About Vein Treatments
Veins are tube-shaped vessels in your body responsible for returning blood from your organs, arms, and legs back to your heart. Veins in the legs have a particularly difficult job because the blood from the legs has to travel uphill, which means the blood in those veins has to flow up against the constant pull of gravity. Healthy leg veins are extremely efficient for this type of work. Your veins are lined with a series of one-way check valves, which keep the blood moving in one direction all the time — up, up, up and on out of the legs back to the heart. Because gravity is always trying to pull the blood backward in these veins, it is crucial that one-way valves function properly in order to prevent blood from reversing direction and pool down in the lower legs.
If these valves begin to fail, the blood will reverse directions and create a condition known as venous reflux or venous insufficiency. As blood begins to pool in the lower legs and feet, the result is spider vein or varicose veins with swelling, pain, skin discoloration, bulging veins and/or other serious complications that worsen with time. At the Austin Vein Institute, we are very fortunate to have Dr. Christopher Brennig who is a double board-certified vascular surgeon with a practice dedicated exclusively to the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of vein conditions. With seven years of intensive training and education in general surgery and vascular surgery plus many years of vascular surgical experience, Dr. Brennig is an excellent choice for medical providers to evaluate and treat your vein conditions. After an initial consultation and examination in his Austin, TX office, Dr. Brennig will develop a treatment plan catering specifically to your needs.
Types of Veins We Treat
Varicose veins are damaged veins that no longer work properly and frequently develop as the result of a genetically inherited condition that predisposes the one-way valves within superficial veins to eventually stop working. The pressure within these thin-walled veins increases, which pushes and stretches the veins to become swollen and dilated. The longer varicose veins are left untreated, the more they will spread around to other areas of the legs and feet, eventually becoming even larger and more numerous. Patients with long-standing varicose veins are at an increased risk of phlebitis and thrombosis (blood clots and inflammation in the veins), which are very painful and potentially dangerous. Not treating varicose veins could lead to the possibility of blood clots breaking loose and traveling to the heart and lungs, which is known as a pulmonary embolism.
As time passes, more damage will accumulate in the surrounding tissues. The most common signs of damage related to varicose veins are leg swelling, pain, heaviness, skin itching (dermatitis), and skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) increasing with time. Bleeding is also a well-known complication of varicose veins and happens as the veins bulge by pushing up close to the skin’s surface. In the later stages of vein disease, open skin sores (known as venous skin ulcers) develop in about 25% of patients.
The first step in treating spider veins is to determine if there is any larger sourced of vein failure and reflux pushing into and causing the spider veins. Your spider veins can be a symptom of a more complex problem underneath the surface of your skin. Spider veins can afflict people of all ages, genders, and nationalities on the legs, face, and chest. If you have concerns, it is best to seek a comprehensive evaluation. Spider veins (telangiectasia) are very small (less than 1mm in diameter) superficial veins and typically found within the dermis. Usually, have a reddish-blue or purple-black color to them, spider veins can produce symptoms, such as skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation, localized skin burning, itching, feelings of heaviness, and muscle fatigue. Up to 90% of adults develop spider veins on their legs.
Dr. Brennig may also perform a detailed vascular assessment utilizing duplex ultrasonography. Once a larger vein insufficiency has been ruled out or treated, focused treatment of the spider veins can begin.
Feeder veins, or reticular veins, are generally present in a size between a spider vein and reticular vein. These blue and green, medium-sized veins beneath the skin's surface are enlarged from an abnormal increase in blood pooling and pressure.
There really are no "best candidates" for vein treatment. If you are experiencing the symptoms of varicose or spider veins, your veins are not as healthy as they could be, which makes you a candidate for Dr. Brennig's services.
Also known as superficial venous insufficiency, varicose veins are dark in color, swollen, and twisted under the skin. Varicose veins can be hereditary. Aging and/or being overweight also increases your risk. Some mild symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Heaviness in the legs
- Burning or itching sensations under the skin
- Aching, tenderness, or continuous pain
- Swelling in the legs, feet, and ankles
- Skin changes in color and texture
- Scaling of the skin
During the initial evaluation, he will take a thorough health history, perform an examination of the affected veins, and then perform a thorough diagnostic venous ultrasound. The ultrasound allows him to see what is going on below the surface of the skin and determine how effectively each of the veins is performing. The treatment plan is then developed based on those findings and discussed with you in detail.
Each type of vein condition requires different levels and intensities in treatment. Your care will never be passed off to anyone else. You deserve the care and experience of a dedicated board-certified vascular surgeon, like Dr. Brennig, no matter how simple or challenging your case. All procedures are safely performed in the comfort of our AVI office in Austin, TX.
Varicose veins are unattractive, but they are also unhealthy. Diseased veins will not get better on their own, nor can they be effectively treated with superficial, cosmetic-based approaches. The underlying problems will likely worsen over time and should be evaluated by a vascular specialist. Damaged veins are most commonly treated with the latest and most effective lasers, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, and microphlebectomy. These therapies are some of the most gentle and effective ways to remove the damaged veins. Once the veins are gone, the blood in the area is rerouted to the many healthy veins nearby.
Sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice for most spider veins, particularly those in the legs. Loupe magnification, targeted lighting, and microneedles are used, along with an FDA-approved sclerosing solution to treat and close down the spider veins. Once closed, these veins will dissolve through the body’s natural processes. For best results, patients will be asked to wear prescription grade support stockings for a brief period of time following their sclerotherapy treatment. Patients typically undergo 2 – 6 treatments to obtain the desired results. The average number of treatments is 3 – 4 for most patients. Once the veins are treated and dissolve, those veins will not return. However, new spider veins can form over time and they tend to appear in the areas where one has been prone to developing them.
Surface lasers like the 532nm KTP laser and the 1064nm Nd: YAG laser are sometimes beneficial for these veins, however, due to the associated heat, pain and slower treatment times with these lasers most experienced experts rely primarily on sclerotherapy for the best results when treating spider veins.
Just like spider veins, a damaged reticular vein tends to respond very well to sclerotherapy.
Recovery time for most vein treatment is relatively fast compared to techniques of the past and will not keep you from returning to work or interfering with your ability to perform normal tasks. It is essential to follow all of Dr. Brennig's post-procedure instructions and keep all follow-up appointments.
For those who have recurrent varicose veins, we offer rescue therapy. We perform our comprehensive evaluation to determine what factors are present that have caused the recurrence. Then, we put together our treatment plan to correct the problem in order to obtain the most durable results.
Quality Care for Veins
If you are dealing with a vein condition or still have questions about the process, Dr. Brennig loves answering your questions! Make a consultation appointment with us to see how our treatments will leave you feeling confident in your appearance and your health. Life is too short to continually suffer from vein pain! The Austin Vein Institute can help heal your veins before the damage worsens. Contact us today.