Step-Wise Approach to Vein Health
Most Coloradoans enjoy an active lifestyle, but if pain or swelling in your legs is slowing you down, or if your legs just feel tired all the time, you might have venous disease. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to alleviate symptoms and possibly avoid medical interventions.
Venous disease presents itself in a variety of ways. “Venous insufficiency” is when dilated and diseased veins allow reverse blood flow in the legs. Early symptoms may include swelling, aching and skin changes. You might even experience fatigue in the legs as blood pools and creates a feeling of “fullness.” Over time, this can eventually lead to visible, “ropey” varicose veins.
If you have these symptoms but no visible varicosities, it’s possible that other varicosities exist just under the surface of the skin. These can only be seen by ultrasound, and it takes a specially trained physician, known as a phlebologist, to detect these issues. Regardless of your level of disease, a phlebologist will follow a step-wise treatment plan before offering a minimally invasive procedure to treat diseased veins.
The first step is non-invasive treatment. We recommend that anyone diagnosed with venous insufficiency do at least a three-month trial of wearing compression stockings with a minimum pressure of 12 to 18 mmHg. You can find these at local pharmacies, sports equipment retailers and online, or your doctor can provide them. Many patients find that compression stockings work so well and provide such improvement of symptoms and performance that further treatment is not necessary.
For others, long-term use of compression stockings doesn’t work well. In these cases, a phlebologist will consider more advanced options. Other measures include weight reduction to a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or less, and leg elevation. Calf-pump muscle exercises are also important. Calf-pump exercises are designed to improve muscle strength and ankle flexibility. To see what calf-pump exercises for venous disease look like, check out a YouTube video by Lewis Sellers, MD, at https://bit.ly/1QngmzM.
If none of those measures offer adequate relief, the final step is laser treatment of the diseased veins. Minimally invasive procedures help shut down the damaged veins with a special laser tool, so the remaining healthy veins can take over. Patients report very little discomfort, if any, and they can return to normal activity within hours. If you require such treatment, you’ll be amazed at how good you can feel and look, and results are noticeable within days.
Colorado is the fittest state in the Union, but many people in great physical health still have venous disease. If you have vein issues, seen or unseen, and the above measures have not reached a satisfactory conclusion, then it’s time to consider a minimally invasive treatment. We can help.