to possibly help others who suffer from weak or damaged veins. I´ll ask permission from my Doctor to use his name and facility and the before and after photos of my legs. 

To start, here is information I gathered before my procedure to be more educated on varicose and spider veins. I hope this also helps you.

Varicose veins are caused by failure of blood to circulate properly throughout the body. 

The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients to the whole body through the arteries. As your leg muscles squeeze, they push blood back to the heart from your lower body against the flow of gravity. Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backwards as it moves up your legs. If the valves become weak or damaged, it increases the diameter of the veins and making it difficult for the blood valves to close properly. This inability for the valves to properly close causes blood pooling, enlarging the veins. Over time, these enlarged veins become more varicose, sometimes even causing great discomfort.

Varicose veins are sometimes surrounded by thin, red capillaries known as spider veins (group of tiny blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin, also called telangiectasias).

Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller. They’re highly visible and particularly noticeable to the sufferer. Spider veins are red or blue and they lie much closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. Spider veins can be found nearly anywhere on the body but typically on the legs and face. They may cover a small spot or a very large patch of skin.

Similar to the causes of varicose veins, spider veins occur when blood in the veins then gets backed up in the legs. This condition is also called venous insufficiency, and the pooled blood enlarges the vein. People can develop spider veins due to factors like hormonal changes, genetics and sun exposure.

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