Submitted by Kenneth Sternberg, DO, FACC, Augusta Health Cardiology
Venous disease is one of the most common conditions affecting our health. There are more than 190 million people who have chronic venous insufficiency or varicose veins in the world. More than 30 million people are affected in the United States, but only 1.9 million people seek treatment annually in the US. Healthy veins have valves which open and close to assist the return of blood to the heart. Venous disease (also called vein insufficiency or venous reflux) occurs if these valves become damaged, allowing the backward flow of blood in the legs. Because gravity works on the legs more than on any other part of the body, these thin walled veins are under tremendous pressure. When blood cannot be properly returned through the vein, it can pool leading to a feeling of heaviness, fatigue, varicose veins and skin changes. Over time, this increased pressure can cause additional valves to fail and can lead to leg pain, swelling, ulcers and other health problems. Many people have visible varicose veins, where others have no visible signs of disease but have significant symptoms. It can affect men and women of all ages and activity levels, and while it has a strong genetic component, venous disease can be aggravated by environmental risk, pregnancy, and jobs that require long periods of standing on hard floors.
Treatment can help manage venous disease by eliminating pain and improving appearance and overall health. Prior therapy, called venous ligation, was a very invasive and painful procedure. Today’s treatments are minimally invasive, cause very little pain, and can be accomplished quickly in our outpatient center. Treatment can stop the progression of the disease and its complications for those in its early stages and for though struggling with late-stage symptoms, it can restore health and quality of life.
The Augusta Health vein clinic uses radio-frequency ablation to close the diseased veins even before the patient leaves the office. A new modality called Venoseal, was just approved January 1, 2018, and our clinic will be the first in the area to offer this new modality, which is even less invasive and less painful. The system delivers a small amount of a specially formulated medical adhesive to the diseased vein. The adhesive seals the vein and blood is rerouted to nearby healthy veins. With this new procedure there will be no need for local anesthesia or postoperative stockings.
If you feel that you have signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency, please contact your primary care physician or call the Augusta Health cardiology/vein clinic at (540) 245-7080 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sternberg.