Let’s talk spider veins and varicose veins

November 30 – The appearance of the legs as we age can get a bit bothersome with the purple and blue veins appearing along the skin.

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

Varicose veins and spider veins are the topic for today and there are procedures to help with those issues.

Radio frequency ablation (RFA) is where a catheter is inserted and heat is used to close down a non-working vein.

Sommer said, “There is another procedure with a medication called Varithena, which is also used to combat those nasty varicose veins. It is a foam that’s injected in the vein that shuts it down. The procedure is shorter, minimally invasive and you get the same results.”

Both RFA and Varithena have similar procedures. The leg is prepped, a needle is inserted and either heat or foam will close the vein. The foam is absorbed by the body.

Sommer said, “When we use the Varithena and RFA, it’s for the chronic venous insufficiency. It’s when the little valves in your legs no longer work causing the pain and swelling. In certain cases people get those leg wounds that won’t heal and that is because the vein is not working and the blood flow is not able to leave the area. It just kind of sits in that area, puts pressure and prevents the wound to heal.”

Treatment with RFA and Varithena is usually covered by insurance as a medical procedure.

Spider veins are more common and usually considered uncomplicated.

Sommer said, “Still can be a pesky problem. It’s like a cosmetic nuisance. People don’t like them. They don’t want to put their shorts on, especially women in the summertime.”

Sometimes when patients think they have bad veins, it’s actually just spider veins.

“It is fairly common,” Sommer said. “Usually after the age of 30. If you’re overweight or if stand on your feet all the time, there’s just a lot of additional pressure. Your legs carry all your weight and blood vessels, basically they rupture under the skin.”

Spider veins can sometimes cause pain, but the uncomplicated ones would be considered a cosmetic procedure that is usually not covered by insurance.

Sommer said, “However there is a treatment and the FDA did approve a treatment.”

The treatment is the same medicine as Varithena, just in a different form called Asclera.

Sommer said, “For Asclera it’s more of a solution and it’s injected into the smaller veins. It does make a difference. It takes the appearance of those little purple, blue lines in your legs away.”

These treatments can happen at Key West Surgical Group right in the office.

Sommer said, “There’s minimal downtime with the Asclera therapy. We’ll work you up depending on what your legs look like, just to make sure you don’t have any chronic insufficiency going on. If you don’t, but you still do have those spider veins and they are bothersome to you, we can take care of them.”

Varicose veins are a bit more complicated because they means a bigger vein in the leg is not working properly and require different treatment.

Anyone who has to stand or sit for long periods of time can have varicose veins.

Following the procedure, compression stockings may be required.

Sommer said, “I know they can be uncomfortable because they do, they compress the leg, but it is important that you wear them because it does help relieve the pressure off the remaining good veins and it helps heal faster. If you wear those compression stockings, you will get a better result. You should wear them for at least two weeks. Put them on in the morning, take them off at night. Get into a routine.”

There is no prep for vein procedures. You can eat and drink as usual in the morning and take your medication.

Sommer said, “We recommend you definitely stay hydrated, lots of water, and avoid caffeine. Sometimes caffeine can cause your veins to spasm because it is a stimulant. So we tell you try not to drink caffeine the morning of the procedure. You can have it right after.”

Key West Surgical Group does see a number of people with varicose veins.

Sommer said, “The treatment is less painful than it used to be, so don’t be afraid. It’s a lot less pain than it used to be with good results.”

For more information, click here: https://www.keywestsurgicalgroup.com/