Coloradans love our winters, but around March many people are looking forward to summer. While you’re planning vacations and visits with family, it’s also a great time to address any nagging health issues that might take away from your enjoyment of the warm weather. Many people suffer from painful, aching and tender legs that make them reluctant to participate in activities. If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, or if you’ve noticed raised veins in your legs, know that non- or minimally invasive treatments are available that can relieve your discomfort. The key is to start treatment now so that you’re back on your feet in time for fun in the sun.
First: Talk to a Specialist
A licensed phlebologist has the expertise and proper equipment to detect and diagnose venous issues. The presence of varicose veins means that valves in the veins are malfunctioning and allowing blood to flow back down toward the feet. The increased pressure created by this reverse blood flow manifests in the visible varicose and spider veins we’re all familiar with. Unfortunately, these problems are not only a matter of appearance. Accompanying symptoms of varicose and spider veins include pain, fatigue, swelling, aching, skin discoloration and, in serious cases, bleeding.
When the veins pop up on the surface of the legs, it’s easy to see that there’s a problem, but sometimes the presence of venous disease isn’t so obvious. When the damaged veins are under the skin, they can only be detected with an ultrasound. Despite their “invisibility,” they might still cause the patient discomfort from reverse blood flow. For treating both types of veins, the first step is to try a simple, non-invasive treatment: compression stockings.
The specialists at Artemis always attempt to treat venous disease without any medical procedures. If you are diagnosed with a vein condition, we recommend that you wear compression stockings with a minimum pressure of 15 to 20 mmHg for three months. This three-month trial period is why it’s a good idea to get an evaluation well before summer. Many patients discover that the discomfort caused by their vein condition is so improved by wearing compression stockings that they do not need any other treatment.
What’s Next? Exercise or Ablation
If compression stockings don’t alleviate symptoms, there are other options. One approach benefits your whole body, not just your legs! Following a program to maintain one’s BMI (body mass index) at 35 or below, while incorporating leg-strengthening exercises that work your calves and ankles, can do wonders. Your personal physician can advise you about the best exercises for your fitness level. Exercise can alleviate symptoms quickly, but if you experience pain between workouts, especially after standing for long periods, you can relax by elevating your legs above your heart for 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and pressure.
If your veins resist these interventions, your phlebologist may recommend a gentle procedure called endovenous laser ablation, an approach that requires only a short recovery period and creates minimal discomfort. Over 99% of patients experience no complications with this treatment.
Before treatment, you can enjoy a light meal. Most patients find it unnecessary to take medication for pain or anxiety, though it is available. During this procedure, an advanced ultrasound machine helps locate the veins requiring treatment, and the doctor lightly marks the skin. The rest of the procedure is almost as painless. After the doctor administers a local anesthetic, a special hollow needle is then inserted into the diseased vein, granting access to a tiny laser fiber that extends through the vein. The laser is turned on, and the vein is ablated as the fiber is withdrawn.
At Artemis, we pride ourselves on our state-of-the-art CoolTouch CTEV™ laser. This is the best instrument for vein treatment because it doesn’t use as much heat as other machines. This means that patients experience less pain, less bruising, and a quicker recovery.
Recovery and Summer Fun
After treatment, patients wear compression stockings for 48 hours. Following the procedure, you can go about your day, though it’s best to take a break from your exercise routine and avoid strenuous activity. You may experience slight bruising and minor pain or discomfort, but this is temporary and remedied easily with an over-the-counter analgesic like ibuprofen. Compression stockings are worn during the day for two more weeks. After that, it’s time for summer!
There’s no need to live with discomfort, especially if it prevents you from enjoying your normal activities. We are always happy to discuss your symptoms over the phone and schedule an appointment for further evaluation if necessary. Just give us a call. Visit us online to read what other patients have to say about their experiences with us.