Vascular Health: It's In Your Blood
August 2021 Issue - Paisley Prescriptions
Vascular Health: It's In Your Blood
If anything should go with the flow, it’s your blood. You might not think about it very often, but the blood flowing through your veins plays a vital role in your overall health. From minor cosmetic issues to life-threatening conditions, vascular health should not be neglected. We asked local medical specialists how to identify and treat issues affecting the vascular system.
by Harold L. Kent, MD
My mother has varicose veins. Is there anything I can do now to avoid getting them?
Your chances of having varicose veins are increased if you have a close family member with the condition. Almost 50% of people over the age of 50 have varicose veins. Risk factors for developing varicose veins include obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, working in a job that requires prolonged periods of standing or sitting, pregnancy, female sex, height and a history of previous leg injury or deep venous blood clots. To avoid getting varicose veins, lose weight if you’re obese, don’t smoke, wear compression stockings, increase your activity, avoid leg injuries, avoid unnecessary female hormone administration and elevate your feet for 30 minutes at a time four times a day. Risk factors you can’t change are your parents, your sex, your height and your age. Change your lifestyle appropriately, and your risk of developing varicose veins will be minimized.
What’s new in varicose vein treatment?
Originally, treatment for varicose veins involved surgical removal (vein stripping) of the greater saphenous vein, which runs from the ankle to the groin. Usually done under general anesthesia, patients could end up with a numb heel due to nerve injury. Modern vein therapy is minimally invasive and can be done in an office setting under local anesthesia. Current treatments for closing the upper portion of the saphenous vein include radio-frequency ablation and endovenous laser therapy. Injury to the interior of the vein causes it to close. Ultrasound is often used to help guide these procedures. For varicose veins that are larger than about 3-mm, microphlebectomy (removal of the vein through a small incision) under local anesthesia can be done. For veins less than 3-mm in diameter, sclerotherapy can be used. Sclerotherapy is also used on spider veins and doesn’t require anesthesia; the substance injected into the vein irritates the vein lining causing the vein to close and eventually reabsorb.
Dr. Harold L. Kent, specializing in Bariatric and General Surgery, is owner of Georgia Coast Surgical Med Spa and More; 3226-F Hampton Avenue, Brunswick, Georgia, 912-264-9724. Website: georgiacoastsurgical.com, Facebook: Georgia Coast Surgical & Med Spa
By Diane G. Bowen, MD
I’ve noticed what look like spider veins on my legs. Should I be concerned? Is there anything I can do to prevent them? Can anything be done to remove or hide them?
Spider veins occur when blood pools in veins close to the surface of the skin. There are various potential causes of spider veins such as heredity, obesity, trauma and fluctuations in hormone levels. Spider veins do tend to increase with age and are common in people over 30 and in pregnant women.
Some ways to prevent spider veins from occurring include:
> Not standing for long periods of time.
> Wearing compression stockings.
> Don’t cross your legs when sitting.
> Elevate legs when possible.
> Exercise regularly to improve leg strength, circulation and vein strength,
as well as helping to control weight gain.
Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure that eliminates varicose and spider veins. This procedure involves the injection of a solution directly into the vein using a very small needle. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to collapse and stick together eliminating the varicose or spider vein. While this procedure sounds like it might be painful, it is often described as feeling like an ant bite. Keep in mind that additional treatments may be needed. Wearing compression stockings after your treatment will help improve the result.
Diane G. Bowen, MD performs sclerotherapy and is the owner of Centered on Wellness and Golden Isles Center for Plastic Surgery, PC; 1015 Arthur J. Moore Drive on St. Simons Island. Website: www.drdianebowen.com or call 912-638-0034 or 912-634-1993
By P. Kevin Beach, M.D.
I sit all day at my desk. By day’s end, my feet and legs are swollen. Should I be worried?
Swelling in the feet and legs after sitting for prolonged periods of time is common. This is referred to as dependent edema. The symptoms are mild, achy, ‘been on my feet all day’ feeling. This is not serious. However, some patients will have pronounced discomfort and swelling that is more pathologic in nature due to venous stasis, which is essentially pathologic edema. For those patients, compression stockings or a medical assessment for possible interventions to lessen the swelling may be beneficial.
What is a DVT and how dangerous is it?
Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot within a deep vein in an extremity, such as the legs. The main concern with DVT is that the clot may become dislodged and flow upstream to the lungs, which is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE can be life threatening, therefore DVT is treated very seriously. These patients must be on anticoagulants (blood thinners) which help stabilize the clot so that it will not become dislodged and move to the lungs.
Blood Clots seem so scary. How do I know if I have one?
If you have pain and swelling in your leg that doesn't improve with elevation, seek medical attention immediately.
P. Kevin Beach, M.D. is a graduate of Medical University of South Carolina. He did his internship and residency at University of Louisville Hospital. His fellowship was completed at University and Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. He is a board-certified general and vascular surgeon at Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-General & Vascular Surgery, 2500 Starling Street, Suite 201 in Brunswick.