Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy National Nurses Week!

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, sponsored by the American Nurses Foundation. This
year's theme is "Year of the Healthy Nurse."

To celebrate and support nurses everywhere, we offer some healthy leg tips for nurses who are on their feet all day.

Did you know that varicose veins can be an occupational hazard for nurses? One tried and true way to reduce the effects of vein disease -- and in some cases, prevent symptoms -- is graduated compression

Please note that so-called "support hose" does not have to be ugly! Not today, with the many styles and colors that are available. 

Another remedy for aching legs is to elevate them periodically and at the end of the day. This post explains how to properly elevate legs. Lastly, nurses should remember to care for their feet. Here are some tips from the blog RN Central.

Happy National Nurses Week to all of the nurses out there. Thank you for all you do!

Visit the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine, or learn more about Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen.

Happy National Nurses Week!

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, sponsored by the American Nurses Foundation. This
year's theme is "Year of the Healthy Nurse."

To celebrate and support nurses everywhere, we offer some healthy leg tips for nurses who are on their feet all day.

Did you know that varicose veins can be an occupational hazard for nurses? One tried and true way to reduce the effects of vein disease -- and in some cases, prevent symptoms -- is graduated compression

Please note that so-called "support hose" does not have to be ugly! Not today, with the many styles and colors that are available. Another remedy for aching legs is to elevate them periodically and at the end of the day. 


This post explains how to properly elevate legs. Lastly, nurses should remember to care for their feet. Here are some tips from the blog RN Central.


Happy National Nurses Week to all of the nurses out there. Thank you for all you do!

Visit the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine, or learn more about Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fixing the problem

In our last two posts, we looked at the problem of leg pain in athletes, and how veins and exercise can possibly affect each other.

If vein problems keep someone from doing activities that aggravate his or her vein symptoms, then choosing alternate activities is one way to cope. Some people may find that swimming, for example, does not produce the same discomfort that running does.

Athletes can live with the problem, but they don’t have to. There are so many options for treatment so that people can continue doing their favorite sports or whatever activity they're passionate about. They might even see an improvement in their performance.

Modern treatments have excellent initial and long-term success rates when performed by an experienced phlebologist (vein specialist). Endovenous approaches are minimally invasive treatments used to address specific large varicose veins in the legs.

Endovenous ablation (EVLA) is considered the gold standard in the treatment of venous symptoms, with success rates between 90% and 98% after five years. It has largely replaced previous, more invasive standards of care, such as vein stripping.

Another option for treatment is sclerotherapy, performed either with ultrasound-guidance, or with a light-assist, which seals the vein wall of small varicose veins allowing them to fade away.

With both EVLA and sclerotherapy, patients can walk the day of the procedure and return to normal activity, including moderate exercise, within a few days.

The key to safe, effective vein treatment is to consult with a board certified vein specialist who can evaluate the entire venous system so that poorly functioning veins can be treated at the source.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How exercise impacts veins (and vice versa)

In our last post we began discussing how physically active people experiencing leg pain are possibly experiencing the effects of vein insufficiency. In this post we take a closer look.

During exercise your muscles require more oxygen, so veins dilate to increase the volume of blood flowing through the circulatory systembut if your veins are not working properly, that means more blood can pool in your legs. On the other hand, exercise is beneficial from a venous standpoint because anything that improves the function of the foot and calf muscle pumps to get the blood back up to the heart is good.

Walking is the best exercise for improving the muscle-pump function, especially following vein treatment. Although walking can help manage the symptoms, it does not prevent vein problemsNeither does exercise cause vein problems, except in extreme cases. Physical activities that require your legs to support heavier weight over prolonged periods of time, such as weightlifting or backpacking can put someone at increased risk for developing venous issues. Repeated exposure to increased intra-abdominal pressure, or pressure that is transmitted to lower extremities, can cause the normal system of valves and veins to weaken over time and become incompetent.

Repetitive motion sports such as endurance running, cycling and tennis can also put a lot of stress on your leg veins and over time may overcome a normal venous system.

In general, exercise (and working out the muscle pumps) is not detrimental for the vast majority of athletes who are participating in a more typical spectrum of activity. In fact, maximizing the efficiency of that system is beneficial.

Depending on each individuals degree of vein disease, he or she may become more symptomatic because the foot pump no longer counters the vein insufficiency. One persons level of activity, for instance, may be associated with the progression of vein disease if they have some pre-existing risk factors, such as age or family history.

While exercise can influence vein dysfunction, it doesnt necessarily prevent it or cause it. But can poorly performing veins affect athletic performance? The short answer is yes. If the venous system is not working correctly, then the extra de-oxygenated blood (and blood waste products like lactate) can cause discomfort, cramping, fatigue, or other conditions that diminish performance.

Even if legs feel great during training, vein issues can also cause legs to hurt after exertion and slow your recovery.

In our next post about athletes, exercise, and veins, we’ll turn to treatments to fix the problem. And be sure to visit the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine to learn more about your options for treatment.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Physical activity, leg pain…and veins?

Many athletes, professionals and amateurs alike, experience some kind of leg pain at one time or another, whether from the mechanics of pounding movement on a hard surface, or keeping their legs in the same position for extended periods. Rarely do they attribute the discomfort to a dysfunction in their venous (veins) system.

But not all aching legs are simply due to physical activity, or even the effects of aging. It may actually be vein insufficiency that’s causing those symptoms and not that five-mile run.

The first thing to understand that leg pain in general is not normal. If your legs hurt after exercise, you should find out why.

Some of the symptoms of vein disease are obvious: visible blue- or purple-colored “spider veins,” bulging varicose veins, or even open wounds (leg ulcers) on the leg or ankle. Other symptoms are much more subtle. In addition to achiness and swelling, sensations like an itching or tingling in the legs may be an indication of vein insufficiency. Leg cramps after long periods of inactivity, or while lying in bed at night, is another possible symptom.

Some people may experience no symptoms at all—and some merely accept them as an unavoidable byproduct of physical fitness. You can be in great shape and still have a vein disease that’s developing.

In our next post, we’ll look at how exercise impacts veins (and vice versa). If you wonder whether vein issues are affecting your physical performance, feel free to call the Vein Healthcare Center with any questions.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hidden signs of vein disease

Sometimes vein disease is unmistakable. Large, bulging varicose veins are a sure sign, as are bluish spider veins. But sometimes vein issues are harder to detect.

The 65-year-old woman in the picture to the right sought help because of veins in her right leg, but in her initial evaluation it became apparent through skilled ultrasound mapping that both legs were affected. Even she didn’t realize the disease was actually worse in her left leg than her right.

Other symptoms that may indicate vein problems are heaviness or aching in the legs. Swelling, throbbing, cramping, or burning sensations in the leg are other signs, as are restless legs. If you think you might be suffering from one or more symptoms of vein disease, ask yourself these 12 questions to find out more.

As for the patient in the picture, she had EVLA treatment on both legs, followed by ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy. Both of her legs – and her quality of life – have distinctly improved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Can I get vein treatment if I’m on blood thinners or chronic pain medication?

Yes, it is possible to be treated for venous issues when taking either blood thinners or chronic pain medications. In fact, for people who take these types of medications, treating their veins is not only possible, but can even be advantageous.

Blood thinners should not be an issue for someone receiving vein treatment, although those patients may be more prone to post-op bruising. However, blood thinners can be a relative contraindication – reason to withhold a certain medical treatment due to possible harm – in some cases. Your board-certified vein specialist should discuss with you if that is a potential issue.

As for chronic pain medications, this should have no bearing at all on vein procedures. In many cases, patients who are prescribed pain medication for leg pain are able to discontinue taking their chronic pain medications after their venous issues have been resolved.

The standard protocol at the VeinHealthcare Center is to offer patients a muscle relaxant before treatment – not because the procedure itself is painful, but because the time spent lying on the exam table may cause a strain on their neck or back. Every patient is different in this regard, and we offer pillows, bolts, blankets and hot packs to make the experience as comfortable as possible, whether the patient opts for pain medication or not.

Of course, patients should always tell their physician and care team about any medications that he or she is taking, no matter what the medical treatment, including vein treatment.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What is tumescent anesthesia?

Before we explain what tumescent anesthesia is, let’s talk about when it would be used in vein care.

Endovenous thermal ablation (using laser or radio frequency) is considered the gold standard in treatment of the great and small saphenous veins, two veins that are often the source of varicose veins in the lower leg.

Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) uses laser energy to create an intense localized thermal reaction in the incompetent vein. The thermal energy causes vein to seal shut, stopping the healthy blood flow from entering the damaged vein. This keeps the blood flowing toward the heart, not allowing it to change directions and return to the feet. The body will reabsorb the damaged and treated vein, forcing the blood to be diverted to healthy veins in the leg.

EVLA is an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure performed with local anesthetic.

Part of the treatment involves tumescent anesthesia, a technique in which a high volume of a dilute local anesthetic is infiltrated around the vein. Tumescent anesthesia serves three purposes during thermal ablation. First, the fluid causes the vein walls to collapse around the thermal fiber maximizing contact. Second, the fluid creates an insulating ring around the vein and thermal energy source. This protects all surrounding tissues, including nerves and muscles, thus stopping any type of collateral damage. The third function is as an anesthetic, keeping the patient comfortable during the procedure. 

The introduction of tumescent anesthesia into the body should not be painful but can be when administered by some physicians. Thus, before any vein treatment, consult with a board certified phlebologist who can provide a full understanding of all aspects of the procedure.

To learn more about this and other current topics in vein healthcare, click here. And if you’re interested in a free subscription to Vein Health News, just click here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Are varicose veins a cosmetic issue or a medical issue?

This is a question we get at the Vein Healthcare Center all the time.  Most healthcare providers would agree that if a patient is having pain and is unable to perform his or her work due to varicose veins, then it is medically necessary.

But all factors must be weighed when drawing a line between medical and “simply cosmetic,” not the least of which is restoring patients’ confidence and overall well-being. Even if a patient isn’t experiencing physical pain – but won’t swim in a pool or wear shorts to the beach because he’s ashamed of varicose veins – her quality of life is markedly diminished.

Additionally, it is common for venous disorders to be undiagnosed or undertreated. It’s important to remember that varicose veins are a symptom of early stage venous disease, and if left untreated could lead to larger medical issues.

From the perspective of insurance companies the difference between “cosmetic” and “medical” may be whether or not a vein has a connection to the deep system; if it does and the connection is leaking, then they consider treatment medical necessary. That said, there are many vein procedures that are covered by insurance, and one should not assume that treatment won’t be covered. Feel free to contact us at VHC to discuss the details of your coverage.

At VHC, our basic philosophy is that treating problematic veins isn’t about vanity – it’s about health and quality of life.

If you’re not sure whether or not you have vein disease, click here to find out more.