The Basics on Veins

Your body is made up of many different systems that help it to function properly. The circulatory system is one of those intricate systems. Within the circulatory system are arteries and veins.

The arterial system pumps blood throughout the body, transporting nutrients, hormones, carbon dioxide, oxygen and blood cells to the organs and other tissues. The movement of these substances play a vital role in your body’s ability to fight diseases, stabilize temperature and pH, and maintain homeostasis. The venous system, made up of veins, is responsible for returning the nutrient-depleted blood to the heart.

Vein functions

Inside the elastic tubes we know as veins are special valves that move the blood in a one-way direction to help prevent the blood from flowing backward. With around 60 percent of the body’s blood flowing through your veins, the veins help many systems that are crucial to cardiovascular health and other functions of the body.

Structure of veins

Almost all veins contain valves that prevent the reverse flow of blood. In addition, each vein is made up of three layers:

  • A thick, outer layer made up of connective tissue
  • A middle layer containing bands of smooth muscle
  • An interior layer of membranous tissue lined with endothelial cells

Types of veins

There are many types of veins, all with different characteristics and purposes. Some of them include:

Superficial veins – Superficial veins reside close to the surface of the body.

Deep veins – Deep veins are found deeper in the body and have corresponding arteries.

Communicating veins – Communicating veins (or perforator veins) are veins that directly connect superficial veins to deep veins.

Pulmonary veins – Pulmonary veins are a set of veins that deliver oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart.

Systemic veins – Systemic veins drain the tissues of the body and deliver deoxygenated blood to the heart.

Venous disorders

  • Deep vein thrombosis – Deep vein thrombosis is when a blood clot develops within a deep vein. This can occur after surgery or prolonged hospitalization or as a result of immobility or the side effects of taking oral contraceptive pills.
  • Venous insufficiency – Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins become weakened or damaged, which can result in pooling blood within the veins. This can cause varicose veins and spider veins. It is caused by many factors, including pregnancy, age or prolonged sitting or standing.

Vein treatment

When it comes to vein disease, it’s important to know your options for treatment. If gone untreated, venous insufficiency will progress and become extremely painful, and deep vein thrombosis can even be life threatening. It’s important to have any potential vein issues evaluated and diagnosed by a vein specialist. Call our team at Total Vein Care today at (225) 245-3540 to schedule your next appointment.

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How to Ease Leg Swelling

Leg swelling, also referred to as edema, can be painful and embarrassing. It can be caused by various factors like certain diseases, lifestyle choices or medications. Some of the main causes of leg swelling can be:

  • Obesity
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Excessive hormone intake like estrogen or testosterone
  • Taking certain antidepressants or steroids
  • Natural changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy or preeclampsia
  • Blood clots in the leg
  • An infection or injury in the legs
  • Venous insufficiency

Though some of these conditions require medical attention, some types of swelling can be reduced by a few simple tips and changes to your lifestyle.

Wear compression stockings for support

Compression stockings are tight stockings made out of elastic that keep continuous pressure around your lower leg and ankle to prevent fluid buildup.

  • Compression stockings can be worn during normal daily activities and while exercising
  • Some stockings need to be fitted by a physician

Reduce salt intake

Excess salt in the body attracts water to the tissues, so reducing salt consumption can reduce edema. Here are some easy ways to cut back on salt and sodium consumption:

  • Avoid adding table salt to your food. Instead, try using other salt-free seasonings that can add flavor without all the salt.
  • Limit your intake of processed food, which can contain large amounts of hidden sodium.

Get up and move

Prolonged sitting or standing without moving can make your blood more prone to pool in your extremities and result in swelling. By walking about at least once an hour, your leg muscles can expand and contract, which will stimulate the blood flow within the veins.

If you do choose to sit for extended periods of time, or if it is unavoidable, try to keep your legs elevated to prevent blood pooling. Prop your feet up on a stool or ottoman and place a pillow under your legs while resting.

Drink plenty of water

Be sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day to help flush out your system and eliminate toxins and added sodium. In addition, some teas with diuretic properties like chamomile or dandelion leaf can speed up the flushing process to help detoxify your body.

The right kind of exercise

Though some types of exercise can aggravate swelling, the right kind of physical activity can actually help relieve leg swelling. If your body isn’t already accustomed to regular exercise, start out slow by incorporating low-impact exercises that don’t put strain on your body, such as swimming or yoga.

If you are experiencing swelling in your legs it could be cause by a serious venous disease. Call the vein specialists at Total Vein Care today at (225) 245-3540 to schedule a screening.

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What is Phlebology?

Phlebology is a term used to describe the specialty of venous disorder treatments. A medically certified specialist in phlebology is called a phlebologist.

The American Medical Association added phlebology to their list of self-designated practice specialties in 2005. There have been many associations and societies put in place that focus entirely on the treatment of venous disorders. These associations have helped to develop and improve advanced methods used within the field of phlebology.  

  • In 2007, the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM) was established to improve the standards of phlebologists and the quality of their patient care by developing a certification examination.
  • With over 2,000 members, the American College of Phlebology (ACP) is one of the largest medical societies in the world for health professionals working in the field of phlebology.

Types of venous disorders

Venous insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is the most common venous disorder and is often — but not always —exhibited by spider veins or varicose veins. Venous insufficiency occurs when the flow of blood is inhibited due to damaged valves within the vein, resulting in backward blood flow.

Thrombophlebitis

Thrombophlebitis, sometimes referred to as phlebitis, occurs when a blood clot blocks one or more of your veins, often in your legs. This can affect veins near the surface of the skin, known as superficial thrombophlebitis, or in a deep vein, which is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Minimally invasive vein disorder treatments

Endovenous laser therapy

Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) is a minimally-invasive procedure that’s done by inserting a tiny catheter through a small incision into the vein. Using light energy to close the problem vein, the vein is gradually absorbed by the body. EVLT is painless and allows you to get back to your normal routine with little to no downtime.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy involves injecting a special sclerosing agent directly into the problem vein using a super-fine needle. The sclerosing agent causes the veins to shut down and gradually be absorbed into the body naturally. The procedure is quick, only about 20-30 minutes, and you can return to work the next day.

Microphlebectomy

Microphlebectomy is used to treat problem veins that are too small to be treated with EVLT but too large to be treated with sclerotherapy. This procedure involves making tiny incisions through which the problem vein can be removed painlessly. There is little to no downtime after this procedure.

VeinGogh treatment

The VeinGogh treatment is normally performed on those who have spider veins on certain areas like the face, ankles or knees. This treatment uses a very fine, insulated needle to administer a high-frequency electrical energy to selectively target spider veins. The spider veins will disappear quickly, and you can return to work the next day.

If you or someone you love has questions about vein disease, give the vein specialists at Total Vein Care a call today at (225) 245-3549 to schedule your next appointment.

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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Varicose Veins

Though varicose veins can be unsightly and often very painful, there are more serious reasons why you shouldn’t ignore them.

Do you have varicose veins? Found primarily on the legs, varicose veins are large, bulging, twisted veins that you can see just below the skin. In addition to their ugly appearance, they can be very painful and cause symptoms like:

  • Burning, throbbing or cramping in the legs
  • Tired, achy or heavy feelings in the legs
  • Itchy feelings around the veins

Varicose veins occur as a result of damaged one-way valves within the veins. These valves are responsible for pushing the blood through the vein in one direction back up to the heart. When these valves become damaged or weakened, blood backs up or pools in the vein, creating visibly large, lumpy, bulging veins.

If you haven’t thought about getting your varicose veins checked, you should consider it. Varicose veins can sometimes be an indicator of a more serious underlying condition and if gone untreated, will lead to some serious complications. These can include:

Blood clots

Varicose veins can be a potential cause of blood clots, a complication that can cause pain and swelling. Depending on where it is located, a blood clot can be serious. There are two main types of blood clot conditions:

  • Deep vein thrombosis – Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a serious condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein within the body. This can cause feelings of pulling, warmth, redness, swelling and pain in the calf. If this clot breaks free and travels to your lungs (known as a pulmonary embolism), it can be fatal.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitisSuperficial thrombophlebitis occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein that is just below the skin. Though not as serious as DVT, signs include redness, firmness, tenderness and sometimes pain and swelling.

Ulcers and bleeding

Sometimes, very painful venous ulcers (open sores) may form on the skin as a result of varicose veins, particularly near the ankles. Ulcers are caused by long-term fluid buildup in these tissues, caused by increased pressure of blood within the affected veins. A discolored spot on the skin is usually a precursor to a venous ulcer.

Unfortunately, some are more susceptible to developing varicose veins than others. Some risk factors include:

  • Age The risk of developing varicose veins increases as you age. People over 60 are often more susceptible.
  • Obesity Excessive weight can add more pressure to the veins.
  • Pregnancy Some pregnant women develop varicose veins as a result of increased blood volume, but decreased blood flow from the legs to the pelvis.
  • Gender Females are more susceptible to varicose veins than men.
  • Prolonged sitting or standing – Sitting or standing for long periods of time can inhibit blood flow.

If you are concerned about complications from varicose veins, call the vein specialists at Total Vein Care at (225) 245-3540 to schedule your appointment today.

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Tips on Choosing a Vein Specialist

When it comes to vein disease, choosing the right vein specialist can be difficult. You may not know where to begin, and you may have a lot of questions. Should you take a referral from your primary care physician or choose a vein specialist more carefully? Or maybe you should do a quick search online. You can’t rely on your primary-care doctor for your vein needs, but you do in fact have a choice. So take the time to educate yourself to make the right one.

Vein disease can be a complex condition that requires expert treatment. When choosing a vein specialist, there are a few things to consider.

Check their credentials

First and foremost, check the credentials and background of the physician. Your vein specialist should be certified by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine and ideally should have board certification in vascular surgery, interventional radiology or some other medical specialty involving endovascular (“inside the vein”) treatment.

Look into the doctors’ experience and training as well. Where did they receive their medical degree? How long have they been practicing? Do an online search for their names to read reviews. It is also important to choose a provider who employs registered vascular technicians (RVT’s) to assist with the diagnosis and treatment process.

Vein expert or not?

Your primary physician may be able to convince you to seek treatment under his or her care, but we recommend that you explore your options. Some doctors may offer vein treatment in addition to other, unrelated procedures. Their primary field of expertise may be facelifts or microdermabrasion, not vein treatment. For the best experience possible, it’s best to choose a physician who specializes in vein treatment only.

Observe their compassion and customer service

Although it’s important to find a physician who specializes in vein treatment, it’s also important to find one who values compassion as part of the medical care they provide. Does your physician listen to your concerns? Does he or she cater your treatment plan specifically to your needs? Do you feel comfortable in his or her office?

Also take note on the ease of appointment scheduling. Were you on hold for long durations of time? Was the scheduler knowledgeable and helpful? These are all important things to consider.

State-of-the-art equipment for top care

Your vein specialist should use the latest technology with state-of-the-art equipment that can diagnose or treat a wide variety of vascular conditions in the least invasive way possible. Many vein practices will use equipment that is outdated, used or has limited capabilities. Find a vein center with a skilled team trained to use advanced ultrasound equipment to diagnose vein diseases as well as laser and radiofrequency technology for treatment. Lastly, be sure they offer a wide variety of vein procedures.

Visit their website

Be sure to visit your vein specialist’s website before scheduling an appointment. Look for a site that is up-to-date, offers helpful information on vein treatment and introduces their physicians and staff.

The vein specialists at Total Vein Care encourage you to find the specialist who is right for you. At Total Vein Care, we have dedicated ourselves to vein treatment and management. We provide individualized care for our patients with state-of-the-art treatment and diagnosis techniques.

If you are suffering from varicose veins, spider veins or the symptoms of vein disease and looking for the right vein specialists, give our team at Total Vein Care a call today at (255) 245-3540 to schedule your next appointment.

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The Connection Between Pregnancy and Varicose Veins

When a woman becomes pregnant, many physiological and emotional changes can take place — a rise in hormone levels, an increase in blood volume, and an increase in uterus size, just to name a few.

These physiological changes during pregnancy are also often accompanied by a long list of physical symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Faster heart rate
  • Higher resting body temperature

Another common symptom of pregnancy is varicose veins. While many people who aren’t pregnant experience these painful, bulging veins, pregnant women are at a greater risk of developing them, especially in the legs. Here is a list of the reasons behind the connection:

Increased Blood Volume – A pregnant woman has about 50 percent more blood volume than when she was not expecting. This increase in blood volume places an extra burden on her veins, which are already fighting against gravity to push the blood back up from the lower extremities to the heart. This has a tendency to cause the walls of the veins to weaken, stretch and sag.

Pressure on the Inferior Vena Cava – As a pregnant woman’s uterus grows and becomes heavier, it puts more and more pressure on the major vein that runs on the right side of her body, called the inferior vena cava. This increases the blood pressure in her legs which, again, places an added strain on her veins.

Progesterone Levels – Another connection between pregnancy and varicose veins is the increased levels of the hormone progesterone in a woman’s body during pregnancy. The heightened levels of this hormone cause the walls of the veins in her body to dilate and relax. This increases the likelihood that the veins will swell and bulge, becoming varicose veins.

How to Avoid Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Varicose veins can be painful and cause a sense of “heaviness” and burning sensations in the lower extremities. There are things that pregnant women can do to prevent or minimize the impact of varicose veins including:

  • Regular exercise to help maintain healthy blood flow
  • Elevating feet and legs throughout the day, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods of time
  • Avoiding crossing legs or feet as this can hinder blood flow
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Changing body positions periodically to maintain proper blood flow
  • Sleeping on the left side of the body, which relieves some pressure on the inferior vena cava
  • Wearing compression stockings, which help foster efficient blood flow from the lower extremities

Healthy Veins During Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings with it a surplus of symptoms — emotional and physical alike — that contribute to the growth and birth of a baby. While varicose veins are more likely during pregnancy, there are things pregnant women can do to reduce their risk by managing exercise, weight, daily activity and sleep positions. After delivery, varicose veins typically reduce and disappear.

If you have questions about your risk of varicose veins during pregnancy, give the vein specialists a Total Vein Care a call today at (225) 245-2540 to schedule your next appointment.

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Does Crossing Your Legs Cause Varicose Veins?

Many of you have heard it before “Crossing your legs will cause varicose veins.”

The debate has gone on for ages, but what’s the truth? Can simply crossing your legs too often be one of reasons you’re developing varicose veins, or is it just a myth?

The truth is that crossing your legs is not a direct cause of varicose veins, but heavy amounts of pressure on the legs can be a contributing factor.

To understand varicose veins, you must first understand how veins work. Veins are the transport vessels from various regions of the body through which blood travels back to the heart. One-way valves within the veins prevent the blood from flowing backward.

Simply put, varicose veins develop when the one-way valves become weakened or damaged, forcing the blood to back up or pool in the vein. This increases pressure inside the vein, which can cause other valves to begin failing. In this way, vein disease is progressive, meaning that it gets worse without treatment. Eventually, the pooling and increased pressure causes the veins to stretch and expand, resulting in bluish, dark, swollen, bulging and twisted veins.

Some factors that will affect your chances of developing varicose veins include:

Age

With advanced age comes the possibility of weakened or damaged veins. Over time, your veins can lose their elasticity, causing them to stretch. With this lack of bounce-back, the valves that support the one-way pumping of blood don’t do their job as well, resulting in the pooling of blood in the veins.

Heredity

If your mother or grandmother had varicose veins, it is likely you could, as well, because varicose veins are hereditary. In addition, while varicose veins occur in both men and women, women are affected by them disproportionately.

Pregnancy

With pregnancy comes a lot of changes to the way the body functions. This includes the increased volume of blood moving from the legs to the pelvis, to support the fetus. A side effect of this circulation change is that the veins in the legs may swell, especially in the third trimester when the most pressure occurs.

Occupation

If your job requires you to sit or stand for extended amounts of time, this could play a role in the development of varicose veins. Keeping your legs in the same position all day can affect the way the blood circulates in your body, especially the legs.

Keep in mind that any time there is added pressure that restricts or alters circulation, especially in your legs, it could become a contributing factor to varicose veins.

There is no way to completely avoid varicose veins, but there are some things you can do to help prevent them. Surprisingly, these preventive steps are the same steps you can take to alleviate the discomfort that accompanies existing varicose veins.

  • Exercise
  • Compression stockings
  • Leg elevation
  • High-fiber, low-salt diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Don’t sit or stand for extended amounts of time
  • Avoiding high heels

For any other questions you may have about the causes and treatment of varicose veins, call Total Vein Care at (225) 245-3540 today and schedule your appointment with one of our expert vein specialists.

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Understanding Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a frustrating and exhausting condition that can affect many areas of your life, especially your sleep schedule. Though this well-known medical condition sounds relatively harmless, severe cases of RLS can cause symptoms that lead to chronic sleep deprivation.

What are the signs and symptoms of restless legs syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome obtained its name from the irresistible urge to move your legs to relieve the annoying sensations it causes. Symptoms can come and go, ranging from mild to severe. They are much worse at night, when you are trying to rest. For some, symptoms can even impair their quality of life. Common sensations associated with RLS are:
• Itching
• Throbbing
• Aching
• Creeping
• Crawling
• Pulling
• Twitching
• “Pins and needles”

What are the causes of restless legs syndrome?

The cause of RLS is not well understood, but there are a few factors that are associated with the development of this condition. Some research has shown that genes can play a role; many of those who suffer from RLS have a family member who suffers, as well.

Other factors include:

  • Pregnancy – RLS during the last trimester of pregnancy is common due to low levels of iron. Symptoms typically fade within a month after delivery.
  • Chronic diseases or conditions – People with chronic conditions and diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, anemia, kidney failure and peripheral neuropathy can manifest symptoms of RLS.
  • Medications – Certain medications such as cold and allergy medications, anti-nausea medications, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs can exacerbate symptoms of RLS.
  • Age – Symptoms of RLS generally worsen with age, and the likeliness of suffering from this condition increases after the age of 50.
  • Gender – Though anyone can develop RLS, women are more likely to experience symptoms than men.

Diagnosing restless legs syndrome

Because there is no medical test to diagnose RLS, a process of elimination must be used to rule out other possible causal conditions. The diagnosis involves the patient answering questions about family history, symptoms, medical history, medication use and sleep patterns. Most patients will be diagnosed with RLS if they display these four criteria:
• An urge to move their legs due to uncomfortable sensations
• The urge gets worse during periods of rest or inactivity
• The sensations are partially or totally relieved by movement
• The sensations and urge to move are worst at night

Treatment options for restless legs syndrome

For those who experience mild to moderate symptoms of restless leg syndrome, there are a few easy ways to relieve some symptoms. A few simple lifestyle changes — like incorporating regular exercise, maintaining normal sleep habits, and minimizing the use or consumption of caffeine, tobacco and/or alcohol — can make a huge difference. Leg massages, hot baths, ice packs or heating pads are also other options for relief from the “crawling” or “pins and needles” feelings of RLS.

Keep in mind that every case of RLS is different, and depending on the severity of the case, treatment options will vary. A specialist can also prescribe certain medications that may be able to provide relief, if needed.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome, call the experts at Total Vein Care at (225) 245-3540 to speak with a professional today.

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What is a Venous Ulcer?

Venous ulcers can occur when there is insufficient blood flow from the legs. When the valve in the vein does not function properly, blood pools in the veins and can seep into the surrounding tissue. The tissue becomes damaged and hardens, usually resulting in skin discoloration and sores. These ulcers do not always arise when there is venous insufficiency, but if you do have varicose veins or other vein disorders, you may be at risk.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

The risk factors for venous ulcers are similar to other vein disorders, such as smoking, obesity, standing or sitting for long periods of time and lack of exercise. If you have deep vein thrombosis, the risk for ulcers is also quite high. Once the ulcers have formed, you will start to see physical signs. The skin around the affected vein can become discolored, usually red or purple like a bruise. The skin can then become dry and itchy. The skin can also break and become infected, which can be extremely painful. It is best to seek help from a trained physician at the first sign of the ulcer. If left untreated for too long, it may be hard to treat or get rid of the ulcer completely.

Treatments

Treatments can vary, depending on the severity and stage of the ulcer. When the ulcer is still forming, your doctor may recommend elevating your legs to get blood flowing through the area. Improving circulation to your legs is important to not only treat venous disorders but to prevent them as well. Compression stockings are also a useful tool in treating or preventing ulcers. These can be worn daily to increase the blood flow through the legs to the heart. Treating the underlying disorder can help treat ulcers. If you have a venous disorder such as varicose veins you should seek medical treatment to ensure the problem does not become worse. A board-certified vein specialist will work with you in determining the best course of action for you.

The professionals at Total Vein Care can help you prevent vein-related health problems. Call (225) 245-3540 to set up a consultation or learn more by going to https://totalveincarelouisiana.com.

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March is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month

This month marks the 12th year of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month. Raising awareness of this potentially deadly disorder is paramount to preventing it. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein, typically in the leg. If the clot becomes dislodged, it can travel to major organs like the lungs and brain. Between 350,000 and 600,000 people each year are diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, and most of these cases could have been prevented through awareness of the risk factors and lifestyle changes.

Risk factors

Sedentary lifestyle – inactivity is one of the biggest risk factors for blood clots. When you remain sedentary for too long, blood can pool in veins and begin to clot. Exercise or daily movement, especially after sitting for long periods of time, can help prevent this.

Age – Although there is nothing you can do about getting older, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle as you get older. Exercising and eating better can help reduce the risk of diseases that lead to age-related problems.

High blood pressure – Checking your blood pressure regularly can help you determine if you may be at risk. High blood pressure indicates a problem with how your blood is circulating. If you do have high blood pressure, medication may be necessary to regulate it. Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol can also lower blood pressure.

Birth control pills – Some birth control pills have a hormone called drospirenone that has been linked to blood clots. Consult your doctor to know what your birth control contains, to lower your risk.

Long plane flights – Between the cabin pressure and the long periods of sitting, a plane flight can be a dangerous adventure. Standing, or walking around the plane, can help combat blood clots. Wearing compression stockings can also prevent DVT.

Symptoms

If you think you may be at risk, you should check yourself for several symptoms that could indicate deep vein thrombosis. Leg swelling is a tale-tell sign of DVT. Pain, itching and burning sensations can also be present. The skin around the affected area can become discolored. If you see any of these signs, you should seek immediate medical attention.

For more information about deep vein thrombosis and other vein disorders, contact Total Vein Care at (225) 245-3540. Our vein experts can help you!

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