Varicose Veins: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

Understanding Varicose Veins.

About 55 percent of American women suffer from some sort of venous disorder, with varicose veins topping the list. Varicose veins occur when damaged or weakened valves fail to do their job: keep blood flowing back to the heart. Healthy valves accomplish this task, even against gravity, by opening and closing tightly. But when valves aren’t working correctly, some blood leaks backward and pools in the legs, straining the walls of the veins. Results range from the merely unsightly to the uncomfortable, including feelings of pain, cramping, leg heaviness and fatigue.

In some cases, changes in the skin, and even leg ulcers, may develop. Family history, multiple pregnancies, occupations requiring long periods of standing, obesity and age can all contribute to the condition. While rarely a threat to your health, varicose veins will not go away by themselves and if left untreated, generally worsen over time. Fortunately, a variety of approaches  and therapies are available to get you back on your feet quickly. Chief among them, two outpatient procedures, called sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can relieve the pain safely and effectively and restore a healthier appearance, more quickly and easily than ever before.


Physician Profile

 As a vascular surgeon at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, Misaki Kiguchi, MD, MSc, MBA, specializes in the treatment of both arterial and venous diseases. Her training spans the spectrum of both diseases, including clinical expertise in aortic aneurysm repair, carotid artery disease management, peripheral arterial and venous disease management, which includes varicose veins. Dr. Kiguchi enjoys the long-term relationships she builds with her patients, but it is the technical aspects of vascular procedures that drew her to this specialty.

“Vascular disease is chronic, and patients rely on an ongoing relationship with me, their cardiologist, and primary care provider to keep their disease at bay,” says Dr. Kiguchi.

Caring for patients with life-threatening vascular conditions, and performing cosmetic surgical procedures are both equally satisfying for Dr. Kiguchi. 

"If I am able to improve a patient's quality of life because I'm able to help their cosmetic veins, then I am happy to provide the services, " she adds.

Read more about how the new, less invasive treatments helped one of Dr. Kiguchi's patients in this Center Scope article

Dr. Kiguchi has office hours in Washington, DC and Chevy Chase, MD.

Have any questions?

We are here to help! Contact us for more information about varicose veins or to schedule an appointment. Call us at 202-877-3627.

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Life’s Pleasures Restored Post Peripheral Vascular Disease

Debilitating Leg Pain from Peripheral Vascular Disease Gone after Minimally Invasive Surgery

A leisurely walk along a fishing pier on a recent vacation with his wife would not have been possible for Kevin Dougherty earlier this year. That’s because the 62-year-old retiree was experiencing claudication—or too little blood flow—in his right leg, which in turn caused pain and cramping when Kevin walked even very short distances.

A lifelong smoker who had previously undergone a carotid endarterectomy for plaque build-up and blockage in the carotid artery in his neck, Kevin Dougherty knew the underlying cause of his constant leg pain was likely peripheral vascular disease (PVD). The potentially serious but treatable circulation problem occurs when the vessels that supply blood flow to the legs are narrowed. PVD is typically caused by atherosclerosis, or plaque build-up inside the vessel walls.

Kevin, despite living in Bethany Beach, Del., knew exactly who he wanted to treat his condition—Edward Woo, MD, an internationally known surgeon who leads the vascular surgery program at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. Kevin met Dr. Woo during a previous procedure, while they were both living in Pennsylvania. In fact, Dr. Woo’s brother repaired Kevin’s congenital heart valve defect years earlier.

After confirming peripheral vascular disease with diagnostic testing, Dr. Woo brought Kevin to MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Here, he placed stents, or thin, wire mesh tubing, to help keep the vessel open in Kevin’s right upper leg. The blockage was reached through a small puncture in the groin area. The same-day procedure in March allowed Kevin to walk out of the hospital with less pain and cramping than when he walked in.

“A lot of people may be experiencing leg pain and not know the cause of it,” explains Dr. Woo. “If you have any concerns, it is important to talk to your doctor or make an appointment to see a vascular specialist. Without treatment, severe PVD can lead to worsening conditions, including dead tissue, gangrene, and even possible amputation
of a limb.”

Kevin is grateful for both Dr. Woo’s care and expertise. “The amount of respect I have for Dr. Woo and his staff is immeasurable,” he says. “He is an amazing doctor, and I would recommend him to anyone.”

“My right leg feels great,” he adds. “Before, I couldn’t even walk a block. Now I can walk a half mile or more, and I try my best to keep up with my six grandchildren.”

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute currently has a team of experienced vascular surgeons and physicians at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of peripheral vascular disease (see box at right), schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at 202-877-3627.

Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) Include:

  • A change in color or temperature  of the limbs
  • Pain or cramping in the legs when walking or at rest
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • A new, long-lasting sore in the foot or leg
  • Diminished pulses in the legs and feet
  • Thickened, opaque toenails

You may be at risk for vascular disease if you:  

  • Are age 50 to 80
  • Smoke
  • Have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Have a history, or family history, of heart disease
  • Are obese or physically inactive

To detect the Peripheral Vascular Disease early, MedStar Health has partnered with Dare to C.A.R.E. to offer FREE vascular screenings. Screenings are quick and pain-free, using ultrasound technology. Schedule your screening today, at 410-573-9483 ext. 202 or 203.


Have Any Questions?

We're here to help! Contact us for more information about PVD or to schedule an appointment with a specialist. Call us at 202-877-3627.

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