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Discussing Vein Issues with Dr. Heller

August 24, 2018
Do your legs feel oddly heavy, painful, or itchy? Vein problems could be the underlying cause of your symptoms. Dr. Jennifer Heller, Director of the Vein Center at GBMC, talked with Good Morning Maryland’s Ashley James about the symptoms and treatments for varicose veins.

“Veins have a difficult job,” said Dr. Heller. “They bring blood from the feet and legs back up to the heart and lungs using valves to push the blood upward against gravity. If the valves don’t close all the way, the extra blood falls back into the legs and pools, putting stress on the veins and creating varicose veins.”

The symptoms of this common condition include achiness, heaviness, itching, and fatigue in the legs. What puts you at greater risk of varicose veins? There are a number of factors, including being female (though many men also have varicose veins), multiple pregnancies, getting older, and a family history of varicose veins.

Dr. Heller explained that if you have varicose veins but aren’t experiencing any symptoms, you don’t need to seek treatment. Your first stop for an assessment should be with your primary care physician to determine what’s causing any symptoms you experience. If your doctor thinks varicose veins may be the culprit, he or she can refer you to a vein specialist for a more in-depth evaluation. If you are experiencing symptoms, getting an assessment and treatment is important. If you don’t get treatment, you may develop phlebitis or thickening and hardening of the skin near the affected veins.

“Treatment for varicose veins has come a long way in the last 15 years,” added Dr. Heller. “Most patients can walk in for treatment and walk out a few hours later. It’s not particularly painful and patients don’t need prescription pain medication after treatment. In fact, many of my patients say they feel immediate relief from their symptoms.”
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