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Too "Vein" to Wear Shorts? Get Those Legs Ready For Summer

Jun 08, 2016 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Lisa J. Gotto

Throughout our lives, our legs do wondrous things for us. Never mind just getting us from here to there, but the system of veins within our legs is extensive and has the enormous responsibility of carrying and pumping blood back up to our heart.

No wonder as we age, these vessels wear out and the result can be both worrisome medically, and bothersome and unsightly aesthetically. If you have ever woken up doing a full body stretch only to find your legs below the knees feel like they have seized up and you cannot complete the stretch without cramping, you are most likely experiencing an event associated with venous disease.

Venous Disease is a broad-based term used to define various maladies associated with veins.

Because the circulatory system is so vast within the leg, these veins located so close to the skin’s outer layer, can be removed without compromising blood flow.


A Long Way, Baby

Fortunately medical science has answers in the form of treatments that help address the aching and fatigue associated with venous disease, and new procedures have drastically reduced the need for a common, yet painful and anxiety-producing invasive treatment.

In the past, a cumbersome procedure known as “stripping” was used to get inside the vein via an incision in the groin area and a thin, flexible rod. The rod acted as a pulling device that removed the offending vein entirely from the leg. This procedure needed to be performed in the hospital under general anesthesia and the recovery period was painful and somewhat lengthy. These procedures are rarely necessary now with the advent of radiofrequency and laser technologies that treat both primary vein conditions known varicose veins and spider veins.

When veins become worn and thinner as we age, the circulatory blood can pool up in them, causing bulging veins that can be concerning. These are identified as varicose veins. They can appear as white or bluish protruding areas on skin. These varicosities are commonly seen on the legs.

“Varicose veins are most effectively treated by vein ablation of the ‘feeder vein,’ or the vein that is causing the pressure on the bulging vein,” says Dr. Kelly O’Donnell of O’Donnell Vein & Laser of Chester, Easton, and Annapolis.

(Ablation means the inside of the vein is cauterized thereby shutting off the pressure that causes varicose vein formation.)

If necessary, the varicose vein can then be completely eliminated with a procedure called microphlebectomy in which small punctures are made in the skin over the bulges which are then removed.

Itsy Bitsy, But Bothersome

Dr. O’Donnell adds that the gold standard for treatment of smaller or ‘spider’ veins in the legs is sclerotherapy. “If the varicosity is small, an injection with medication that irritates the inside of the vein and causes it to collapse may be most effective. Vein injection of these sclerosants is called sclerotherapy.”

Patients undergoing this form of treatment usually require multiple sessions to achieve the best possible cosmetic results.

“If the spider veins are causing itching or burning, those symptoms usually resolve after one sclerotherapy appointment. Lasers work great for small facial veins that are typically seen on the cheeks, chin and around the nose, but they are not very effective for the leg spider veins,” Dr. O’Donnell explains.

My Mom Has Them

“Venous disease is a chronic condition that is hereditary,” Dr. O’Donnell conveys. “The most common veins affected are the saphenous veins, a superficial venous system just under the skin. Initially patients may present with one or more bad veins, but other veins can become diseased over time.”

Even after treatment, daily use of compression stockings may be helpful in preventing recurrent problems.

Aside from cosmetic issues, issues associated with pain, swelling, or throbbing in the legs should always be brought to a physician’s attention. Other symptoms associated with bad veins are cramping and experiencing restless legs at night.

Fortunately, most vein conditions are treatable with minimally invasive, in-office procedures. So if you can see yourself in shorts this summer, see a qualified physician for a complete rundown of your dare-to-bare options. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!


The National Institutes of Health estimates that 60% of all men and women suffer from some form of vein disorder.



Thinking of Supplements?

Taking a daily dose (100 mg) of coenzyme Q10 helps with circulation and tissue oxygenation. Omega-3 oils (1,000 mg daily) help with elasticity of blood vessels.


“Varicose veins are most effectively treated by vein ablation of the ‘feeder vein,’ or the vein that is causing the pressure on the bulging vein.”
—Dr. Kelly O’Donnell of O’Donnell Vein & Laser of Chester, Easton, and Annapolis.


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