In earlier medical history, there weren’t a whole lot of benefits when it came to treating varicose veins. In fact, they called it “vein stripping” and it was extremely invasive, wasn’t very effective, and yet required massive amounts of time in recovery. Imagine that – no real advantages, being out of work for an extended period, and a lack of permanence in the procedure. That would be awful. There are myriad reasons why vein stripping isn’t used any longer.
Today’s technology allows you to recover far quicker, is nearly painless, and has a much higher success rate with keeping varicose veins away for good. Procedures like Venaseal, Closurefast, and Varithena allow doctors to treat varicose veins and similar ailments with speed, agility, and accuracy never seen in prior times.
The improvement of treatments like these offers you as a patient the perfect time to do something about your varicose veins today. Without much discomfort, downtime, or ineffective results, your vein surgery can be a quick success and have you back on your feet in no time! The benefits gained from treating your veins and vascular issues are nearly countless.
Many people suffer aching, heavy-feeling legs due to their varicose veins. If you have them treated, that pain can be reduced if not outright eliminated. An ultrasound of the suspect areas will be required to map out and diagnose all the veins. This allows your doctor to get rid of the veins directly at the source and not just the visible veins, thus addressing possible underlying issues.
Quite often, swelling due to varicose veins can hinder normal movement that keeps people from being active. They literally can cause people who would be active to lose mobility because of their veins. Once treated, your veins will give you back the movement that’s been missing from your life. How great would it be to get your previous, active life back?
When you have your veins treated, the purple, red, or other-colored veins disappear. You will now be able to wear whatever you want without self-esteem issues due to your veins. Your self-confidence will be greater than it ever has, since you’re now older, wiser, and looking younger than ever. There will be no glances or looks at your varicose veins because they will not exist.
Oftentimes, poor sleep is the product of restless leg syndrome, a sleeping disorder. Restless leg can be caused by the discomfort from varicose veins. Without painful, achy varicose veins there is a chance that restless legs can be quelled. The sooner you get your veins treated, the sooner you could be sleeping soundly through the night.
The Cost Of Treatment
On top of the fear of vein stripping of old, many patients avoid varicose vein procedures because of the cost. These days, the costs are much lower and many insurance companies cover the cost, as they deem it a medically necessary treatment.
If you currently suffer from pain, insomnia, or swelling as a result of your varicose veins call us. There’s a possibility that your health insurance will cover your procedure. We’ll help estimate what your costs might be for varicose vein treatments.
CHARLOTTE – A large segment of the population with aching, throbbing and tired legs may have no idea they have a common vein condition, known as venous reflux. People who have bulging varicose veins are usually aware that there may be a problem, but for people without visible veins at the skin surface, it is difficult to recognize that underlying veins problems could be the culprit.
Circulatory problems can present in a variety of ways. The leg veins are a network of pipes that carry blood back to the heart. Within the leg veins small flaps of tissue act as one-way valves, allowing blood to flow in the right direction and preventing blood from flowing in the wrong direction. When these valves in the leg veins are not working properly it can create a back-pressure effect, resulting in a variety of leg symptoms. Common symptoms include painful varicose veins, aching/tired legs, and ankle swelling. Over time some people will get staining and discoloration of the skin in their lower legs, and in advanced cases wounds can develop, typically in the ankle area.
“If someone is living with leg symptoms that are anything more than mild or intermittent, they may be living with those symptoms needlessly,” says Dr. Peter Ford, of Vascular Solutions.
Dr. Ford has owned and operated Vascular Solutions, a vein practice located at the Arboretum in south Charlotte (corner of Providence Road & N.C. 51), since 2014.
Dr. Ford isn’t just a board-certified vascular surgeon, but he’s also an expert in the field, having been published in surgical journals and textbooks. He served as an assistant professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s surgery department and continues to train physicians across the region on advanced procedures.
The most common condition Dr. Ford treats is venous reflux, which is caused by dysfunctional valves in the leg veins, and results in blood backing up within the affected veins. He routinely redirects blood to working veins in one of three ways.
Radiofrequency ablation, also known as Closurefast procedure, involves sealing off the bad veins using a catheter that is temporarily inserted into veins. The procedure is performed in the office, involves a small amount of local anesthetic and typically takes 20-30 minutes per vein. Dr. Ford offers alternatives to cauterizing veins, including the use of a polymer glue (VenaSeal) and microfoam (Varithena) to seal them.
Another group of potential patients may be aware they have issues with their veins but may be reluctant to get the veins treated.
“People are sometimes concerned it’s going to be painful when in fact there are now multiple painless non-invasive methods for fixing the veins that were not previously available,” Dr. Ford said.
He commonly gets questions from patients: How serious is this? Do I need to have something done? When does it need to be done?
Dr. Ford believes that anyone who is experiencing leg symptoms, such as aching, throbbing, early leg fatigue, leg cramping, leg swelling, and anyone who has symptomatic bulging varicose veins are appropriate candidates for getting their leg veins evaluated.
“We typically invite patients with leg symptoms to attend a new-patient consultation”, says Dr. Ford. The new patient consultation takes about 90 minutes. During the new patient visit, a detailed ultrasound of the leg veins is performed, which allows identification of vein problems, and provides a “road-map” of the vein anatomy. The provider then reviews the findings including the pros and cons of any procedural options. In addition, they review any requirements that might be required to obtain insurance coverage. Vein procedures are typically covered by insurance, provided a patient has symptoms and certain findings on the vein ultrasound. By combining the diagnostic ultrasound and the new patient consultation in one visit, patients leave with a diagnosis and treatment plan.
For people “on the fence” about whether they would benefit from vein treatment Vascular Solutions also offers free “vein screening” visits. These brief (10-minute) screening visits allow the doctor to preliminarily examine your legs, review symptoms and determine whether additional workup/evaluation is appropriate. During vein screening visits a limited ultrasound is often used to get a “sneak-peek” at the great saphenous vein, which is one of the most commonly affected veins in the legs. If appropriate, patients are invited back for a new patient consultation.
“There are millions of people who have vein problems,” Dr. Ford said. “With leg vein problems being so prevalent in society – often under-diagnosed and under-treated – there’s a lot of opportunities for me to help people.”
Reminders of home
A walk through Vascular Solutions offers subtle hints of Dr. Peter Ford’s roots in Melbourne, Australia. There’s photography of kangaroos and koalas framed on the office walls.
Katie Ford the practice manager, incorporated the aboriginal symbol for “journey” into the company’s logo to reflect her husband’s path toward becoming a vascular surgeon.
The dots reflect the path of his medical training, starting at Monash University School of Medicine, his residency at the State University of New York-Buffalo, and his fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill and his practice in Charlotte.
It’s the nearing the end of the year and there’s still plenty of planning to do to ensure your family is financially stable, happy, and healthy. Vein health is just as important as any other aspect, oftentimes more so, so don’t take it for granted and use your deductible! It’s estimated that as much as 30% of people who pay for health insurance don’t realize they’ve met they’re deductible and that potential paid money goes to waste. This is similar to winning the lotto but not cashing in. Use your benefits to the fullest extent!
Know Your Plan Details
By now you are probably well aware of how your health insurance plan works. You can figure out what it covers, how much you’ll pay out of pocket, and what your deductible is. If you can’t find out, call the number on your insurance card and they’ll tell you all you need to know! The old saying, “knowing is half the battle” is fitting here. As far as health plan coverage, this is vastly understated. Having a working knowledge of your insurance plan can be akin to money in the bank. As the year progresses, it can definitely benefit you. The ultimate goal is to use all of your benefits and then some. If you don’t use them, you will lose them.
Make Appointments Now
Between the free vein screenings and the consultations (both cosmetic and comprehensive), if you act now, you should have no problem scheduling your appointments and procedures. At this point, the longer you wait, the slimmer your chances of having all of your vein work done before the end of the year. If your plan offers HSA, you may be able to use that to pay out-of-pocket expenses and even medical expenses, tax-free. Again, this all depends on your plan and what your limits are.
The majority of health and wellness benefit programs carry a deductible that is set at a specific amount. This is the amount you must pay before your full coverage of insurance kicks in. Your plan will inform you how exactly that works and what it takes to reach it. Most plans vary, so go in knowing how your deductible works so that you can best exploit it. Be sure that you make sure that Vascular Solutions accepts your plan. Specific medical insurance may apply your deductible to all procedures at our office, while some might only apply your deductible to necessary treatments, check with your insurance beforehand.
Use Your Benefits Before the Year Is Over
As someone who knows how much it costs to ensure you and your family, you should know what you’re missing if you don’t use it to the fullest. The fall and winter are optimal times for patients to have elective and medically necessary procedures carried out, as they can prove to be quite costly if you wait until after the new year. Take advantage of every benefit your health coverage allows!
To sign up for a free vein screening, click here.
To request a cosmetic consultation, click here.
To request a comprehensive evaluation, click here.
Or, call us at 704-544-7535
Keeping your veins healthy is an important part of maintaining a well-functioning circulatory system. Thankfully, good vein health is fairly easy to achieve. Below are 5 things you can do to make sure your veins are being properly cared for.
1. Stay Active
Elevating your heart rate through aerobic activity every day is a vital part of maintaining vein and overall body health. Every adult should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, with 45 minutes being optimal. Moderate aerobic activities include:
- Brisk walking
- Mowing the lawn
- Light swimming or water aerobics
- A casual game of tennis
- Gentle biking
If you’re capable of doing vigorous aerobic activity, 75 minutes per week is recommended. Such activities include:
- Swimming laps
- Weightlifting with limited rest periods
- Rock climbing
- Basketball and other high-intensity sports
It’s also important that we reduce the amount of time spent sitting per day. The consensus within the scientific community is that we should be spending 4 hours of our day standing. Working in an office environment can sometimes make these tricky to achieve, but there are many clever ways to sneak in some standing time while at the office.
2. Eat A Good Diet
Along with staying active, sticking to a well-balanced diet is crucial for keeping your body healthy. But for maintaining vein health specifically, you’ll want to make sure your eating foods that contain a powerful phytochemical called bioflavonoids. These chemicals are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can be found in many colorful fruits and vegetables. Foods that contain high amounts of bioflavonoids include:
- Hot peppers
- Red onion
- Citrus fruits
Of course, you should also be keeping track of the number of calories you eat per day. Use a calorie calculator to learn how many calories you should be taking in.
3. Stay Hydrated
When your body is properly hydrated, its blood is thinner and flows more easily through the veins. Most people should be drinking roughly 2 liters of water per day. But if you’re curious about getting a more exact number, take your body weight and multiply it by 0.67. This will give you the number of ounces you should be ingesting every day. But also be sure to add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise you do that day, as it will replace the water you expelled while sweating.
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking tobacco deoxygenates and thickens the blood, forcing your circulatory system to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Inhaling nicotine also causes your veins to harden and narrow, making it more difficult for them to function properly. So if you’re a smoker, make today the day you quit.
5. Wear Compression Socks
If you’re someone who suffers from chronic venous insufficiency due to their genetics or has a condition such as heart disease or obesity, compression socks will assist with contracting the muscles around the veins to help move blood up towards the heart. Women who are pregnant or those with jobs requiring them to stand for long periods of time should also consider wearing compression socks.
Know When to Seek Treatment
If you experience regular fatigue as well as heaviness or swelling around the legs, it’s time to see a vascular physician. At Vascular Solutions, we offer several minimally invasive procedures for treating varicose veins and other vein-related diseases. To schedule an appointment with our board-certified vascular surgeon, head on over to our consultation page to see what option works best for you. You can also give us a call at 704-544-7535. We are located in Charlotte, NC.
Vein problems have plagued humans since the beginning of time. Fortunately our understanding of vein problems has seen dramatic improvement and technological advancements that have led to a dramatic increase in the number of treatment options available.
The first description of varicose veins dates back to 1550 BC, where varicose veins were described as “serpentine windings” in an ancient Egyptian scroll, now known as the Ebers Papyrus. During this era it was felt best to leave veins alone; “Thou shall not touch something like this”.
During the Greco-Roman era, Hippocrates of Kos, 460 BC – 370 BC, who many believe to be the father of modern medicine, described varicose veins, and counseled against performing vein surgery. The term “varicose” is actually a derivative of a Greek word meaning “grapelike”, and was used by Hippocrates to describe varicose veins
Roman physician Aulus Celsus, 25 BC – 45 AD, was one of the first to describe operating on varicose veins. A century later, Greek physician Aelius Galenas (Galen), 129 AD – 216 AD, described phlebectomy, a vein procedure that is still in use today!
“Vein stripping” was described in detail by an Arab surgeon Abu Al-Qasim Khalaf Ibn Al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi, 936 AD – 1013 AD, also known in the West as Abulcasis.
In the 19th Century venous sclerotherapy was pioneered by Frenchman Joseph Petrequin. Sclerotherapy refers to injecting a medicine into the vein that results in the destruction of the vein.
In 1890 German physician Friedrich Trendelenburg described tying off the great saphenous vein a few centimeters from its end, also known as great saphenous vein ligation. During 1896 an Australian surgeon, Jerry Moore, recommended tying off the great saphenous vein at a slightly higher level, where the vein connects with the deep vein.
Over the course of the 20th Century the concept of performing vein surgery, to deliberately eliminate blood flow in diseased veins was validated. The purpose of these procedures was to divert vein blood from unhealthy to healthy veins. Although early vein procedures were highly effective, the procedures were typically performed using general anesthesia. These procedures were commonly performed in hospital operating rooms, or ambulatory surgery centers.
MODERN DAY TREATMENTS:
Between 1999-2002 two different types of “thermal ablation” procedures hit the market. These procedures were revolutionary in advancing vein care in the United States, and around the world. Because these minimally-invasive alternatives don’t require general anesthesia, doctors can perform these procedures on an outpatient basis.
Thermal ablation procedures leverage the concept that if a dysfunctional vein is no longer open, then this simulates the same effect as surgically removing veins with disease. In both situations the blood flow in the diseased veins are eliminated, which in turn forces vein blood to flow through remaining, non-diseased veins.
The two major forms of thermal ablation vein procedures are radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and laser ablation (AKA endovenous laser ablation / EVLA). Radiofrequency ablation uses a catheter that has an active tip on its end. Thus allowing it to cauterize the target vein using radiofrequency energy. Laser ablation of works by using a catheter, which has an active tip on its end, to cauterize the target vein using laser light energy.
More Recent Treatments
Several “non-thermal” vein procedures are now available.
“Non-thermal” ablation procedures are a method that shuts down blood flow in superficial veins, without using heat energy. By avoiding heat, these procedurest eliminate the risk of any injury stemming from heat to surrounding tissues. They also reduce the amount of local anesthetic one may require to perform the procedure. Non-thermal procedures that have become FDA approved over the past few years include VenaSeal closure system, Varithena microfoam, and ClariVein.
The VenaSeal closure system uses an adhesive product to seal saphenous veins closed, without using thermal energy. VenaSeal adhesive is a cyanoacrylate polymer that comes inside a small jar, looking similar to translucent honey when outside the body. The doctor administers VenaSeal adhesive into the target vein by using a long catheter that connects to a dispensing gun. Conceptually, the delivery system is similar to a caulking gun that connects to a long delivery tube. When the polymer comes into contact with blood the VenaSeal product instantly “polymerizes”, occluding blood flow within the vein. VenaSeal has proven to be safe and effective, and has the FDA stamp of approval (2015). VenaSeal allows saphenous veins to close without risk of heat-induced nerve injury, and requires no bandages after the procedure. After VenaSeal procedures patients immediately return to work and full sporting activity.
Varithena microfoam is a product that is a mixture of liquid medicine – polidocanol – along with oxygen. The Varithena microfoam comes in a small canister (that looks like a can of shaving cream!). The treating physician withdraws an appropriate amount of the foam product into a syringe. This solution is directly administered into the target using a catheter.
ClariVein is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a combination of mechanical and chemical forces to occlude the target vein. This process uses a rapidly rotating wire to cause mechanical trauma to the wall of the vein. It also gets a supplement from simultaneous administration of medicine to help occlude the vein. ClariVein uses a very slim catheter that the doctor inserts through a pin-sized skin entrance point.
In addition to saphenous vein treatments, physicians employ several minimally invasive procedures they use to treat “perforator” or bridging veins. This may be the cause of ulcers (wounds) that can develop around the ankle.
Overall, the increasing range of technological advancements for treatment options allow doctors to be more helpful. Vein specialists are now able to diagnose and treat patients with a variety of vein problems. This yields higher degrees of accuracy, less risk of complication, and faster return to full activity.
Sclerotherapy is a treatment that is used to treat varicose and spider veins. Most of the time, it’s chosen as the treatment for smaller size varicose veins and spider veins.
How it Works
The procedure involves injection of a solution into the diseased vein, which causes the vein to seal and then slowly scar. The small amount of blood within the treated vein naturally reroutes to surrounding healthy veins. The treated vein slowly contracts, gets reabsorbed into the surrounding tissues and slowly fades. The healing process typically takes a few weeks, although there are times when it can take longer to realize final results. Sometimes, multiple sclerotherapy treatments are needed.
Sclerotherapy can be performed to help relieve symptoms of pain, tenderness, tingling and burning caused by varicose or spider veins. Sclerotherapy can also be used purely for cosmetic reasons – to improve the visible appearance of veins that are present at the skin surface. The ability of this procedure to improve low-grade symptoms and improve the cosmetic appearance of the leg allows “two birds to be killed with one stone”!
Methods of Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy can be performed using one of several different types of medicine, including hypertonic saline, Asclera (polidocanol), glycerin and STS (sodium tetradecyl sulphate). Dr. Ford primarily uses polidocanol (Asclera) as his preferred form of treatment, as this product is FDA approved, and he believes it to be the most effective and versatile product, with the fastest recovery time. To best determine how Asclera might work for you, fill out a contact form today and schedule your consultation.
Potential mild side effects of sclerotherapy include bruising, red bumps, small sores, skin that appears temporarily darkened, and additional tiny red blood vessels. Though they seem unsightly, these typically go away in two to six weeks.
Inflammation is a normal yet longer lasting side effect. Once the procedure is done, discomfort and even warmth around the site of the injection can occur. On extremely rare occasions, blood clots in the deep veins have been known to form.
There is also a slight chance that you may have an allergic reaction to polidocanol, however, this is very uncommon.
At your initial consultation you should anticipate the following;
- Review of any symptoms
- Review of your medical history
- Review of any current medications
- Review of any allergies
- Physical examination of the concerning area
The days leading up to your appointment, it’s good to avoid excessive lotion, alcohol consumption, or any vigorous activity.
What to Expect
While the positive effects of sclerotherapy are long-lasting, the procedure itself is fairly simple and can be done in under 30 minutes. These procedures are performed at the doctor’s premises and don’t require a different surgery center. Expect to lie on your back with legs elevated just a little bit. Once the area is cleaned with alcohol, the surgeon will use a very small needle to inject the solution into the affected vein or veins. Although not normally necessary topical local anesthetics medicines can be applied to the skin to make the procedure more comfortable.
Although the polidocanol (Asclera) solution is normally a liquid, there is a foam version of polidocanol called Varithena. Ask your doctor which one might be right for you. The foam is generally used for larger veins because it covers more surface volume than the liquid does.
It’s best to keep in mind that the number of injections a patient receives is heavily dependent on the size and number of veins that will receive treatment. No two patient’s experiences are the same, so you might need three sclerotherapy session where a friend may have only needed one.
You will be walking soon after your procedure, and this will be very important so that you can help prevent blood clots forming. Most patients return to normal day-to-day activities on the same day as their treatment. You should budget on avoiding strenuous exercise for one week after the procedure.
If you require multiple sclerotherapy sessions the optimal timing of repeat treatments is variable and is typically individualized. If you have multiple extensive spider veins (or small varicose veins) additional treatments can often be scheduled shortly after the initial treatment. If “re-treatment” of a localized area is required these re-treatments are typically spaced at least six weeks apart to allow time for healing between treatments.
For most people, having healthy legs isn’t just something to wish for. It’s an attainable goal. Your legs can look and feel fantastic with a little daily effort. While leg health isn’t always the first thing on your mind when it comes to your body, it is important.
Moving for Just 30 Minutes
Though it doesn’t seem like a lot of time, finding 30 minutes to move your body is often hard to do. Our schedules are busier than ever, but you can find half an hour to improve your leg health! Not only does moving everyday help your heart, but it can also improve your leg functionality, as well. A study has shown that subjects who were not used to moving have managed to get in better shape and increase their lean muscle by simply moving for 30 minutes a day. After the month-long observation, the majority of the subjects lost body fat, had increased flexibility, and lowered their blood pressure – all by significant numbers.
Leg Health Could Mean Overall Health
Even if it’s just walking for half an hour, that alone will get fresh, oxygen-rich blood pumping to all of your organs and extremities. Once you have taken your first few walks it won’t be long before this becomes a healthy habit. Once you see results, you’ll want to do more. Of course, it takes dedication, time, and maybe even some inspiration.
Long-term health benefits of daily movement include reduced risk for heart disease and stroke, sturdier bones, better balance, and improved joint strength. Just 30 minutes a day, a few days a week, can lead to a healthier you and vastly improved vascular health. Meanwhile, all these steps can add up to stronger, healthier veins in your legs and body. That said, varicose and spider veins are oftentimes out of our control and might require professional treatment.
Walking for 30 minutes (or approximately 5,000 steps) can seem daunting at first. However, once you start achieving this goal, you’ll want to go farther and for more time. You may even change up your exercise routine to include lifting weights, CrossFit workouts, or interval training. Any way you spin it, it’s a win-win situation. That said, any time you will be performing any kind of exercise it’s imperative that you stretch beforehand, and it doesn’t hurt to stretch again later that day. The more you stretch and exercise, the happier your veins, organs, muscles, tendons, and bones will be.
A Little About Varicose Veins
One of the benefits of regular walking and exercise is by eliminating, or avoiding, excess body weight. It’s generally accepted the excess body weight places a strain on the cardiovascular system, and makes it more difficult for blood within the leg veins to return to the heart.
Many experts believe that progression of varicose and spider veins can minimized by maintaining an active lifestyle. Keep in mind that each person’s physiology is different and heredity factors can play a role.
Although unsightly varicose veins and spider veins are usually benign, there may be underlying issues causing the surface veins to appear. The best advice is to become and stay active. If you are concerned about your veins, getting a consult from a vascular surgeon that specializes in vein problems is likely your best bet.
Are All Varicose Veins Visible?
The short answer to the question is NO, but the reason why is a bit more complicated. The creation of varicose veins occurs when blood isn’t able to travel back to the heart as it should. The outcome is the blood pooling within the vein which can lead to bulgy, unsightly veins. Varicose veins are only visible when the vein is immediately beneath the skin. Many of our veins are hidden beneath the visible layers of skin, and can just as easily become varicose. If an observer were to simply see your legs, they wouldn’t be able to tell for sure if varicosities are present. Luckily, there are other symptoms that might bring you to see a vascular specialist.
What Symptoms Can Mean Varicose Veins?
Tired, heavy, achy legs are among the symptoms many suffer with or without surface varicose veins. Other symptoms can include but might not be limited to:
- Standing that brings on swollen ankles or feet
- Red, tender, or warmer locations of your leg
- Flaky, bleeding, ulcer-like spots on your legs
It is important not to ignore these symptoms. Tired, aching legs may be normal after a long hike, but it is not normal for you to experience these after a short walk or just sitting. If you have a location like this on your body, please seek medical attention. This could be an indication of a blood clot or infection and must be diagnosed and treated immediately.
Should I See a Vein Doctor if I Cannot See Varicose Veins?
When you are tired, you may feel that you are abnormally swollen. Seeing your vein specialists can help ease your discomfort as we will address the underlying causes. Once we have determined the cause of your symptoms, we will continue with the treatment. Depending on your situation, we may start with conservative options such as compression stockings and certain lifestyle changes. If you’re still suffering or your condition improves after conservative treatment, we will continue to evaluate as we go along.
The majority of our treatments are minimally invasive, offer little discomfort, and are non-surgical. Most patients enjoy the benefits of non-invasive surgery. There is sometimes a little need for a self-adhesive bandage and/or over-the-counter pain relievers to quell any discomfort.
For visible varicose veins or other prominent symptoms, such as swelling of the legs or bruising, our free vein screenings may be an option for you. There we can provide you with a small evaluation and from there, determine the course of action. However, if you notice the not-so-obvious symptoms, you will need to schedule a comprehensive exam.
Those who suffer from varicose and spider veins likely know how winter months can be somewhat painful on varicose veins.
Weight gain is one of the common problems that exacerbate for varicose veins. Typically in winter people will add some weight due to cooler weather, less outdoor activity, and of course, get-togethers. We spend winter staying indoors, often with people we see seldom, which encourages not-so-healthy snacking, dinners, and grazing. So, chances are, a couple pounds here and there during the harsh cold months is a possibility.
When someone gains weight, sometimes even just a couple of pounds, it could mean more problems for your varicose veins during the winter months. This is more common in winter than during the rest of the year.
Atmospheric pressure is also a factor when the mercury starts dropping. A change in pressure like this can render the circulatory system inefficient, thus aggravating vein issues.
Some Helpful Tips
Patients who know the suffering of winter do not fear. There are a few steps you can take to alleviate poor circulation.
- Bundle up, and go walking. Even just a mile spread out over a day will get that blood pumping and help a great deal.
- Consume fiber-rich foods, these help promote circulation.
- Keep your legs elevated for 30 minutes before bed, this also can help with circulation.
- Massage your ankles and calves a few times a day to encourage blood movement.
- Stretch at least three times per day. Morning, afternoon, and evening stretching can really ease the uncomfortable conditions varicose veins can cause.
To help ease the impact winter might cause on your veins, watch what you eat, and try and maintain some sort of daily physical activity. Even if you have limits to what you’re able to do, give each day a little effort to get the blood pumping.
A surefire way to do what you can, and this is an easy one – drink lots of water. Despite what season it is, this is good advice, but in the winter it may help minimize the effects of varicose vein discomfort. It might be a good idea to set a reminder every 15 minutes or so during cold snaps to take a sip. We tend not to drink as much water when it’s cooler out, and often end up less than hydrated.
Cold Weather Isn’t All Bad
But cold climates can also benefit veins. The truth is, venous health can be improved from winter weather also. Cold weather has the opposite effect of warm when it comes to blood pooling in veins, causing them to dilate. Therefore lower temps can actually shrink veins, which promotes increased blood flow and relief from symptoms like swelling and cramps.
As the summer comes to a close, it’s a great idea to check out the fine print in your health insurance policy.
Many policies contain what is called an annual maximum, and that is the highest amount of care your plan will cover per person in a single year. The annual maximum resets at the beginning of each year. At the opposite end of the spectrum, many plans have an out of pocket maximum. This means if you’ve already eclipsed your deductible and/or out of pocket maximum, and necessary procedures will be covered, often by as much as 100%. Either direction, this means NO cost to you (outside of your premium, of course).
Get The Most Out Of Your Insurance Policy
It’s always best to take care of these issues before the end of the year and to try and squeeze the most out of your insurance policy in any given year. If you do not hit your annual maximum or take advantage of your deductible by the end of the year, all the benefit from that money will be lost. In many cases, this is free or “paid for” money. Why not do everything you can to minimize your out of pocket costs? Have a flexible spending or health reimbursement account? Those can work for you too!
Next year, you or a family member who is your policy might need costly surgery that pushes you over your annual maximum. At that point, you’ll regret not getting the simpler issues-like spider and varicose veins-taken care of before the end of the year. There’s no point in paying for benefits if you’re not utilizing them to the utmost extent.
If you have already had various medical treatments this calendar year, then you might have met your deductible, which means you won’t have any more money out of pocket to spend for dental care. Of course, this varies from plan to plan. But it’s surely another good reason to schedule your vein screening before the end of the year.
If you have varicose veins or are suffering from tired, achy, heavy-feeling legs, and you’ve been putting off a visit with a vascular surgeon, it might be time to get these issues addressed. Aside from the monthly free vein screenings, Dr. Peter Ford MD of Vascular Solutions also offers cosmetic consultations and comprehensive evaluations.
Don’t Put It Off
Often, waiting to get treatment could lead to more costly and complicated treatments and procedures. If you don’t address the smaller, underlying problems now, they have the potential to be serious in the not-too-distant future. In rare cases, delaying treatment for varicose veins could turn into something far more serious, like deep vein thrombosis.
And finally, another great reason to schedule a vascular screening before the end of the year is that your current policy may include changes for next year, such as a higher deductible or a lower annual maximum. You have the health insurance benefits – don’t waste them by not using them!
by: Peter Ford MD