Dr. Stephen Kitchen has been treating patients with vein disease since 1995. During his career, the physician has become well-accustomed to treating a number of ailments, particularly chronic venous disease.
This is a common disorder that affects the veins of the legs. These veins carry blood from the legs to the heart. Normal veins have a series of valves that open and close to direct blood flow from the surface of the legs to the deep leg veins, from which calf muscles pump blood back to the heart. The valves also control the pressure in smaller veins on the legs’ surface.
If the valves within the veins fail to work properly, blood can flow backwards in the veins and pool in the legs. The pooled blood can increase pressure in the veins. This can cause problems that range in severity from mild (such as a feeling of leg heaviness, aching, or dilated or unsightly veins) to severe (such as swelling of the leg, ankles or feet, skin color changes, skin rash on the leg, recurrent skin infections, and chronic ulcers). If any of the symptoms sound familiar, underlying vein disease may be the source of your discomfort.
“Identifying vein disease is easy, providing we do an ultrasound,” Dr. Kitchen says.
Dr. Kitchen can diagnose chronic venous disease by examining a person for signs and asking about symptoms of the disorder, such as the presence of varicose veins, swelling in the legs, skin changes, or skin ulcers. Additional testing, which includes an ultrasound, can also allow a look at vein valve function and identify if the problem is located in the superficial veins.
“Most vein disease is a result of genetics. You inherit the genetic fibers that make up a vein wall from your parents, and that, in combination of lifestyle, activity, and occupation, will contribute, but that doesn’t mean someone has to live with bad veins forever,” Dr. Kitchen says.
Treatments can include compression stockings, elevation, anti-inflammatory medication, or surgery. If surgery is required, modern techniques that incorporate endovenous ablation, laser treatment, and radio frequency, such as the ClosureFast procedure that Dr. Kitchen performs at his office are minimally invasive, unlike the vein stripping done decades ago.
The ClosureFast procedure is performed on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic. Ultrasound is used to position a catheter into the diseased vein through a small opening in the skin. The small catheter delivers heat to the vein wall, causing it to shrink and the vein to seal closed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will reroute itself to other healthy veins. Following the procedure, a simple bandage is placed over the insertion site, and additional compression may be provided to aid healing.
“Patients come into the office, have it done, and walk out. Patients are encouraged to walk, and to refrain from extended standing and strenuous activities for a period of time. The average patient typically resumes normal activities within a few days,” Dr. Kitchen says.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, call the office at 912-265-0492.