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Varicose Veins: Fact, Fiction and a Cure!

The most common myths and a new way to treat varicose veins.
Varicose veins are caused by weak or damaged valves in the veins. They can be ugly and embarrassing, but they can also cause other problems.

They are big, bulging, and unsightly. For Christy Arntz, varicose veins were also painful.

"Well, they itch. They hurt. Your feet and ankles swell," Christy Arntz told Ivanhoe.

About half of people over 50 will develop varicose veins, but how much do you know about this common problem? True or false: only women get varicose veins.

False, about 43 percent of men are expected to develop venous disease by the time they reach their sixties. Here's another: you can always see varicose veins.

"You can have this backward flow in the leg, creating enlarged superficial veins that stay under the skin enough so that it doesn't bulge," Joel Erickson, MD, Interventional Cardiologist, Laser Light Treatment Center in Novato, CA, told Ivanhoe.

True or false: varicose veins are hereditary.

That's true. In fact, family history is the biggest risk factor, but does prolonged standing cause varicose veins?

That's also true! However, crossing your legs does not. What about compression stockings? Can they solve the problem?

No, the stockings just relieve symptoms. Newer procedures, like this one, can.

Using an ultrasound to guide him, Dr. Joel Erickson inserts a catheter and delivers heat to destroy Christy's faulty vein.

Then, he injects a foam to close it and another liquid to help compress it. So, what do you think, does insurance cover this procedure?

Dr. Erickson says many policies will. Christy's did.

"I said, 'well, let's get it done," Christy said.

Now, she's looking forward to pain free legs.

Dr. Erickson says that every insurance company has guidelines about coverage of vein disease, but normally if a patient has bulging varicose veins-as opposed to just spider veins-along with symptoms such as pain, aching, or leg fatigue, then there is a good chance of treatment coverage.

WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS? Varicose veins are veins that become swollen and enlarged.  Any vein may become varicose, but it is most common in the legs and feet.  This typically is caused from standing upright for long periods of time, or a person can develop varicose veins genetically. They can be painful to some patients and may lead to further health risks like circulatory problems. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)

SYMPTOMS: When varicose veins are not painful, symptoms can include:
•Veins that are dark blue or purple in color
•Veins that appear twisted and bulging; often like cords on your legs

When painful signs do occur, they may include:
•Achy or heavy feeling in your legs
•Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
•Itching around one or more of your veins
•Skin ulcers near your ankle, which could mean you have a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)

SPIDER VEINS:  Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller.  They are found closer to the surface of the skin and are often red or blue.  They occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face.  Spider veins vary in size and often look like a spider’s web. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)

TREATMENTS: What was once thought as a cosmetic procedure is now a health related procedure. There are new treatments that can be done to get rid of venous diseases.  One treatment specifically, is performed by Dr. Joel Erickson of Sonoma Vein in Santa Rosa, California. Dr. Erickson uses an ultrasound to determine the extremity of the vein then inserts a catheter to distribute heat to eradicate the damaged vein. Dr. Erickson then goes on to instill foam to close the vein and adds a liquid to constrict it. (Source: www.sonomavein.com)

 For More Information, Contact:

Joel Erickson, MD
Interventional Cardiologist
Laser Light Treatment Center, Novato CA
(707) 953-3699 
joelerickson24@gmail.com
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