Wednesday, February 19, 2020

One Chef's Perspective

Joshua B. is a chef. Years in the restaurant business have kept him on his feet for extended periods of time, which— combined with a family history of varicose veins— was a recipe for unhealthy legs. 

“I started getting varicose veins in high school, but as unsightly as they were, they never really bothered me,” said Joshua.

As the New Hampshire native got older, his veins got worse. They continued to get bigger and stay swollen for longer periods of time. Even crawling on the floor with his young kids was hard because of the varicose veins on his knees. But the self-proclaimed “tough guy” continued to live with the discomfort. When he was about 27 years old, however, he started to experience undeniable medical issues.

The skin covering Joshua’s veins gradually got thinner and thinner, especially on the insides of his ankles. Eventually the skin got so thin on the inside of his right ankle that it ruptured and began spraying blood “like a squirt gun coming out of the side of his foot,” as Joshua described it.

“It was scary. I didn’t know what to do, so I rushed to the emergency room where they gave me a Novocaine injection and stitches that stayed in for a week,” he said.

That was the first emergency. Ten months later another bleeder opened up higher up on Joshua’s right leg. He finally began to take the problem seriously
and went to two different doctors for treatment.

One physician encouraged vein stripping. The other physician advised against it but offered no alternatives. Joshua was confused: “I never really had a clear path of what to do.”

Finally, Joshua found his way to the Vein Healthcare Center. An ultrasound revealed the source of the problem, and Joshua worked with Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen on a treatment plan. He proceeded to have endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) on his right leg first, followed by his left leg two months later. Dr. Asbjornsen followed both EVLA procedures with sclerotherapy. As Joshua put it, the EVLA “dams up the river,” and then the sclerotherapy gets rid of the other streams leading up to it.

Joshua was nervous before the procedures, but found that it was a lot easier than he expected. Although his goal was to restore healthy venous return
in his legs, he’s been surprised by how much more comfortable and confident he feels.

“I’m not as apprehensive about wearing shorts and showing off my legs now, because before they were gnarly and bumpy,” he said. “They’re not Tom Brady’s legs yet, but they look much better than they did.”

Overall, the experience has been an educational one for Joshua. Once he really understood what varicose veins were and what his specific problem was, he couldn’t wait to fix it. In fact, he wishes a vein exam could be part of every general physical.

“It’s a quick thing to look at someone’s legs to see if there are varicosities. There are a lot of possible treatments, and the earlier you start the better off you are.”

Click here to read more about real patients' experiences with vein disease and treatment. If you have any questions, we encourage you to contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center!

Monday, January 20, 2020

10 Tips To Make Your Legs Feel Better

If your legs feel achy or tired, it may be a venous issue. Best to check with a vein specialist for a thorough evaluation. (See tip #10 below!)

In the meantime, there are things you can do to alleviate your discomfort and perhaps even prevent your symptoms from progressing:

1. Elevate. Elevate your legs above your heart as often as possible -- for as long as 30 minutes or as briefly as three minutes. The best time is after you have been standing or after a hot shower.

2. Wear loose-fitting clothing. Avoid tight-fitting clothes around your legs and waist. It will help by not impeding circulation in your lower body.

3. Avoid high heels. High-heeled shoes shorten the muscles in the back of your leg and prevent deep veins from operating at their full capacity.

4. Sit properly. Focus on good posture and avoid crossing your legs  or sitting in ways that can compress veins for prolonged periods.

5. Walk. Walking causes the rhythmic contraction of calf muscles and helps promote blood flow to the heart. Walk at least 30 minutes every day – all at once, or in shorter increments.

6. Take a break. Take frequent walking breaks to avoid sitting or standing for periods of more than two hours.

7. Wear compression stockings. Wearing compression stockings purchased from your pharmacy will help promote the flow of blood when you are flying, on your feet for long periods, or carrying heavy loads.

8. Don’t smoke. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke constricts veins and affects overall circulation.

9. Know your history. Women with a family history of vein disorders, or those who have relatives with varicose veins, should wear compression stockings during menarche and menopause, and during pregnancy – most importantly, during the first trimester.

10. See a vein specialist. Contact a board certified phlebologist for a screening and evaluation, or to find out more about risks, prevention, and treatment of venous disease.

To make an appointment with Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, founder of the Vein Healthcare Center, click here or call 207-221-7799. We can help make your legs feel better!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Compression: How To Put It On & Take It Off

At the Vein Healthcare Center, we've said it before and we'll keep on saying it: we love compression!

To help patients better understand how to put on and take off their compression stockings -- what they refer to in vein care as "donning and doffing" -- we've adapted this downloadable guide from our friends at medi-usa.

If you have any questions about compression, please contact us at 27-221-7799 or email If you're interested in taking the next step in vein care, click here to learn more.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Don't forget the "medi" in medi-spa

There are more than 4,200 so-called "medi-spas" in the U.S. Some of them offer facials and massages, while others offer vein procedures or cosmetic enhancements like Botox or dermabrasion. But is it safe?

In our latest issue of Vein Health News, we take a look at these businesses where aesthetics meets medicine. We also offer some good advice on how to make sure that you're not wasting your money, or worse, putting your health at risk.

If you have questions about vein procedures and safety, please ask us! Call the Vein Healthcare Center at 207-221-7799 (Monday through Friday during regular business hours), or send us an email at

Monday, October 7, 2019

The latest issue of Vein Health News!

We've released the latest issue of Vein Health News! 

In the cover story “Skin: Dermatological Changes & Vein Health” we explore how vein specialists use the clues in skin -- everything from color and thickness, to visible spider veins and ulcers -- to help diagnose a patient's vein disorders. 

We also take a look at "medi-spas" and how consumers can choose their aesthetic procedures and practitioners wisely -- and why they should.

In the same issue, we share updates in the world of compression and even give illustrated tips for getting compression stockings on and off with ease. 

Click here to read all this and more. If you would like more information about skin, vein health and the right treatment for you, give us a ring or drop us a line at the Vein Healthcare Center.

You can call 207-221-7799 (Monday through Friday during regular business hours), or send us an email at

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Meet Nicole Strout, NP!

As a Nurse Practitioner, Nicole Strout, NP, supports Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, founder of the Vein Healthcare Center. Nikki joined the VHC team after providing care at an orthopedic practice in Portland. She attended nursing school as an undergraduate at Marshall University in West Virginia before receiving her Masters in Nursing from Walden University in Minnesota.

In addition to spending time with her husband, a fisherman in Alaska, and their three sons, ages 5, 3, and 9 months, Nikki enjoys the Maine outdoors – including going out on her father-in-law’s lobster boat! Read on to learn more about Nikki.

Q: How do you help patients at VHC?
A: I meet with new patients and review their medical history as well as give them a physical exam. We spend a lot of time discussing their health goals.

Q: Why is that first-visit conversation so important?
A: I work closely with Dr. Asbjornsen to determine the best treatment plan for each person, so I want to give her the most complete picture of each patient’s situation as possible. I also want every patient to feel heard, so I really tune in and listen to what their complaints are. One of the first physicians I ever worked for taught me that 90 percent of the time, the patient is going to tell me what’s wrong with them. In my experience I’ve found that that’s the best way to develop a relationship – and it streamlines their care.

Q: What is it like working with Dr. Asbjornsen?
A: She is one of the kindest, most patient physicians I’ve ever worked with. People sometimes feel that it’s hard to find someone in healthcare that you can trust and develop a good relationship with. Dr. Asbjornsen tries to do that, and so do I. So does the rest of the staff.

Q: Why are you a good fit for VHC?
A: When I was an RN, before I received my Masters in Nursing, I worked in vein treatment, so I have that background. I also like that patients with vein issues and venous insufficiency tend to be more involved in their treatment and more proactive in their approach to health. Plus, I love helping people, advising them and getting them on the right path so they can stay active.

Q: What do you like the most about vein care?
A: I think that it’s so rewarding to help people who come in with pain but can’t figure out the underlying cause. We help them figure it out, and our procedures and help with their symptoms and get them back to their baseline health and feeling so much better.

Q: What do you do when you’re not working or taking care of three young kids?
A: My sanity is running! That’s how I keep my mind functioning well.

To learn more about the team at the Vein Healthcare Center, click here. If you'd like to make an appointment to evaluate your vein health and learn about treatment options, click here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

To stand or not to stand?

Standing desks are all the rage at workplaces now. But are they actually good for your health?

Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen says that specific to vein health, the short answer is: maybe.

In 2015, a meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that “prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity." 

The studies showed that physical inactivity (the fourth-leading risk factor for death for people all around the world, according to the World Health Organization) can lead to premature death from cardiovascular issues and cancer, as well as cause chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.

Too much sitting can also increase the risk of getting varicose veins. If you already have vein issues, you may notice that symptoms get worse after sitting for prolonged periods of time.

So is standing any better? Compared with the research on prolonged sitting, relatively little research has been done to study the health effects of prolonged occupational standing. The few studies that do exist have demonstrated a relationship between prolonged standing at work and various health outcomes such as elevated risk of heart disease and musculoskeletal pain. 

We covered this subject in a previous issue of Vein Health News. In the article “Standing on the job: How at-risk occupations put a strain on veins,” we discussed the risks of people with jobs that keep them on their feet all day, such as teachers, hair dressers, medical professionals, and many others. We can add to that list people who work at a standing desk all day.

From a venous standpoint (so to speak), remaining in the same position too long – whether you’re sitting or standing – leads to poor blood circulation (hydrostatic venous pressure) and blood pooling in the lower limbs, which can lead to varicose veins over time.

If you do opt for a standing desk, consider using a balance board to keep you continuously contracting and relaxing your calf muscles, not to mention strengthening your core muscles. (Whether this helps with work productivity depends on the individual!)

If you choose to stick with a traditional sitting desk, an exercise ball chair, motion stool, or “wobble chair,” can provide you with the same kind of calf muscle readjustments throughout the day.

There are also adjustable desks that allow you to switch between sitting and standing positions throughout the day.

In conclusion, if you find standing desks more comfortable or effective, then by all means, use one. 

Regardless of the kind of desk you use, take regular breaks from standing or sitting for extended periods of time. Set your alarm to remind you to take a brief walk, or simply do some deep knee bends, or other stretching exercises. 

Perhaps the simplest circulation-promoting exercise is the calf pump. In this simple toe-tap exercise, you tap both of your feet for a minute or two, going back and forth between heels and toes. This squeezes the deep veins in the legs and forces the blood to circulate through the leg. It feels great whether you’ve been sitting or standing for a long period of time. 

To learn more about venous health and treatment of varicose veins, spider veins, and related issues, contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center.