pelvic congestion syndrome symptoms

Chronic Pelvic Pain: Is It Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Many women suffer from abdominal and pelvic pain for years, with little knowledge about the source of the pain and few effective treatments. 

Fortunately, we know more about the causes of pelvic pain than ever before, including the existence of a condition called pelvic congestion syndrome, also known as ovarian vein reflux. 

This condition occurs when the veins in the pelvis lose elasticity and the vein valve (which prevents blood from flowing backward) malfunctions. This causes blood to pool in the pelvic veins. 

Pelvic congestion syndrome can cause mild to severe pelvic pain that interferes with daily activities. What’s more, many studies show that PCS is the cause of up to 30% of cases of chronic pelvic pain in women. 

Learn more about pelvic congestion syndrome. 

The symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome may mimic those of other conditions, but the condition also presents many unique symptoms.

A “Dragging” Sensation in the Pelvis

One of the most common symptoms of PCS is a sensation that the pelvis and reproductive organs are being pulled downward. This is often described as a sensation of dragging or tugging inside the pelvis. 

The exact cause of the dragging sensation isn’t confirmed, but it may be attributed to the forces of gravity pulling on the distended pelvic veins. 

Pain That Worsens During Standing, Walking or Lifting

Most women with PCS find that their pelvic pain intensifies when they sit or stand for a long period of time or lift something heavy. 

Additionally, PCS pain often improves or subsides when a woman lies down.

Pain During Intercourse

A large number of women with PCS experience pain during and immediately following sexual intercourse. Pain during intercourse is a symptom of a number of women’s health conditions, so women who experience this symptom with PCS can be misdiagnosed.

Varicose Veins In Pelvis and Surrounding Areas

As the pelvic blood vessels become structurally damaged with PCS, many women notice varicosities (bulging veins) in the vulva, buttocks, hips and upper thighs. 

The veins can be unsightly and are often tender, especially after long periods of sitting, standing or walking.

Risk Factors for Developing Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Current research suggests that pregnancy is the biggest risk factor for developing PCS. Most women with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome have had multiple pregnancies. 

Increased blood flow to the uterus during pregnancy, coupled with the increase in estrogen (which causes the veins to widen) are thought to contribute to pelvic vein varicosities.

Are you suffering from the debilitating symptoms of PCS? Georgia Vascular Institute is a leading vein treatment center in Stockbridge, Georgia. 

We are proud to offer telemedicine services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fibroid Symptoms After Menopause

Why Doesn’t Menopause Cure Uterine Fibroids?

Many women who suffer from uterine fibroids expect them to disappear as menopause approaches. And while estrogen levels do decrease significantly during this time of life, a lot of women with fibroids continue to experience symptoms. 

As they approach menopause, many women wonder: does menopause cure fibroids? 

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Estrogen Levels During Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the transitional state between normal female fertility and menopause. This period of life typically occurs in a woman’s mid-to-late 40s and can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Symptoms of perimenopause are similar to those of regular menopause, but women still have a menstrual cycle during this time. 

Perimenopause can produce drastic dips and spikes in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations can influence the severity of a woman’s fibroid symptoms, leading to heavy periods, increased abdominal pain, bladder and bowel issues, backaches, constipation, and frequent urination. 

Many women with fibroid symptoms are encouraged to avoid treatment if they are approaching menopause. However, depending on the size and location of a woman’s fibroids, the estrogen spikes during perimenopause may make treatment a necessity.

Additionally, because perimenopause typically lasts around seven years, avoiding treatment can mean years of increasing discomfort and other negative side effects. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Fibroids

The approach of menopause causes a decrease in female hormones and subsequent symptoms that many women find disruptive and unbearable. Lack of female hormones can also cause bone loss, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Hormone therapy, which replaces the missing estrogen and progesterone, can help ease some of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause and prevent bone loss. 

Unfortunately, the hormones in HRT can also cause existing fibroids to grow or bleed in some women. This typically happens in the first two years of HRT therapy and levels off afterward. 

Many women opt to seek treatment for their fibroids during this time, since fertility and childbearing are no longer concerns, and they have more treatment options. 

Treatment for Uterine Fibroids

The Fibroid Center at Georgia Vascular Institute is dedicated to helping women find effective treatments for their fibroid symptoms. Whether you are in perimenopause or menopause, we offer treatments that are minimally invasive and carries few risks. 

Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that has a success rate of over 90%. The procedure works by shrinking uterine fibroids through cutting off their blood supply. During the procedure, an interventional radiologist uses fluoroscopy to guide a catheter to the blood vessels supplying uterine fibroids. He or she then injects those blood vessels with embolic agents. Over the coming months, the fibroids typically shrink significantly, and symptoms are either reduced or completely eliminated. 

Other treatment options for fibroids include radiofrequency ablation, hysteroscopic myomectomy and endometrial ablation. 

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive, uterus-sparing procedure that destroys fibroid tissue using radiofrequency energy. Endometrial ablation is also minimally invasive, but uses heat to destroy the uterine wall and lining.  

Hysteroscopic myomectomy removes fibroid tissue from the uterus without damaging healthy uterine tissue. The procedure does require local anesthesia plus a sedative or general anesthesia and is best for women who want to have children after fibroid treatment. 

Another option for fibroid removal is hysterectomy–the total surgical removal of the uterus. Heavy bleeding, caused by fibroids, is among the most common reasons women choose a hysterectomy. 

Fibroid Treatment at Georgia Vascular Institute

Are you suffering from uterine fibroids? The Fibroid Center at Georgia Vascular Institute can help you find treatment options. 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

For many women, chronic pelvic pain goes undiagnosed and untreated. Surprisingly, however, a large percentage of pelvic pain can be attributed to issues with the pelvic veins. When pelvic pain is attributed to the pelvic veins, it is known as pelvic congestion syndrome. 

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome is thought to be responsible for pelvic pain in up to 40% of women.  

What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

PCS is a chronic pain condition characterized by swollen, bulging and painful ovarian and pelvic veins, also called pelvic varicose veins.

These enlarged veins cause a number of painful symptoms that often worsen with sexual activity, lifting heavy objects, standing or walking.   

What Causes Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

When a vein valve is damaged or weakened, blood cannot flow from the vein back to the heart in an efficient manner. As a result, blood backflows and pools in the vein, causing congestion and swelling. 

When the veins in the ovaries and uterus become damaged or weakened, blood pools in the veins, causing the vein walls to become distended. This can cause severe pain and an overall feeling of heaviness in the pelvis and abdomen. 

Pelvic veins can be damaged by a number of events, including weight gain, hormonal fluctuations and multiple pregnancies. Damaged pelvic veins can become so swollen, in fact, that they press on surrounding organs, including the bladder, intestines and rectum. 

Risk Factors for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Here are the main risk factors for developing PCS:

Pregnancy. The veins in the uterus and ovaries dilate during pregnancy to accommodate a significant increase in blood flow. After a pregnancy is over, these veins don’t always return to their previous size. This can cause vein malfunction and lead to PCS. PCS is more likely in women who have experienced multiple pregnancies.

Hormonal imbalance. Excess estrogen can cause ovarian veins to widen. This can contribute to vein malfunction and congestion. 

Being of childbearing age. The majority of women diagnosed with PCS are between 20 and 45 years of age. 

Risk of developing pelvic congestion syndrome may also increase if a close family member has been diagnosed with the condition. 

Symptoms of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

The main symptoms of PCS include:

  • Pelvic pain – Pain in the pelvis, abdomen, buttocks and hips
  • Dragging sensations in the pelvis
  • Feeling of heaviness in pelvis or abdomen
  • Pelvic pain that gets worse when sitting or standing
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain in the lower back and legs

How Is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Diagnosed?

PCS is difficult to diagnose because many women (especially those who have had children) will display enlarged pelvic blood vessels on a standard ultrasound or MRI but will have no painful symptoms. Only women who have enlarged pelvic veins and chronic pelvic pain are given a diagnosis of pelvic congestion syndrome. 

In order to provide a diagnosis of PCS, your doctor will collect information about the nature and duration of your pain. For a diagnosis of PCS, pain must be present for a minimum of 6 months. 

The following tests are instrumental in helping provide a PCS diagnosis:

  • Radiological imaging
  • Blood tests
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy
  • Pelvic and transvagical ultrasound
  • Pelvic venography – This procedure involves the injection of contrast material into a vein to observe how blood flows through the vein.

Depending on the nature and severity of your pain, your doctor may recommend additional diagnostic measures. 

If ovarian varices (varicose ovarian veins) are found on radiological images or in a venogram, your doctor can recommend a minimally invasive procedure to provide pain relief. 

How Is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Treated?

If you have been diagnosed with pelvic congestion syndrome, you have more treatment options than ever before. 

One of those treatment options is a minimally invasive procedure called ovarian vein embolization. During this procedure, an interventional radiologist uses guided imaging and a catheter to place coils and embolic agents in damaged ovarian veins. Once the blood supply to these veins is closed off, blood can no longer pool in the veins. This provides relief from pain, heaviness and pressure associated with pelvic congestion syndrome. 

After ovarian veins are closed off, additional veins may also need to be treated. This is typically done at a later appointment. 

Other treatment options for pelvic congestion syndrome include hormone regulating drugs or sclerotherapy. 

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Treatment at Georgia Vascular Institute

The Vein Center at Georgia Vascular Institute is one of the premier centers for vein treatment in Stockbridge, Georgia and surrounding areas.

Dr. Kevin L. Carson and Dr. Sendhil K. Subramanian at Georgia Vascular Institute specialize in interventional radiology and the treatment of varicose veins. 

Schedule your appointment at Georgia Vascular Institute today. 

Radiofrequency Ablation for Varicose Veins at Georgia Vascular Institute

Radiofrequency Ablation for Varicose Veins

Radiofrequency ablation is a cutting-edge treatment option for painful, bulging or unsightly varicose veins. 

Painful varicose veins can make it difficult to stand for long periods of time or exercise the way you want to. Even if your veins cause no painful symptoms, they can become a serious cosmetic concern. They can cause blue, bulging masses in the legs, as well as itching and skin discoloration. 

Standard treatments for varicose veins, like compression stockings and leg elevation, may not provide the relief you need. However, vein surgery may present obstacles and risks you aren’t comfortable with. Many people worry about general anesthesia and the lengthy recovery time vein surgery requires. Others worry about infection or post-surgical pain in the affected vein. 

Fortunately, there are minimally invasive procedures that can provide relief from the pain and unsightliness of varicose veins. One of those procedures is radiofrequency ablation (RFA). 

Georgia Vascular Institute’s Vein Center specializes in radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of varicose veins. 

Here’s everything you need to know about this procedure. 

How is Radiofrequency Ablation Performed?

Radiofrequency ablation is performed using heat produced by radiofrequency. The procedure takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour, with two hours for recovery. 

On the day of your procedure, your doctor will begin by numbing the leg receiving the radiofrequency ablation energy. Once your leg is numb, your doctor will use ultrasound images to guide a catheter to your affected veins. The catheter will then distribute radiofrequency heat to the veins. 

The heat produced by the radiofrequency destroys the vein wall and effectively closes off the vein. Local anesthesia insulates the surrounding tissues from heat damage during the procedure.

Following your ablation, you’ll be able to walk immediately. You can also go home the very same day. You’ll be given a bandage to wrap the puncture site, and you’ll need to wear compression stockings for a week afterwards, but recovery time is relatively short and painless.

Learn more about this procedure at Georgia Vascular Institute. 

Why Is Radiofrequency A Good Choice?

Radiofrequency ablation closes varicose veins in nearly 90% of patients. Veins that aren’t successfully treated are either treated again, or the patient receives a recommendation for another vein surgery that is more likely to be effective. 

Additionally, RA causes little pain after the procedure. Patients can walk immediately, and rarely need time off to recover. 

RA requires very small incisions that heal quickly and cause no scarring and very little bruising afterwards.

Radiofrequency Ablation at Georgia Vascular

If you have painful, bulging varicose veins, radiofrequency ablation may provide you with relief. 

While not everyone is a candidate for the procedure, the majority of people who are good candidates will see positive results and experience no downtime. 

Not sure if you have vein disease? Take Georgia Vascular Institute’s online vein screening today. 

If you’re ready to explore radiofrequency ablation to treat chronic pain in your legs or to restore the appearance of your legs, contact Georgia Vascular Institute today. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine Fibroid Embolization Information

Uterine fibroids (also known as leiomyomas) are benign growths in the uterus that commonly affect women of childbearing age. Although the majority of fibroids are non-cancerous, they can grow large enough to cause serious issues like severe pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, bloating, urinary and bowel issues and even fertility problems. 

Traditionally, the most common treatment for fibroids was a hysterectomy, a major surgery that removes the uterus entirely. Another common treatment is a myomectomy, which removes fibroids and reconstructs the uterus. Myomectomy can cause fertility issues, especially if numerous fibroids are removed. 

Both of these surgeries require the use of general anesthesia and carry risks such as excessive bleeding and infection. As a result, many women with fibroids are searching for less invasive treatment options that don’t affect fertility, require major incisions or carry as many risks. Among those treatment options is a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization. 

The Fibroid Center at Georgia Vascular Institute offers state-of-the-art treatments for uterine fibroids, including uterine fibroid embolization. 

Here’s what you should know about this procedure. 

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Also known as uterine artery embolization (UAE), uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure that shrinks uterine fibroids by cutting off their blood supply.

During the procedure, an interventional radiologist will use a form of x-ray called fluoroscopy to guide a small catheter through the femoral artery to the blood vessels that feed uterine fibroids. 

Embolic particles are then injected through the catheter tube into the blood vessels, effectively blocking the blood supply to uterine fibroids. Without a blood supply, the fibroids shrink. 

UFE has been shown to reduce negative fibroid symptoms in the majority of women who undergo the procedure. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization and Fertility

One of the main benefits of UFE is that it preserves fertility. 

Unlike surgical interventions like hysterectomy and myomectomy, UFE requires no cutting or incisions to the uterus and does not leave problematic scar tissue that can make implantation difficult. 

As fibroids shrink following UFE, fertility may actually improve.

Risks Associated with Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Serious complications with uterine fibroid embolization are extremely rare. However, there are risks to be aware of as you move forward with the procedure. 

Rare complications associated with uterine fibroid embolization:

  • Infection in degenerating fibroid
  • Infection at the puncture site (spot where the catheter is fed into the femoral artery during the procedure)
  • Hematoma at puncture site
  • Injury to the uterus

Some women experience postembolization syndrome, which may cause nausea, pelvic cramping and fever. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization Recovery Time

Unlike surgical treatments for fibroids, UFE requires very little recovery time. 

Typically, it takes only 7 to 10 days to make a full recovery. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization at Georgia Vascular Institute

Georgia Vascular Institute in Stockbridge, GA is one of the most trusted uterine fibroid treatment centers in the state. 

Contact us today to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization or to schedule your appointment.

Uterine Fibroid FAQs and Treatment Info Blog Image

Uterine Fibroids: FAQs + Treatment Information

Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that grow on the walls of the uterus. Most of the time, fibroids don’t cause symptoms. In some cases, however, they can grow large enough to cause pain, irregular periods and even fertility problems. 

Many women with fibroids experience severe enough symptoms that they require specialized treatment.

The Fibroid Treatment Center at Georgia Vascular Institute in Stockbridge, Georgia offers multiple diagnostic and treatment options for women suffering from uterine fibroids.  

Today, we’re answering some of the most common questions patients with fibroids may have. 

What Causes Uterine Fibroids?

Fibroids are caused by a number of factors. 

Estrogen and progesterone (natural hormones that spur the development of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle) are thought to contribute to the formation of fibroids. This is because estrogen and progesterone markers are higher in fibroid tissue than in normal uterine tissue. 

Other factors, such as insulin-like growth factor, genetics, and stress, can also contribute to the growth of fibroids. 

Typically, fibroids improve after menopause, as the amount of reproductive hormones in the body naturally decreases.

Are There Different Kinds of Uterine Fibroids?

There are four types of uterine fibroids:

Intramural fibroids are the most common types of fibroids. They grow between the muscles of the uterine wall.

Suberosal fibroids develop on the muscles of the outer uterine wall. This allows them to grow outward, potentially pressing on other organs. This can cause pelvic pain and pressure and abdominal heaviness. 

Submucosal fibroids are the least common type of fibroid, developing just beneath the uterine lining and can protrude into the uterus.

Pedunculated fibroids are attached to the uterus by stalk-like growths that can sometimes become twisted. 

What Are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?

Many women with fibroids experience no symptoms and require no treatment. Sometimes, however, fibroids grow large enough to cause symptoms that interfere with a person’s life. 

The most common symptoms of fibroids include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Periods that last longer than 7 days
  • Abnormal bleeding between periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Painful intercourse
  • Frequent urination 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Pain in the bowel or rectum

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor. He or she can help you find treatment options or refer you to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of  uterine fibroids. 

Are Uterine Fibroids Cancerous?

The majority of fibroids are benign. In fact, only about 1 in 1000 fibroids is cancerous. 

When a fibroid is cancerous, it is known as a leiomyosarcoma. 

How Are Uterine Fibroids Diagnosed?

Uterine fibroids can be diagnosed through a number of tests and exams. 

Because the tumors can change the shape and size of the uterus, irregularities in the uterus can often be felt during a routine pelvic exam. 

Even if fibroids are not detectable during a pelvic exam, many women still have symptoms. In these cases, doctors may recommend other diagnostic measures, such as ultrasound and MRI, to diagnose fibroids. 

How Are Uterine Fibroids Treated?

There isn’t a single treatment for managing fibroid symptoms that works for every woman. It’s important to track your own symptoms and talk with your doctor about the best approach for you. 

Many women who are diagnosed with fibroids are scared of needing a hysterectomy to get relief from their symptoms. Fortunately, hysterectomy is no longer necessary for most women. In fact,the number of treatments developed to relieve fibroid symptoms has soared over the last few years. 

There are currently numerous other treatment options for fibroid symptoms, including:

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist – The medications work by blocking the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that contribute to the growth of fibroids. Treatment with GnRH agonists is brief. Long-term treatment can cause side effects like hot flashes and bone loss. Fibroids typically grow back quickly once treatment is stopped. Typically, GnRH medications are used to stop excessive bleeding or to shrink fibroids in preparation for surgery. 
  • Intrauterine devices that release progestin – The progestin in an IUD can help control heavy bleeding associated with fibroids. IUDs do not shrink fibroids.
  • Myomectomy – A myomectomy removes fibroid tissue from the wall of the uterus while leaving the uterus intact. Fibroid tissue is removed through a surgical incision in the lower abdomen.
  • Hysterectomy – A hysterectomy completely removes the uterus. As it is a major surgery, most women require significant downtime. 
  • Uterine fibroid embolization (also known as uterine artery embolization) – This minimally invasive, outpatient procedure can help relieve a variety of fibroid-related symptoms, including heavy bleeding and severe pelvic pain.

During a uterine fibroid embolization, a fluoroscope is used to send small particles (embolic agents) into the uterine arteries using a thin tube called a catheter. These particles block blood flow to uterine fibroids, causing them to shrink. 

UFE has a number of benefits. It doesn’t disturb the tissues of the uterus, so fertility is not affected. Additionally, fibroids don’t regrow after a UFE procedure, as they sometimes do with more invasive procedures like myomectomy.

Georgia Vascular Institute in Stockbridge is one of Georgia’s leading providers of uterine fibroid embolization. 

Dr. Kevin Carson at Georgia Vascular Institute was one of the first doctors to perform uterine fibroid embolization in the Southern Crescent. His expertise earned him the honor of being named a top doctor by his fellow physicians at Southern Regional Medical Center in 2005. 

The Fibroid Treatment Center at Georgia Vascular Institute

Are you searching for fibroid treatment in Atlanta? The Fibroid Center at Georgia Vascular Institute can help you. 

Contact us today at (770) 506-4007 to learn more about our fibroid treatments or schedule your appointment today.

Exhausted worn woman relieving symptoms of uterine fibroids after menopause.

What You Need to Know about Uterine Fibroids after Menopause

Known to develop in the uterine walls or inside the uterus, uterine fibroids are growths or tumors that, according to the UCSF Medical Center, can affect as much as 50 percent of women.

But it’s important to note that this medical condition does not disappear along with the reproductive years. In fact, women sometimes have issues with fibroids long after they begin menopause. Here are a few things you should know about uterine fibroids after menopause.

1. Uterine Fibroid Growth Tends to Stop After Menopause

Since there is a drop in estrogen levels in the body during this physiological change, uterine fibroid growth stops. In some cases, the fibroids will actually shrink and relieve some of the associated symptoms.

2. Symptoms of Fibroids Stay the Same After Menopause

No matter how old you are, the symptoms of fibroids can still be the same. You may experience things like:

  • Abdominal enlargement
  • Lower back pain
  • Bladder or bowel pressure
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Fatigue
  • In severe cases, fibroids can even cause anemia and pain in the legs.

However, some women have fibroids and never or rarely experience symptoms.

3. Hormone Replacement Therapy Can Allow Fibroids to Continue Growing       

The artificial hormones found in replacement hormones act just like estrogen in the body, which means they encourage the growth of fibroids. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about this side effect of your menopause treatment.

Overall, fibroids after menopause can still be a problematic thing, but not always and not for all women. If you are concerned about uterine fibroids after menopause, call the Georgia Vascular Institute at 770-506-4007  or click here to schedule an appointment.            

varicose veins on female leg closeup, having medical professionals question if varicose veins are dangerous.

Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?

Varicose veins affect up to 35% of people in the United States. These occur when veins close to the skin’s surface become enlarged and appear more prominent. Many people who have these are most concerned about how they make the legs appear. This makes sense since the twisted, blue or purple appearance can be a bit unpleasant when you want to wear shorts or other summer clothing.

The good news is that, for the most part, varicose veins are harmless and can go away with time and good health management. However, the reality is that for some people, varicose veins are more than just a problem in appearance. They can often indicate a serious medical issue.

We’re diving into the instances when varicose veins can become dangerous below.

When Do Varicose Veins Become Dangerous?

If you are experiencing varicose veins, it’s vital to speak with your physician to see what the issue might be. Often times varicose veins can point to more serious issues, while other times they are harmless and only a physical annoyance.

However, here are a few instances when varicose veins become dangerous and why a trip to the doctor’s office is required:

  • Pain and Aching Legs: Painful, tired, and aching legs are often caused by varicose veins. When your veins are not functioning correctly and the blood is pooling within, it can make it hard for you to feel rested and relaxed.
  • Hyperpigmentation: If varicose veins are left untreated, they can cause excess blood leaking into the leg tissues. This will lead to painful swelling, inflammation, and discolored skin.
  • Lipodermatosclerosis: Often times, varicose veins cause inflamed tissues in the leg. When they are left like this for a long period of time, the tissues then become heavy, firm, and more tender. This then makes it difficult to move or relax.
  • Phlebitis: This is an inflammation of the veins. With phlebitis, blood pools inside the veins and can clot to form a “thrombus.” These are painfully hard, yet tender, lumps in the leg.
  • Venous Leg Ulcer: Overtime, varicose veins can lead to these ulcers that cause the skin to break down and reveal flesh underneath. These ulcers only get worse over time as well.
  • Excessive Bleeding: Did you know that varicose veins tend to break down the walls of the skin over time, therefore bringing them closer to the surface of the skin? When this happens, it often leads to excessive bleeding at the smallest scratch. It only gets worse over time.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis: Caused by blood clots, physical symptoms of this are pulling sensation in the legs, nerves being pinched, increased redness, and swelling. When the blood clots travel further up the blood, it requires emergency care and can even lead to death if it is not caught quickly enough.

While for many people varicose veins are simply a nuisance and an appearance issue, it is vital you realize the dangers. Because of this, if you are bothered by varicose veins, you should make sure you mention the problem to your doctor right away so that together you can create a plan to help rid yourself of this nuisance.

If this sounds like something you should do, click here to schedule an appointment with our expert team at Georgia Vascular Institute.

Varicose veins in pregnant women. Woman sits on bed and points her finger at swollen veins.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Varicose Veins?

Up to 50 percent of American women may be affected by varicose veins at some point in their lives, according to the American College of Phlebology. Considering that varicose veins are a potential side effect of pregnancy, it’s no wonder many pregnant women commonly experience this medical issue. However, if you already have varicose veins, pregnancy can irritate and enlarge them even further.

If you’re worried about how varicose veins might affect you or a loved one during their pregnancy, keep reading below to find out more.

What are Varicose Veins?

To help understand how varicose veins affect pregnancy, it’s important to define exactly what varicose veins are. Varicose veins are twisted, swollen veins that primarily occur in the legs. Veins have one-way valves that control the direction of blood flow to the heart, so, when too much pressure is placed on veins, these valves can weaken and cause a back up in blood flow. This causes them to swell and enlarge, thus creating varicose veins.

Women can develop vulvar varicosities due to the changes in the body’s blood flow, increased blood flow in the pelvic region, and decreased blood flow from the lower extremities to the heart. As an example, hemorrhoids, a common side effect of pregnancy, are varicose veins in the rectum.

It’s important to note that every woman’s experience with varicose veins is extremely different. Some women may feel pain with their varicose veins, and some women may not even know they have them. This difference in experience is especially true for any woman who is pregnant.

Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Varicose veins affect about 10 to 20 percent of pregnant women. The good news is that they are usually harmless and shrink back down to normal size after pregnancy. There are several reasons why varicose veins occur during pregnancy: increased blood volume, the weight of the growing baby pressing on blood vessels in the pelvis, and hormone changes slowing blood flow and impacting smaller veins in the pelvis and upper legs.

The third trimester is the most common time period for varicose veins to develop since that is the time that blood flow is the most affected. In addition, hemorrhoids, a common form of varicose veins for pregnant women, increase with straining or pushing due to constipation and giving birth.

If you notice that you have varicose veins during your pregnancy, speak with your doctor. This is important, as sometimes varicose veins are a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), otherwise known as blood clots. These can be harmful to you and your baby during the pregnancy, so it’s important to discuss any risks with your provider.

How to Treat Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

If you’re a pregnant woman experiencing varicose veins, there are a few things you can do to help promote healthy circulation for your veins.

  • Stay away from wearing high heels, as these can interrupt healthy circulation for your feet and calves.
  • Don’t cross your legs while sitting.
  • Sleep on your left side to help relieve pressure on certain areas that commonly experience varicose veins.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Eat fiber if you are having issues with constipation.
  • If you’re prone to sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time, make sure to switch it up and take breaks.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Wear specific maternity support hosiery that stimulates blood flow in your legs.

If you or someone you love are experiencing varicose veins during pregnancy, the experts at Georgia Vascular Institute are here to help. Click here to schedule an appointment if you still have concerns or questions about how pregnancy affects varicose veins?.

US Marine Corps Veteran Navigates Multiple Health Issue with the Support of GVI’s Dr. Sendhil Subramanian

Not all medical success stories start with a single issue and end with a single treatment –particularly in the complex field of vascular health. A perfect example of that is Alicia Fielder, a United States Marine Corps Veteran and current Dental Assistant and Office Manager in the Brookhaven area.

Alicia had debilitating pain and swelling in her left foot that just wouldn’t go away. She visited her podiatrist regularly to receive cortisone injections. While these worked for a few days at a time, her nagging pain would always return.

Alicia and her podiatrist finally decided to take an x-ray to see if they could uncover the source of the problem. When the x-ray returned, Alicia’s podiatrist knew they were dealing with something more significant. Alicia was then recommended to Dr. Sendhil K. Subramanian of Georgia Vascular Institute (GVI).

From there, her story of pain and swelling finally began to change. However, it would still take many steps and complications before Alicia found relief.

The Diagnosis

Through an ultrasound in her first appointment, Dr. Subramanian and GVI discovered Alicia had May-Thurner Syndrome. A medical condition that causes a compression in the veins of the pelvis which can prevent the proper flow of blood back to the heart. This can result in severe swelling and pain in the leg (s) and can cause blood clots.

Luckily for Alicia, she had one of the best physicians in the field supporting her.

“Dr. Subramanian saved my life, plain and simple,” Alicia reported. “I truly believe he was my Godsend. His level of high-quality patient care is just out of this world. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been in the medical field for 33 years. There’s no one better than him at what he does.”

Once they had a diagnosis, Dr. Subramanian recommended putting a stent in Alicia’s veins to get the blood flowing properly again. The first stent was placed on May 6th, 2015. For more than a year, she felt better.

The Swelling Returns

Unfortunately, things began to regress in July 2016, when Alicia and her husband took their grandchildren to Disney World. After a six-hour car drive, Alicia’s leg and foot were so swollen she couldn’t even bend her toes.

“Back when I first met Dr. Subramanian, he gave me his cell phone number,” Alicia explained. “The two of us would text and call each other if he needed to check up on me or if I had a medical question. You just don’t get that level of care anymore. I called him in Orlando, and he asked me to head to the emergency room just to make sure everything was okay.”

However, the staff at the emergency room couldn’t find anything majorly wrong, like a blood clot. She was released, but things began to get worse when Alicia couldn’t get a single drop of blood out of her finger to check her blood sugar levels. After their vacation, Alicia went right to Dr. Subramanian for another scan and blood work.

The diagnosis hit Alicia hard: polycythemia vera, a slow-growing blood cancer in which bone marrow creates too many red blood cells. As someone who had already beaten ovarian cancer, Alicia knew this would be hard to overcome.

More Stents

While this diagnosis allowed Alicia to start a treatment plan for her polycythemia, there was still the unresolved issue of her leg swelling. Dr. Subramanian decided to put in two more stents in hopes that it would allow blood to flow properly.

After completing this next procedure, the team quickly realized that the flow through stents was still too sluggish due to the thickness of Alicia’s blood despite being on blood thinners.

After consulting with a hematologist, the solution came in the form of stronger blood thinners, which reduced the swelling in Alicia’s leg by 50 percent. From there, continual use of a leg pump was able to get the rest of the swelling down over the next month.

One Last Hurdle

Just a few months later in October 2016, Alicia experienced extreme groin pain, and her leg swelled back up while she was at work. She called Dr. Subramanian right away and got an appointment for that afternoon to come back into the GVI office.

Dr. Subramanian was able to immediately identify the problem — Alicia’s stents became narrowed. Dr. Subramanian performed a balloon procedure on the stents that day, and again in a few months’ time.

Finally, Alicia was able to find sustained relief.

“It’s currently 2018, and I’ve not used my leg pump in four months. For the first time in three years, I finally have two ankles again. You really take those things for granted when they’re taken away from you,” Alicia said.

Alicia’s progress continues to hold strong thanks to her treatment with GVI and regular check-ups to see Dr. Subramanian. She is able to return to her work as a Dental Assistant and Office Manager, enjoying travel with her husband of 25 years, and spending time with her five children and seven grandchildren.

Georgia Vascular Institute’s goal is to provide our patients with the best and most comprehensive care available. If you would like to meet with Dr. Subramanian to fix another vascular health medical issue you may have, either call us at 770-506-4007 or click here to schedule an appointment.