Unsightly veins and spider veins can be an indicator of an underlying unhealthy situation. Vein disease is one of the most underappreciated and insidious chronic medical conditions. Women are usually affected at an earlier age as a result of pregnancies, obesity, and inheritance. The incidence among men increases with age and is the result of inheritance, obesity, and job (long periods of standing or sitting).
Over time, unsightly veins and spider veins are often dismissed as cosmetic but often progress to ankle swelling, skin discoloration, dryness, and skin fragility. The process may take years and could lead to ulceration, which is painful and alters an active lifestyle, ultimately leading to disability and time away from work.
Dr. Samuel Martin, the medical director of Vascular Vein Centers who founded the practice in 2001, developed an interest in venous disease while head of a wound care center.
“We were surprised to find that more than 50 percent of our patients had wounds which were the result of venous disease,” says Dr. Martin. “These wounds were painful, frequently disabling, and took months to heal. Worse yet, they had a tendency to recur if the underlying veins were not treated and compression stockings not worn.”
This experience gave Dr. Martin a passion to educate other doctors and patients about the consequences of venous disease, the diagnosis, and the benefits of early treatment.
Venous disease and its consequences are the result of gravity over time and, in the case of pregnant women and obese patients, resistance to the outflow of blood from the legs due to pelvic pressure.
“We control venous disease but don’t cure it,” says Dr. Martin, explaining that diseased veins can be treated and eliminated, but with time and gravity other veins which were normal will become diseased. Therefore, an important adjunct to treatment is lifestyle modification. This can be as simple as wearing compression stockings but can include increasing activity level, weight loss, and aggressive moisturizing of the legs, especially the lower calves and ankles. Leg health truly comes down to the old adage of a stitch in time to save nine.
Vascular Vein Centers solely specializes in leg health and control of venous disease. Using the latest in proven therapies with a focus on minimally invasive procedures, patients can rest assured they are getting optimal care by board-certified surgeons with residency, fellowship training, and years of experience.
The mainstays of treatment are laser ablation and chemical ablation. Experience with thousands of patients has been invaluable in appreciating all the nuances of venous disease. Unlike some centers that treat veins, arteries, and even the heart or general medical issues, Vascular Vein Centers treats veins. There is more to the treatment than just performing a procedure.
Many patients come in with cosmetic concerns – a varicose vein or embarrassing spider veins on the thighs or calves. Frequently they haven’t appreciated the subtle symptoms of venous disease: heaviness, pressure, and a slight ache in the lower leg which increases as the day goes on. Many patients are even unaware they have swelling, most likely late in the day, when thumb pressure over the ankle bone can leave an impression. Frequently there are skin changes, thickening at the ankle not seen in the upper calf, or dryness and even scaling of the skin in the lower leg.
Even though a patient may present with cosmetic concerns, a careful history is obtained with a complete physical exam. It often becomes obvious that the initial concern is only the tip of the iceberg. The Vascular Vein Centers mission is to not only treat venous disease but to educate patients so they understand the process and what to expect in the future.