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The veins and arteries are your body’s highways that allow blood to flow efficiently from your heart to every other region of the body and back again. You can experience trouble if your blood is unable to flow smoothly. Many vascular conditions can be treated without surgery, but you may need to be examined by a surgeon in Barron to determine the best option for you. The two most common conditions are peripheral artery disease and varicose veins.
PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE
Peripheral artery disease, also called peripheral arterial disease, is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. When you develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), your extremities — usually your legs — don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking.
- Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs (claudication)
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
- Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won't heal
- A change in the color of your legs
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
- Slower growth of your toenails
- Shiny skin on your legs
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
If medications and lifestyle changes do not provide symptom relief or stop the progression, you may need to be examined by a surgeon to discuss minimally-invasive procedures, such as:
- Angioplasty. In this procedure, a small hollow tube (catheter) is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. There, a small balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to reopen the artery and flatten the blockage into the artery wall, while at the same time stretching the artery open to increase blood flow. Your doctor may also insert a mesh framework called a stent in the artery to help keep it open. This is the same procedure doctors use to open heart arteries.
- Bypass surgery. Your doctor may create a graft bypass using a vessel from another part of your body or a blood vessel made of synthetic fabric. This technique allows blood to flow around — or bypass — the blocked or narrowed artery.
- Thrombolytic therapy. If you have a blood clot blocking an artery, your doctor may inject a clot-dissolving drug into your artery at the point of the clot to break it up.
Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins. Any vein may become varicose, but the veins most commonly affected are those in your legs and feet. For many people, varicose veins and spider veins — a common, mild variation of varicose veins — are simply a cosmetic concern. For other people, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort.
- Veins that are dark purple or blue in color
- Veins that appear twisted and bulging; often like cords on your legs
- An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
- Muscle cramping, burning, throbbing or swelling in your lower legs
- Itching around one of your veins
- Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
- Bleeding from varicose veins
- Skin ulcers near your ankle
Try these self-care options first to ease varicose vein pain or stop varicose veins from worsening:
- Losing weight
- Wearing looser clothing
- Elevating your legs
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time.
- Wearing compression stockings
If you're concerned about how your veins look and feel, and self-care measures haven't stopped your condition from getting worse, see your doctor.
You may have heard stories from the past about vein stripping or other invasive treatments for varicose veins. These treatments required a long recovery time and left long scars on the legs. Technology has advanced, and there are many minimally-invasive treatment options that can make a difference with little to no downtime or scarring, including:
- Ablation and laser surgeries In this treatment, your provider will use heat or light to damage the vein, collapse and fade away.
- Sclerotherapy. In this treatment, your provider injects a solution into the vein, causing it to collapse.
- Stab avulsion phlebectomy. In this procedure, your surgeon makes tiny incisions directly over a large varicose vein and removes the vein in specific sections. The incisions are usually less than a half centimeter and you will have very little or no pain.
The process of destroying the veins with these techniques begins immediately, and most people see full results in about two months. After the treatment, your blood circulation is not reduced because it already has been rerouted to other healthy veins nearby.