Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Before & After: Visible results from vein treatment

This 56-year-old VHC patient had all the typical symptoms of venous disease, in addition to a history of ulcers at her ankle, bleeding from her varicosities, and a past vein stripping. EVLA treatment, followed by five sessions of sclerotherapy, resolved all of her issues.

Many of the symptoms of venous disease are invisible to the eye, though they affect people greatly. For example, one Vein Healthcare Center patient had no pain in her legs, but they felt "like cement" at the end of the day. She couldn't move them!

For other patients, vein problems are right there on the surface. 

Every single case is different so, of course, results vary. But when the source of the problem is located (using ultrasound mapping), then treatment is more likely to be effective.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, take a look at pictures of former patients of the Vein Healthcare Center. Every person has different vein issues, and we customize a treatment plan for each individual to address his or her specific goals. 

If you're ready to discuss your vein health, contact us! We're happy to answer your questions.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Board certification: what it is and why it’s important

People have various motivations for seeking vein treatment, including aesthetic reasons, but it’s important to remember that treatments for spider veins or varicose veins — as minimally invasive as they may be — are still medical procedures. That’s why it’s important to be informed and to go to a provider who is certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM).

The ABVLM, formerly the American Board of Phlebology, was established in 2007 to improve the standards of medical practitioners and the quality of patient care related to the treatment of venous disorders and all aspects of venous disease.

The ABVLM also offers a Board Certification Exam, which ensures that physicians who specialize in phlebology (vein care) have met rigorous standards of education, experience, and evaluation. In addition to passing the exam, diplomates must demonstrate their experience and continuing medical education in the field. To that end, the ABVLM has also established educational standards for teaching and training programs in phlebology.

The ABVLM and the establishment of a Board Certification Exam brings recognition to both the field of phlebology and those providers in the field who have the knowledge, skills, and experience to provide quality care to phlebology patients. While many practice in the field of phlebology in Maine, there are just six Board certified phlebologists in the state who meet this high standard.

In addition to being a Board certified vein specialist, Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen is also the only doctor in Maine to be named a Fellow by the American College of Phlebology.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Asbjornsen, please contact us at Vein Healthcare Center. We look forward to meeting you!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

What is phlebology?

Veins are not a new invention. But phlebology – the study and treatment of veins and venous disease – is a relatively recent field of medicine. Once a sideline of vascular surgeons (whose focus was and is mainly arteries), phlebology is a burgeoning discipline that continues to add skilled specialists to its ranks.

Dr. Raymond Tournay first coined the term phlebology in 1947: “phlebo” meaning “vein,” and “ology,” meaning any science or branch of knowledge. Tournay and his colleagues founded the French Society of Phlebology (SFP), also in 1947, and he was its General Secretary for many years.

The American College of Phlebology (ACP) was founded in 1985 by Dr. Anton Butie, though its original name was the North American Society of Phlebology. Its purpose was to bring together physicians and surgeons from diverse specialties who shared an interest in venous disease. The Society started with just fourteen members. Today, the ACP has over 2,000 physicians and allied health professional members, including physician assistantsadvanced practice nurses, and ultrasound specialists and technologists.  

In 2005, phlebology was approved for inclusion in the list of self-designated medical specialties sanctioned by the American Medical Association (AMA). The decision by the AMA meant that physicians who diagnose and treat venous disorders, including varicose veins, could select phlebology as their primary or secondary area of practice.

Dr. Helane Fronek, editor of The Fundamentals of Phlebology: Venous Disease for Clinicians and a pioneer in the field, called the recognition “tremendous.” 

In 2007, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) followed the AMA’s lead and officially recognized phlebology as a distinct practice discipline.

Venous disease is extraordinarily common, but historically it has been poorly understood in the medical community. However, as the awareness of vein disorders and modern treatments has grown— among healthcare professionals and the general public— history is quickly changing.

To see how phlebology can improve your health and quality of life, contact us at Vein Healthcare Center. We're happy to answer any of your vein questions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

In the swim: one patient's perspective

For some active folks in New England, summer means swimming. For Nathan, age 44, swimming isn't just a hobby, it's his passion. 

A swimmer since his youth, Nathan began to develop varicose veins in both legs in his twenties. The blue, raised veins in his left leg were especially severe. He asked several doctors and physical therapists about it over the years, showing them how the bulging veins were considerably warmer than the rest of his leg. They all told him that there was nothing he could do about it, sometimes suggesting aspirin or compression sleeves to manage the discomfort.

It wasn’t until Nathan visited Dr. Asbjornsen, a Board certified phlebologist, that he realized that his symptoms—the cramping, fatigue, and varicose veins—were related to circulation and venous disease. After a physical exam, diagnostic ultrasound evaluation, and a full review of his medical history, Nathan learned that he was predisposed to varicose veins and that if he didn’t treat them, his condition would continue to get worse.

He decided to have the endovenouslaser ablation (EVLA) procedure done on his left leg, and then about eight months later, he had the procedure on his right leg. Recovery from both treatments was relatively quick, and the results were obvious. The cramping and pain went away, and his shoe size went down half a size because there was no more swelling.

Nathan’s quality of life improved, and so has his swimming: “I have new legs as far as I’m concerned. I have more endurance, and I can push myself much harder. I have more cardio, which is surprising to me. I can go further, faster, because the blood is returning and able to take oxygen to the places I need it. I was not aware of how much better I could feel—or that I could be a faster swimmer.”

Nathan had no idea what he was in for when he got his varicose veins treated. While he did expect to feel some relief from the leg pain and cramping he had experienced for years, he did not expect to become a better athlete.

Are you looking for relief from leg pain, varicose veins, or other venous issues? Contact the Vein Healthcare Center to make an appointment for a thorough exam. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Vein tips for hot days

Heat dilates veins. That means that varicose veins (or "leaky" veins) and other symptoms can worsen in warmer weather. 

Here are some quick tips for vein relief:
  • Stay as cool as possible. 
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
  • Take a walk. If the temperature outside is too hot, try a stroll through the mall or another climate-controlled building.
  • Go for a swim. Like walking, swimming pumps the calf muscles and improves circulation. Plus, a swim can cool you off!
  • Elevate the legs whenever possible.
  • Schedule an evaluation with a Board certified phlebologist.
Click here for additional ways to ease symptoms of vein disease. Click here to schedule an appointment for a complete evaluation of your vein health so you can treat the problem at its source.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Be aware of DVT and travel safely this summer

Summer may be BBQ season, but it’s also the time when people travel long distances in planes, trains, and automobiles. For us in vein healthcare, that means increased risks of Deep Vein Thombosis, or DVT.

The deep vein system carries about 80% of blood from the feet back up to the heart. Deep veins are located under the muscle and connective tissue layers in the legs. A blood clot in a deep vein can be dangerous because the high pressure in the system could cause the clot to break free from the vein wall and enter the blood stream. The DVT could then travel up through the legs into another part of the body such as the lungs, where it would become a pulmonary embolism (PE).

DVT or PE symptoms are often misinterpreted as something less serious. A blood clot in the leg may feel like a “charley horse,” shin splints, or a twisted ankle. Symptoms from PE are often attributed to a pulled muscle in the chest, costochondritis (inflammation of the joint between ribs and breast bone), asthma, or a “touch of pneumonia.”

So what are some of the signs to look for? For DVT, the leg may be warm to the touch; swelling in the leg (can also occur in the arm); leg (or arm) pain or tenderness; reddish or bluish skin discoloration.

For PE, be aware of a sudden shortness of breath; sharp, stabbing chest pain (may get worse with deep breath); rapid heart rate or breathing; feeling lightheaded or fainting; unexplained coughing, sometimes with bloody mucus.

In half of DVT and PE cases, no symptoms present at all—but both conditions are medical emergencies. Any of these symptoms should be regarded as a DVT or PE until proven otherwise, especially if someone is in a risk category (including whether there is a history of blood clots in your family).

Awareness is key-- and so is prevention. When traveling long distances, stay well hydrated, stretch legs your legs and pump your feet periodically, avoid or moderate alcohol and caffeine, and consider wearing graduated compression stockings on your trip.

To find out more about DVT and other vein issues, contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center. We will evaluate your vein health — including spider veins, varicose veins, and leg ulcers.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Dealing with veins in the summer

Although the first day of summer is technically June 21, many New Englanders consider Memorial Day to be the unofficial start of the summer. 

’Tis the season for people to dust off their BBQ grills and motorcycles— and shorts, swimsuits, and sandals. This time of year brings joy to most, but for those dealing with vein issues, it can produce discomfort and anxiety.

If you suffer from symptoms of vein disease, shorts season can be a tough time. Here are a few @VHC blog posts that can help:

  • Don’t let varicose veins ruin your summer. Click here to read.
  • Vein treatments in the summer, Part 1. Click here to read.
  • Vein treatments in the summer, Part 2: Click here to read.

To find out more about how to treat vein issues, contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center. We will evaluate your vein health — including spider veins, varicose veins, and leg ulcers — and recommend the best treatment for your individual condition and health goals. Schedule your appointment today.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Celebrating women's health

The 19th annual National Women's Health Week kicks off on Mother's Day, May 13! Led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women’s Health, it's a chance for women to consider their own health and take steps toward being healthier.

At the Vein Healthcare Center, we encourage all women to pay attention to what their bodies are telling them, including their legs -- especially if venous disease seems to run in the family. 

To celebrate women's health, this week and every week, we'd like to offer you our eArticle called "Women and Vein Treatments." You can learn about the three potential high-risk times that women are vulnerable to venous disease, how pregnancy impacts veins, and what kind of vein treatments are available today.

With the right information, women have the ability to reduce their risk of developing venous disease or decrease its severity. If you'd like to find out more about your vein health and schedule an evaluation, don't hesitate to contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

It’s almost shorts season

"I just wanted to be able to look at my legs and not feel awful. For the first summer in 25 years, I wore shorts and did not feel embarrassed." - Shaye R. 

"I wore a skirt for the first time in decades." - Jane S.

"Even though I'm only 30, I gave up caring what my legs looked like, but now you can see the shape of my legs again!” - Lisa F.

For these former patients of the Vein Healthcare Center, their main goal was to make their legs feel better. But after vein treatment, they were delighted to find that their legs also look better.

As summer approaches -- shorts and skirts weather -- it can be emotionally difficult for those with visible vein disease to enjoy their time out and about. At the Vein Healthcare Center, our philosophy is that patients who want to treat their problematic veins aren't being vain, they want to improve their health and quality of life. Being comfortable with their legs in public is part of that quality of life.

To hear more about patient experiences at the Vein Healthcare Center before and after venous treatment, check out Perspectives, a resource you can download and share.

Education is an important first step toward better vein health. The next step is to receive a complete evaluation. To schedule a new patient visit, call us at (207) 221-7799 or request an appointment online

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Good post-EVLA care can prevent complications

Endovenous laser ablation, or EVLA, is a minimally invasive treatment used to address specific large varicose veins in the legs. It is considered the gold standard in treatment of venous symptoms, and has largely replaced previous, more invasive standards of care, such as vein stripping. 

EVLA has opened the door for many patients with venous disorders to eliminate symptoms and improve their appearance with minimal time investment and minimal pain, but there are some things to be aware of after EVLA treatment.

As the leg heals, there may be bruising and swelling of the treated area, however, both are self-limited and usually resolve within the first two weeks after the EVLA procedure. 

Phlebitis is another common adverse complication -- one that commonly occurs with any IV stick, or even spontaneously from varicose veins. It is more common with EVLA because with this procedure, we are intentionally "irritating" the vein. The national incidence for resulting phlebitis is recorded at ~30%, however, at my office, we instruct patients who experience any post-procedure pain to use elevation, heat and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, essentially treating pain prophylactically (as a preventative measure). Thus, we tend to have a much lower incidence of post-procedure phlebitis at VHC.

We also guide our patients in their post-EVLA care so that they can experience effective healing and a quick recovery.

If you'd like to learn more about EVLA and other vein treatments, contact us. We're happy to answer your questions or schedule an evaluation of your vein health.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Listen to your legs

Sometimes venous disease is very obvious. Bulging, twisty veins that wrap around your legs is one manifestation. Purple spidery veins on the backs of your thighs may be another. But there are other, more subtle clues that your veins may not be working as well as they should.

Do your legs sometimes feel achy or throbbing? Do you have leg cramps in the middle of the night? Are your legs exhausted by the end of the day?

These may be signs of vein disease, and it's best not to ignore them for a couple of reasons. For one thing, your body is trying to tell you something is wrong. Waiting for the issues to go away on their own may actually make them worse as time goes on. If you find out what the problem is, you can take steps to fix it!

Sue, age 63, from North Yarmouth, Maine is one of our patients at the Vein Healthcare Center. Here's what Sue had to say about her own experience:

“I work at a daycare and when I came home at the end of the day, my legs were like cement. I could not move them. It was affecting me tremendously but because it didn’t hurt, I had no idea my veins were the problem. I had EVLA done in both legs, and they felt much lighter right away.
You can read more patient experiences like Sue's by clicking here. If you are having issues with your legs that you can't quite explain, take a look at this list of questions, and see if you can relate. Finally, contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center to make an appointment for an evaluation of your venous system. There may be a way to fix the problem.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Picking the right shoes

In the last issue of Vein Health News, we talk about ways to treat (and prevent) sore feet and legs for people who stand for long periods of time.

Chris Stanley, pedorthist and director of training at Lamey Wellehan Shoes, was one of the experts who gave us some advice on caring for achy feet.

According to Chris, the number one statement that they hear from their clients is: “I'm on my feet all day, and I need a comfortable shoe.”

Here are a few tips: 

  • When it comes to foot fatigue and comfort, the best treatment is an evaluation of what the person is currently wearing for shoes. About 80% of Americans are wearing shoes that don't fit correctly (often they are too small) and that can cause discomfort, especially toward the end of the day when the feet end up changing in shape and volume.
  • When looking at new shoes, many people want to have soft, spongy cushions under their feet, but in most cases, that can be detrimental. Having support characteristics in a shoe will actually reduce foot fatigue and increase comfort.
  • When shopping for work shoes, shop at a shoe store that measures feet and offers a variety of brands and styles. If the salesperson doesn't offer to measure your feet and doesn't bother to review how your shoes fit, then go to a different store. The proper shoe, matched with the proper size, often can solve many comfort-related issues.
  • Take time to stretch. Calf stretches will help to pump blood up out of the foot and generally improve blood circulation. Rolling your foot over a tennis ball or a foot massager will help the intrinsic foot muscles.

Tired, aching legs may also be a symptom of vein disease, a condition that is highly treatable. Click here to see if you have any of the common signs of vein disease. And remember, legs aren’t supposed to hurt, even at the end of a long workday!

If you have any questions, you’re always welcome to contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love your feet

If you take care of your feet, they’ll take care of you! In our latest issue of Vein Health News, we look at ways to treat sore feet and legs for people who work on their feet for long periods of time.

We spoke to Ginger LeClair, a nail technician at Coco Cheveux Salon in South Portland, Maine. Nurses, doctors, and pharmacists – men and women – make up about 20% of her clientele.

Here are a few of Ms. LeClair’s expert tips for keeping your feet feeling good:
  • The most common foot problem I see is general foot fatigue from standing for hours on end.
  • Rough, dry heels are another common issue. If left untreated, the dryness can eventually lead to painful cracks (fissures), which is harder to remedy. Once they start, they usually just get worse.
  • Use a pumice block when you shower to clean away any dead or rough skin on the heels.
  • Apply a foot cream at night, so it absorbs while you're at rest.
If you are having foot or leg discomfort, pain, or extreme fatigue at the end of the day, schedule an evaluation at the Vein Healthcare Center to find out if it's venous (vein) related. There are modern treatments that are minimally invasive so you can get back to work!