physician search
patient portal
career opportunities
our locations
online bill pay

Advanced Treatment for Varicose and Spider Veins 

Ugly, bulging veins. It’s something no woman wants to experience. But varicose veins, the enlarged blue, red or flesh colored veins that appear twisted on the leg are very common. In fact, and estimated 50 percent of women have some signs of varicose or spider veins. Most often these veins are found on the backs of the calves, thighs or inside the leg. Sometimes they can be swollen and even raised on the skin.

Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller. They’re close to the skin’s surface, and may look thin and wispy like spider webs or like tree branches. These veins are often red or blue and have short, jagged lines and can cover a small or very large area on the legs. 

What’s the cause? 

Damaged or weak valves in the veins are to blame. The veins in your legs are responsible to carry blood throughout the body back to the heart, working against gravity to push blood up from the lower body. Veins have valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards as it travels up your legs. When the valves become weak, blood can leak back and pool in the legs.  

Varicose veins and spider veins often run in families – and there may be a hereditary component. So why does it happen? There several factors that may contribute to the problem including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Aging, standing or working on your feet, obesity and leg injury may also lead to the condition. 

Most varicose and spider veins appear because of pressure on the body – sometimes from extra body weight (like during pregnancy), making the job of carrying blood from the bottom of the body to the heart more difficult. The veins in a leg have the most difficult job and endure the most pressure. It’s very common for women to develop varicose veins during pregnancy. Changes in hormones and blood volume can cause veins to enlarge, in addition to the extra weight. Some women see improvement after delivery, but women who have multiple pregnancy may see veins that don’t go back to normal. 

How do you treat bulging or spider veins?  

USA Special Procedures group specializes in all aspects of vein disease – from tiny spider veins to large bulging varicose veins. Our innovative, nonsurgical approach lets us treat the entire spectrum of venous disease. All procedures are performed by highly trained and experience board certified vascular surgeons. Our treatments include: 

Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) – With EVLT, the surgeon uses small optic fiber inserted into the damaged vein, and a highly-concentrated beam of light is emitted through the fiber. The procedure is performed under ultrasound guidance, giving the surgeon a clear view of your veins, ensuring safety and accuracy. The tissue reacts with the light, causing the vein to close and seal shut. The blood automatically reroutes to healthier veins. Some people experience soreness or slight swelling, but it’s easily treated with over-the-counter pain medications and quickly subsides. This minimally invasive procedure only requires local anesthetic to numb the area where the physician is working. Patients are encouraged to walk immediately and can resume normal activities the same or next day. 

Stab Phlebectomy – Also called ambulatory phlebectomy, this technique uses tiny incisions made over the problem veins, and then the vein is removed in small sections. These incisions are so small (usually less than half a centimeter) that they don’t generally require stitches to properly heal. Pads are used to absorb fluids, and a bandage is applied to the treated area. 

Sclerotherapy - One option for treatment is sclerotherapy, a procedure that involves using a fine needle to inject a solution directly into the vein. This substance irritates the vein lining, causing the vein to swell and the blood to clot. This turns into scar tissue and generally fades away. Learn more about sclerotherapy here. 

Radio Frequency Ablation – This minimally invasive varicose vein treatment uses radio frequency energy or electricity to heat, collapse and seal off specific blood vessels. It’s also a treatment for venous reflux disease, the root cause of varicose veins and tired, achy legs. Under ultrasound guidance, a thin catheter is inserted into the affected vein without incisions and delivers the energy directly to the vein wall. This causes the collagen in the vein wall to shrink and the vein to close. Blood automatically begins flowing through nearby veins. The procedure usually takes less than an hour and is performed with local anesthesia. Most people see quick improvement in their symptoms, and are encouraged to walk but avoid intense physical activity for seven days. 

What if it’s more than just unsightly veins? 

Varicose and spider veins aren’t pretty, but vein problems can also signal something more serious. That’s why it’s so important to seek treatment from advanced vein specialists who can treat the full range of conditions and possible underlying health problems. You should see a doctor for your varicose veins when: 

  • One of the veins begins to bleed 
The skin on your calf or ankle changes color or becomes thick

  • Your ankles are swollen at the end of the day

  • Veins become red, swollen or are warm tender to the touch
You have a rash or sores on your leg or ankle 
  • You have 
pain in the lower leg or ankle
Itching, numbness, tingling, cramping or burning occurs in the legs or feet
Leg cramps wake or keep you up at night, or you're diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome 
  • Symptoms are interfering with daily living or exercise

Every patient is unique, and so is every treatment plan. Your USA Vascular surgeon will tailor a treatment plan to your needs and condition, and it may include a combination of treatments to give you the best possible results. We want to improve your health and restore your active lifestyle. Call today to schedule a consultation at (423) 267-0466. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: vascular

Hemorrhoids Q & A

May 11th, 2017

Hemorrhoids. Burning, itching and pain around the anus. If you’ve ever experienced these symptoms, you know how distracting and uncomfortable they can be. Read on to learn about the symptoms, causes, treatments and ways to avoid them altogether! 

Q: How do I know if I have hemorrhoids?  

A: Symptoms of hemorrhoids include irritation, pain and/or extreme itching around the anus. There can be itchy or painful lumps or swelling, along with fecal leakage, painful bowel movements and blood after a bowel movement. If you’re living with some or all of these irritations, you’re not alone – a surprising number of people are suffering. Around 1 in 20 Americans have the condition, and your risk increases as you grow older. And according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, nearly half of people age 50 or better are living with this painful problem. 

Q: What’s the difference between internal and external hemorrhoids? 

A: The difference is what you’d expect from their names – internal hemorrhoids are inside the anal canal, and external hemorrhoids occur right at the anal opening. Internal hemorrhoids are far enough inside your body that you usually can’t see or feel them, and bleeding might be the only sign you have them. They don’t cause much pain because there are few pain-sensing nerves inside the rectum. 

External hemorrhoids are covered in skin around the anus, and there are many more pain-sensing nerves in this area. That’s why they hurt in addition to bleeding. 

Sometimes hemorrhoids can prolapse (or get bigger and come out of the anus). This type is more likely to hurt, especially when you have a bowel movement. Prolapsed hemorrhoids frequently go away on their own. If they don’t, they can often be pushed back into place. 

Q: What’s the cause? 

A: If your parents had hemorrhoids, you’re more likely to have them too. In general, hemorrhoids are triggered by swelling – when pressure in your lower rectum affects blood flow, making the veins swell. The swelling can be caused by several factors: 

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy 
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Holding your breath while lifting something heavy, or staining when you do something that’s physically difficult
  • Eating a low-fiber diet
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Pushing during bowel movements or straining on the toilet 

Sneezing, coughing and vomiting can also make hemorrhoids worse. 

Q: Are hemorrhoids dangerous? 

A: We’ve painted a bleak picture of hemorrhoids, and they can be pretty miserable. But there is an upside! Hemorrhoids aren’t likely to cause you any direct harm. Only when you have excessive bleeding (which happens in rare cases) that leads to anemia, are hemorrhoids a cause of serious concern. 

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk with your doctor. Because you can’t see for sure if internal hemorrhoids are the cause of bleeding, people with blood in their stool or new bleeding should share this information with a healthcare professional in case it is something more serious. So skip the urge to grab an over-the-counter treatment and ignore the pain. One thing you can do to bring quick relief: soak in a warm bath to soothe irritation. Wiping with witch hazel may also help. 

Q: How can I keep this from happening to me? 

A: Start by examining your toilet habits. If you’re spending long periods of time reading or playing on your phone while you’re on the toilet, this little habit could be bad for your bottom. When you’re on the toilet, your cheeks are spread causing pressure to increase on anal tissue. People with constipation often fall into this trap – they sit and strain for long periods of time trying to get bowels to move. The best way to get things going again is to stay hydrated and eat enough fiber. Fiber helps water bind to stool, making it softer and allowing it to pass without trauma. You can meet your daily fiber needs with a fiber supplement or by incorporating foods like oatmeal, prunes, beans, spinach, and kiwi into your diet.  

Although rare, serious hemorrhoids may need to be removed. Surgeons use a number of simple techniques to address the problem, but recovery can be uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to try all other options first. For more information or to schedule a consultation with one of the surgeons at University Surgical Associates, please call (423) 267-0466.  

We all have occasional upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea. But for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the discomfort and chronic pain can dominate their whole life. Cramping, bloating and the immediate need to be near the bathroom can lean many people to give up or put off activities they enjoy because of their unpredictable symptoms. And because symptoms don’t “show” on the outside, it can be difficult for family and friends to understand what’s happening – and that in many cases, that it’s out of your control. 

Understanding the Symptoms

An estimated one in six Americans – and twice as many women as men – has IBS. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, people with the condition routinely experience bloating, gas, constipation, alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, bowel movements that are difficult to pass or feel uncomfortably urgent, or include a clear or white mucus in the stool. Many people who have these symptoms also experience nausea, heartburn, or acid reflux; anxiety; depression; discomfort or loss of appetite; and relief from symptoms that usually occurs after using the bathroom normally for several days. 

IBS symptoms vary a lot from person to person and tend to come and go with stress and other lifestyle changes. Each person’s experience with IBS is a bit different, and certain symptoms often seem to be stronger or more frequent than others. That’s why it’s important to keep a food and symptom journal – to help you identify when symptoms flare up and what could be the root cause. 

What is Causing this Pain? 

People living with IBS are generally more sensitive to what’s happening in their gut, and feel pain from gas and other movements that might not bother others. It’s a functional disorder, meaning there’s a problem in the way a normal bodily function is carried out – not caused from something foreign in your body, like a virus. IBS isn’t contagious, cancerous or inherited, and symptoms begin before the age of 35 in half of all cases. It occurs when the muscles in your colon used to squeeze and push stool through don’t function properly. Muscles can contract too quickly (leading to diarrhea), or too slowly (causing constipation). 

There are several suspected causes of IBS, although the direct cause of the condition is unknown. A course of antibiotics, emotional distress, or another GI illness can lead to IBS, and it’s suggested that IBS can develop after episodes of gastroenteritis. Food sensitivities or dietary allergies are also potential causes, although this hasn’t been proven. Many people find that symptoms worsen with stress or during menstruation. 

Getting a Diagnosis 

IBS is a difficult condition to identify because there are many overlapping symptoms that are also indicative of other stomach issues. From a doctor’s standpoint, IBS is diagnosed when a cluster of symptoms occurs together and last for at least several months. When looking for IBS, your doctor will likely perform tests to rule out other medical problems, including x-rays of the small intestine, a CT scan, an endoscopy or a colonoscopy. These tests, combined with your medical history and a physical exam are used to make a diagnosis. Unfortunately, there’s no definitive study that can confirm it

Self-Care and Therapy: Managing Symptoms 

Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress. Others will need medication and counseling. Here are few ways you can manage symptoms. 

What you eat matters. One way to promote a healthy digestive tract is to add fiber to your diet. It promotes regular bowel movements, which reduces constipation. Be careful to add fiber slowly, because it could initially worsen symptoms until your body adjusts. Foods with soluble fiber that what’s found in oats, beans, barley, apples, carrots, peas and citrus fruits are good choices. Certain foods can aggravate IBS symptoms, including caffeinated drinks, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed foods such as chips and crackers, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Lactose intolerance is often mistaken for IBS, so you can also try cutting out all dairy for 2 weeks to see if symptoms improve. 

Control your stressors. Stress doesn’t actually cause IBS, but it can make symptoms worse. Anxiety and stress may make the mind more aware of spasms in the colon, or be triggered by the immune system which is also affected by stress. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, getting adequate rest, as well as relaxation therapy, mindfulness training and cognitive behavioral therapy are all great ways to help keep stress at bay. 

Get moving. It may seem like exercise is the prescription for many health conditions, and it is! Regular aerobic exercise – like biking or jogging – could reduce your symptoms of IBS and help you stay at a healthy weight. Exercise has been shown to make the muscles in the colon work better and help gas move through your gut faster – leading to less frequent symptoms. 

If symptoms persist after you’ve made these lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of these drugs to provide relief: 

  • diarrhea medications to reduce frequency and urgency of bowel movements
  • gut antispasmodic medicines to reduce muscle contractions and slow the movement of food in your intestines
  • laxatives to loosen stools to relieve constipation
  • nerve pain medications to block pain caused by damaged nerves
  • antibiotics to stop or kill growing bacteria

If you suspect you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, don’t self-diagnose. It's also important to remember that blood in the stool, weight loss, fever and constant pain are not symptoms of IBS. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.