“Vein disorders are common in our community,” Dr. Aaron Thompson told me, “and many patients come to me because the problem has become painful or unsightly. Many patients have had varicose veins for some time, maybe without uncomfortable symptoms. For many, wearing shorts or swimsuits isn’t fun, but they want to be able to do so without feeling bad about themselves. We treat veins exclusively, and at our center we have performed over 6,000 vein procedures. We are the only clinic truly dedicated to the treatment of venous insufficiency in the Hickory area.”
WHAT ARE VEIN PROBLEMS?
Varicose vein treatments have greatly improved over the last 15 to 20 years. In the past, the procedure required vein stripping, general anesthesia, and a hospital stay. A catheter would be inserted from an incision in the ankle to the groin. “The current, minimally invasive techniques that I use are virtually pain-free and are performed in my office,” Dr. Thompson said. “Typically, patients have little or no pain, bruising, or discomfort and can return to work that day.” Dr. Thompson rarely prescribes anything stronger than Tylenol or Advil.
When venous disease causes the internal walls of leg veins to deteriorate, the vein valves become defective and don’t work properly. When this happens, either in deep or superficial veins, blood starts to flow backward and is directed to the ankles by gravity. This is called reflux. As compensation for the increased pressure, the veins become enlarged. That is what causes problems and disfigurement.
Varicose vein symptoms include enlarged, visible veins usually in the lower legs, pain and fatigue in the legs, swollen ankles and calves, burning, itching, or discolored skin, and leg ulcers. Spider veins may be the only apparent symptom in less severe cases. There is an increased chance of deep vein thrombosis with severe varicose veins. DVT is a serious condition that can cause sudden, severe leg swelling. Getting immediate medical attention is critical.
While spider veins are mostly a cosmetic concern, varicose veins can lead to other conditions and be painful and debilitating. Without treatment, they can become ulcerated and at risk for dangerous infection. Early, effective treatment, before complications occur, is recommended.
Diagnostic tools have improved, as well. After a brief physical exam and history, a duplex ultrasound exam that requires little more than passing a hand-held ultrasound transducer over the skin will be done. This 10-minute exam gives an image that allows Dr. Thompson to time how long it takes for blood to flow in the right direction.
TREATMENT OF CHOICE
Dr. Thompson combines the knowledge he has gained through years of study, his experience treating diseases of the veins, performing surgery, state-of-the-art equipment, advanced technologies, and a professional medical team to help patients feel good about their body and enjoy pain-free, day-to-day living. After diagnosing the problem, from unsightly spider veins to the most complex cases of varicose veins, Dr. Thompson then develops a personalized treatment plan for each patient’s unique condition.
New, non-invasive, highly effective treatments for these conditions are readily available at The Center for Advanced Vein Care. Non-thermal ablation, mechanochemical ablation, and cyanoacrylate glue have been shown to improve the quality of life of patients and are comfortable for the patient. “We are beginning to use cyanoacrylate injections to treat varicose veins with excellent results,” Dr. Thompson explained. “This new procedure seals the vein off and shuts it down so that blood is re-routed through other healthy veins in the leg. It’s an easy, in-office, half-hour procedure that requires no anesthesia and has a 95% success rate.”
Foam sclerotherapy was developed in 1942, and the current advancements and cutting-edge methods since then are achieving long-term cure of varicose veins. Dr. Thompson uses ultrasound imaging to guide injections of very small bubbles into the main surface veins. “The bubbles adhere to the inside of the vein wall and this closes the vein. Foam sclerotherapy eliminates the need for surgical methods,” he told me.
Thermal ablation uses a thin, flexible catheter inserted into a leg vein. Heat is directed through a catheter to close the targeted vessel. Similarly, laser treatment sends out laser energy or radio frequency energy that kills the diseased portion of the vein, and the vein closes off. These treatments shut down the problem veins but leave them in place so there is minimal bleeding and bruising.
Risk factors for getting venous disease are pregnancy, genetics or family history, and trauma, such as fractures or leg injuries. Follow-up for most vein procedures is wearing compression stockings for a couple of weeks and an office visit in about three weeks. With no down time, no pain medications, the ability to walk out of the office after a brief procedure and continue with your regular work and activities, seeking treatment for varicose or spider veins is really a no-brainer. Most insurance plans and Medicare will cover these medical treatments.
Reduction in the veins on the back of the hands might leave them looking older than they really are. Dermal fillers can be injected to help make the reduction less apparent and renew the hands’ youthful look.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 30 million people in the United States have some form of chronic venous disease. The prevalence of CVD is ten times that of blocked arteries in other parts of the body. The direct cost of treating venous disease nationwide is $3 billion each year. Without treatment, varicose veins will not go away, and more likely, will progress and worsen over time. When this happens, such as in the case of severe varicose veins, the deep vein system may also become damaged and ineffective. Dr. Thompson offers periodic free screenings, along with a short lecture and further testing to help his patients prevent, reduce, or remove blemishes and bulging veins, improve their health, and enhance their appearance.
“It’s hard to predict who will develop varicose veins, but family history is a very significant factor,” Dr. Thompson said. “More women than men develop them and people over 50 tend to be more susceptible; however, we do see patients from 16 to 85-years-old in our practice. Obese people and workers who spend long hours standing, like teachers, nurses, and flight attendants, are more predisposed to develop the condition.” Walking is a good activity for everyone, and it can help keep the calf muscles working properly, and hopefully, lessen the possibility of vein disorders. Compression stockings may be recommended at various levels, such as while on your feet for long periods at work, while shopping, or on long car or plane rides, to keep legs healthy.
EASY AND CONVENIENT
Dr. Thompson opened his clinic in 2001 to provide a local, state-of-the-art location so patients wouldn’t need to go out of town for treatment. His dedicated team of medical professionals is the heart of the practice. Together, they make certain that patients are seen quickly, treated with courtesy and respect, and experience satisfactory, effective health care.
If you or someone you care about has concerns about varicose veins, spider veins, or any symptoms, call The Center for Advanced Vein Care. Taking care of your health earlier, not later, is always the best decision. Let Dr. Thompson and his team keep you healthy, comfortable, and more attractive.
The Center for Advanced Vein Care
1899 Tate Boulevard, Suite 2109
Hickory, North Carolina 28602