Difference Between Venous Disorders
- Larger than 2,5mm in diameter
- Usually have a dark-blue or purple
- Veins often protrude above the surface of the skin and can lead to pain, burning and spasms
- Size about 2mm in diameter
- Color varies from green-blue or purple
- Often causes burning and itching
- Measuring about 1-1, 5mm.
- Have a pink, red or purple color
- Sometimes accompanied by pain or discomfort in the affected area
What are Varicose Veins?
Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from venous disease. Veins are responsible for returning blood to the heart. The superficial venous system includes the veins closer to the skin surface that lies above the level of the muscles. Whereas, the deep venous system includes the veins that lie within the muscles. Varicose veins are more common in the legs and lower part of the body because they must function against the forces of gravity. The deep veins are well-protected by the muscles, and they are the primary veins responsible for returning blood back to the heart. The superficial veins are poorly protected and are prone to dilation of the vein walls and valve failure.
Simply put, varicose veins are abnormal veins of the superficial venous system that are not functioning properly and not returning blood to the heart. This failure is typically a result of broken one-way valves, weakened vein walls or a combination of both. Whenever the heart is above the level of the legs, varicose veins will have a backward flow that siphons or steals blood from the deep veins. When the good veins are unable to compensate for the incompetent veins, venous insufficiency results and can cause the various symptoms or complications listed above. Comprehensive vein treatment will improve venous circulation, relieve symptoms, and normal veins are no longer hindered.
What causes Varicose Veins?
Venous ulcers account for up to 90% of leg ulcers. Ulcers are non-healing or poorly-healing open skin wounds. The most common site of venous ulcers is on inner part of the leg just above the ankle. They may also occur on the shin and other areas surrounding the ankle. They are typically not seen on the foot or toes, which are common sites for arterial insufficiency ulcers and diabetic ulcers. Venous ulcers are extremely variable: they can be small or large, shallow or deep, dry and crusty or oozing with drainage, and painless or painful. Venous ulcers are often seen in conjunction with chronic leg swelling and preceded by venous insufficiency skin changes such as:
Studies have shown that the tendency to develop varicose veins runs in families. Consequently, genetic factors are considered to be the primary cause of venous issues due to the predisposition of one-way valves to fail, vein walls to be weakened, or a combination of both. The presence of varicose veins in siblings, parents or grandparents will indicate that you are at greater risk.
The prevalence of varicose veins is higher in women than in men. One reason for the disparity is the hormonal influence of estrogen and progesterone. However, it is estimated that 40% of males have venous disease and males are at higher risk of skin changes related to venous insufficiency.
Many women will first notice varicose and spider veins during pregnancy. A common area is in the groin. Increased circulating blood volume, hormonal influence, and mechanical compression of the abdomen are felt to be the contributing factors to the development or worsening of varicose veins during pregnancy. However, most varicose veins will be less noticeable after delivery, but will become noticeable again with time due to irreparable damage to the veins.
With increasing age, our bodies lose elasticity in the vein walls, resulting in weakened vein walls, vein dilatation and damage to the venous valves. As a result, the prevalence of varicose increases with age in both men and women.
Gravity plays an important role in the development of varicose veins. Occupations, activities, and lifestyles that involve sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause an increase in blood pressure and volume in the veins and contribute to the development or worsening of varicose veins. Some common occupations of patients that develop varicose veins include:
- Medical professionals
- Bank tellers
- Restaurant and Retail professionals such as bartenders and cashiers
- Hair stylists
- Factory Workers – Prolonged standing or sitting
Significantly increased weight, particularly in the abdomen, impedes the venous circulation in the legs. The body must work harder to return blood to the heart, resulting in an increase in blood pressure and volume in the veins.
Congenital and Trauma
Klippel-Trénaunay Syndrome, a congenital disease, and physical trauma are less common causes of varicose veins.
At Tennessee Vein Center in Knoxville, before initiating any vein treatment of the legs, we perform a comprehensive or screening duplex venous ultrasound, as indicated by your history and exam. Duplex venous ultrasound (mapping) can identify if underlying veins are not functioning normally and the severity of the problem. After the mapping, each patient receives a comprehensive treatment plan. Depending on the locations and size of the problem veins, many patients require endovenous thermal ablation treatment of underlying abnormal veins followed by a series of ultrasound-guided or visual sclerotherapy to eradicate the bad veins. The outside of the leg does not have to look terrible for the veins below the surface to be bad. The maps below show the progression of treatment as well as a before treatment and after treatment picture of the leg with venous disease.
Endovenous Thermal Energy Treatment
Endovenous Thermal Energy Treatment, also known as EVTA or endovenous thermal ablation, is a minimally invasive varicose vein treatment that relies on laser or radiofrequency energy to be delivered through fine optical fibers. Those fibers are inserted into the skin and the energy is released, effectively killing the targeted vein. It is typically performed at our Alcoa, TN office under only local anesthesia and provides rapid, almost immediate, results to the patient. The entire process takes approximately an hour and allows you to return to your usual routines.
At Tennessee Vein Center, we are happy to provide Cutera’s Excel V surface laser system. This machine utilizes Nd-YAG technology, a laser system that can provide two different wavelengths to treat a variety of cosmetic problems. Along with spider veins, this treatment can also address rosacea, port wine stains, aging spots, brown spots, and even a condition known as Poikiloderma. We are happy to say that anyone near Alcoa, Knoxville or Blount County will find this treatment at our office very convenient, effective and fast.
Unlike EVTA or surface laser technology, sclerotherapy is an injectable treatment that uses a medication called a sclerosant. When injected into the vein, the substance will cause a vein to shut down and be naturally resorbed by the body. The blood is rerouted to healthier veins, and this treatment does not come with any serious side effects. Because of how effective and practical it is, sclerotherapy is considered the gold standard when it comes to treatment for leg veins.
Like it sounds, this treatment is the exact same as sclerotherapy except for the fact that your physician or advanced practice provider will use an ultrasound imaging machine to guide them through the injection process. This provides much more insight into the injection depth as well as the anatomy of the vein and clarity of what is being dealt with.
Another subset of the main treatment, visual sclerotherapy is a treatment where the medication is injected entirely by hand. It is only performed in cases where the vein is highly visible against the skin, as is the case with spider veins. It is preferred in some cases because it does not require the usage of the ultrasound machine.
Varithena is a form of ultrasound-guided compressive sclerotherapy that uses a propriety micro-foamed sclerosant. It was approved by the FDA in 2013 for the treatment of varicose veins and has since become widely used due to its great results. The end result is the same as sclerotherapy: the problematic vein dies and blood is then rerouted to healthier veins.
Veinwave is a revolutionary technique that uses special microwave technology to increase the temperature of blood vessels until the vein walls collapse. This treatment is used for small red or pink spider veins, mainly on the face. Tennessee Vein Center is the first medical provider in the area to provide this new and cutting-edge treatment to patients near us. The results are instant, and you can go back to your normal routine right away.
Real Patient Stories
Muffin’s Journey Through Varicose Veins
Muffin is a breast cancer survivor. As such, she carries a lot of traumatic memories from her fight against the disease. To be specific, that fight included a partial mastectomy, a total of 46 radiation treatments, 12 rounds of chemo and 400 chemo pills. There was plenty to be nervous about when Muffin considered stepping back into a medical office for vein treatment.
But much to her surprise, she found great comfort in Tennessee Vein Center and Dr. Campbell, who makes it a priority to make his patients feel comfortable and at ease. Don’t take our word for it, though, you can listen to Muffin’s own words:
“They have absolutely watched over me so well,” Muffin said. “You know you are going to be taken care of to the best of their ability. I can’t describe in words how it makes me feel. I will continue to go to them as long as I am walking.”
You can experience Muffin’s full story by clicking here.
Beverly’s Struggle With Ulcers
Beverly is a big fan of her life in the Great Smoky Mountains. She looks through her kitchen window almost every day to see miles of uninterrupted forest lines — a welcome change from her life in the city. But as she grew older, Beverly developed an ulcer on her leg that would quickly grow from the size of a quarter to the size of a fist.
She tried some vein surgeries, but like many patients, the ulcer eventually returned. This is when she came to see Dr. Campbell at Tennessee Vein Center. As she says herself, she couldn’t have been happier with the treatment she received.
“The first time that I went to see Dr. Campbell, I was just happy that I could go,” Beverly says. “The atmosphere in his office is very relaxing. Everyone there is very pleasant. It makes you feel at ease.”
You can experience Beverly’s full story by clicking here.
Ready to Learn More?
If you want to get more information about how Dr. Campbell and Tennessee Vein Center can help you with your venous concern, give our office a call at (865) 233-5858. You can also fill out our contact form below to have a member of our staff reach out to you at a more convenient time.
We know these diseases can be frustrating and often make you feel hopeless and demotivated. But you should know our staff is dedicated to helping you get your life back, no matter how much time we have to invest in your health to get you there.