What's New from Dr. Lee

Varicose Vein Leg Pain Intensifies in Summer

While the George Gershwin song may say, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” most of our patients who have varicose veins express a different sentiment, noting that their leg pain increases during the hot summer months.

There are a couple different reasons for this. One is that the increased temperatures result in increased vasodilation, which means that the veins expand and hold more blood, intensifying pain and pressure.

Secondly, many patients are more active in the summer months, and when you spend more time on your feet, gravitational pull works against you, making it harder for blood to move up and out of your legs.
To provide short-term relief, we advise patients to find regular respite in a cool, air-conditioned location, and to elevate legs to help the blood circulate out of their legs.

For those who must be on their feet or sitting for long periods, we may recommend a combination of the following:

Leg exercises, as muscle movement helps to circulate the blood
Compression stockings to help keep the blood from pooling in legs, ankles and feet
Anti-inflammatory pain medications, such as ibuprofen
Weight loss to reduce the restriction on the venous blood flow from the legs
Dietary changes, such as reduced sodium intake
Not sitting for long periods, or crossing legs while sitting

We offer a variety of treatment options for varicose veins that can eliminate the pain and swelling, and help you get back to the activities you love.

Depending on the severity of your condition, the veins involved and their location, treatment may include laser ablation, phlebectomy, foam sclerotherapy, or a combination of these options. We’ll explain what will work best for your specific condition, so […]

Dr. Lee Discusses DVT on Western Mass News

Dr. K. Francis Lee appeared on the “Better Western Mass” show yesterday on Western Mass News, WGGB-40 to discuss the prevalence and dangers of deep vein thrombosis in recognition of March as DVT Awareness Month.
By |March 20th, 2018|What's New from Dr. Lee|

March is DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) Awareness Month

Important information about prevalence, risks and treatment
March is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month, also known as Blood Clot Awareness Month. Dr. K. Francis Lee, medical director at Advanced Vein Care Center, one of the premier treatment centers in New England for venous diseases, discussed the importance of deep vein blood clots, noting that increased awareness is needed for the public.

“Deep vein thrombosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that can happen suddenly, and it is much more common than people are aware,” said Dr. Lee. “Its incidence is not exactly known, but it is estimated to affect nearly 1 million people in the U.S. every year. Most commonly, the blood clot occurs in the leg and then may travel to the lungs and be fatal.”

In the U.S., up to 100,000 people each year die of DVT and/or blood clots to the lungs. “In other words,” said Dr. Lee, “every six minutes, someone may die of these conditions.”

Nearly half of the people who develop lower leg DVT further develop a long-term, disabling condition called post-thrombotic syndrome in which they may suffer from swollen, discolored, uncomfortable and thickened lower legs, sometimes with painful, open wounds. One in three people who develops DVT will have recurrence within the following 10 years. Studies show that people with DVT have an 80 percent higher risk of work-related disability than those without DVT.

“Anyone who has sudden pain and/or swelling in the leg must contact their primary care provider or go to the emergency department,” said Dr. Lee. “There are many medical conditions that can cause leg pain and swelling, but a potentially life-threatening blood clot or DVT must be ruled out with an ultrasound examination.”
DVT Treatment
Dr. Lee explained that not […]

Choosing the vein care center that’s right for you

Asking the right questions is key
Whether you are simply seeking treatment for unsightly spider veins, or have more serious conditions like venous insufficiency, varicose veins, blood clots in your legs or venous stasis ulcers, it’s important to ask the right questions when deciding where to go for treatment.

Insist on accreditation. Vein procedures should be performed by board certified surgeons and physicians with appropriate accreditation from the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission.

Experience counts. Effectively treating venous insufficiency, varicose veins and spider veins requires thorough knowledge of the vascular system and the skill to perform intricate procedures. Many of the veins we treat are very complex, and some procedures are extremely advanced. Precision is key to success. You should ask how much experience the surgeon has performing your procedure.

Don’t fall for false promises. Ask the surgeon about the expected outcome of your procedure, and how many treatments you may need. In our practice, we work with you to set realistic expectations and not promise more than what it is physiologically possible so you are not disappointed with the results.

Diagnosis determines treatment. Ask how the surgeon will confirm your specific condition before recommending treatment. Proper diagnosis should include an initial consultation to identify cosmetic (spider veins) versus medically necessary conditions (varicose veins and/or venous insufficiency).

If there is a medical concern, the initial evaluation is generally followed by a venous physiology ultrasound study, which should be performed by a sonographer or clinician credentialed as a registered vascular technologist. This determines how severe your condition is, what your diagnosis entails, and what treatment options are available. Following these steps will help you meet your care goals efficiently and effectively.

Technology drives results. A key component in effectively diagnosing and treating vein conditions […]

By |September 25th, 2017|What's New from Dr. Lee|

The Harm of Sitting

For some, a livelihood can be made from the strength of their bodies. Serena Williams. Michael Phelps. Usain Bolt. They worship their bodies with exercise, high-quality food, massages, and sleep. These athletes forge their bodies and skillsets into art; and we, the awe-inspired, wonder at them.

Yet for most of us, the body is not beauty, but utility.

We may pay homage to our bodies occasionally—a light jog, a weekend morning raking leaves, a walk along the beach—but these relished moments are pittances, when predominantly, we abuse our body to make ends meet.

Consider, it is Sunday night—10:30 p.m. You have indulged in apple pie à la mode, and are filing taxes. While your liver works industriously to convert excess sugar into long-term storage (fat and glycogen), the pineal gland in your brain begins to release melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone). Eyelids droop. You turn the intensity of lights up, thereby activating cells in the retina that inhibit melatonin secretion. Your body interprets that there is a reason to be awake, some danger to overcome. Cortisol (stress response hormone) is secreted, allowing you to nibble the crust of the apple pie and persevere.

Indeed, there is a certain beauty to the body’s industry, but also there are certain limits. Each day, we push these limits until the body pushes back. While prolonged standing can lead to venous dysfunctions as I’ve discussed previously, there is a danger at the other end of the spectrum: prolonged sitting.

“We have created for ourselves a modern way of living that clashes with the way we’re meant to be,” wrote Dr. James Levine,[i] the Director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, and author of “Get Up!”

The phrase has taken hold: “Sitting is the […]

By |December 11th, 2015|What's New from Dr. Lee|

The Nightmare of Leg Cramps—Chronic Pain Awareness Month

Have you ever woken at night to the debilitating, piercing pain of a leg cramp? If so, you are not alone. It’s been shown that 33.6% of the general public experience night-time muscle cramps, and as high as 50% among those with chronic venous insufficiency.1

Across the nation, the same scenario occurs each night. A calf muscle suddenly seizes. The stricken individual jolts awake and screams aloud. The disoriented spouse frantically begins to massage the muscle, as the pained individual finds a way to get up and walk around, begging the cramp to subside. Sometimes they find themselves standing on the cold tile of the bathroom as the cold sensation on the feet can sometimes coax the pain away. This nightmare occurs more than 3 times a week for 40% of vascular patients (occurring every night for 6%), according to one study.2

Night-time muscle cramps are not only common; they are complicated. There are several different causes: such as vascular diseases, over-excitable neurons, irregular endocrine or metabolic function, genetic disorders, and nutrition deficiencies. For this reason, a myriad of treatments exist, ranging from the robustly-studied neuron-stabilizing quinone, to the more holistic “spoonful of mustard” before bedtime. This complexity unfortunately means that sleep-deprived individuals with muscle cramps do not know where to turn.

One fact is clear. If you experience leg cramps and also have varicose veins, spider veins or other signs of venous insufficiency, your first step should be to seek consultation from a vein specialist.

In the past ten years, I have performed over 10,000 venous procedures for patients with a diagnosis of venous insufficiency.” My patients are often afflicted with night-time leg cramps, which reflects the established knowledge that venous disease places individuals at risk for […]

By |October 7th, 2015|What's New from Dr. Lee|

IAC Accreditation – What We Are

Feedback comes in many forms—from the mother’s lips to a child, or from a restaurant reviewer’s keyboard to a chef—but there is one thing that remains constant. Everyone needs feedback.

The more paperwork-intensive, the more people avoid it. But no matter how uncomfortable receiving feedback may be, the complete lack of it is also unnerving—we succumb to easy complacency, or worse, we doubt our work and worry: “How are we doing?”

We at Advanced Vein Care Center are proud of the work we do. Since the beginning, we’ve been committed to the highest standards of patient interaction, surgical techniques, medical equipment, complication prevention, and objective self-monitoring. But, how well are we really doing? And, how valid is our self-assessment? There was no way to answer these questions objectively by ourselves.

Hence, over a year ago, we took action to answering these questions by subjecting our quality of care to external standards. We looked for the most current and strictest standards. We began to ready ourselves for submission of application to the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) which evaluates medical practices based on personnel, facilities, process, and monitoring of quality improvement. We initiated this process all on our own, self-motivated by quality assurance and true excellence.

Then, last January, the earth shifted under the feet of vein care specialists in the state of Massachusetts. A major healthcare insurance company, the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts sent out a letter requiring that within nine months all vein care centers must be accredited by the IAC to be able to treat their patients and be reimbursed. While the rest of the world were shocked, we were elated by the news since we were well on our way to full compliance and meeting […]

By |September 17th, 2015|What's New from Dr. Lee|

Why Do Your Legs Hurt More in the Summer?

Many people ask why their legs ache more in the summer than at other times of the year. The answer involves many different factors – some apparent, some beneath the surface, just like your veins.

The first reason, I tell my patients, is daylight. The longest days in the summer (in 2015) have 15 hours and 15 minutes of sunlight. In contrast the shortest days in the winter have only 9 hours and 6 minutes of sun.1   In combination with peoples’ more active summer lifestyles—think gardening, lawnmowing, cooking, socializing at barbecue—people are simply on their feet for longer amounts of time before the sun sets. To be exact, 60% more time is spent on their feet during the summer. By the time those glorious 8pm summer sunsets arrive, gravity has caused blood to pool in the lower limbs, the sensation of achiness following.

The more overlooked reason, I tell my patients, is a fascinating phenomenon that takes place just beneath the surface, a process called vasodilation (“vaso” referring to blood vessels, and “dilation” meaning to enlarge). Vasodilation is when the size of blood vessels will increase in response to certain environmental situations, such as the hot temperature of the summer. You can see vasodilation when someone returns from summer yard work with flushed cheeks and skin.

The veins enlarge, which helps the body quite ingeniously cool itself by increasing blood flow towards the skin. Unfortunately, it may also worsen symptoms of venous insufficiency by increasing the volume of blood held in the vein—a process not fully understood by most people who are unaware of the changes their body undergoes in adapting to heat.

To fully understand vasodilation, consider the veins themselves. Veins have a thin smooth muscle layer […]

By |September 1st, 2015|What's New from Dr. Lee|

Lovely Westfield Woman’s Club

It’s been such a long, dreary, cold winter. In western Massachusetts, April can be especially more sad and bleak when the Nor’easter persists across our towns and dumps snow and icy rain with spite. So it was with great pleasure and anticipation one sunny afternoon last week that I drove to Westfield to give a talk on vein conditions and treatments. A very lovely woman named Mary Ellen Anderson from the Westfield Woman’s Club had invited me to address their members at their monthly lunch meeting.

As Melinda and I drove up to the turn-of-the-century, stately red-brick building, my first thought was what a wonderful thing a “Woman’s Club” is. In today’s crazy, busy society where most people think only of the “next thing I gotta do,” it’s so nice to meet a group of women who gather regularly to think of citizenship, charity and community. More than anything, it was a gathering of well-accomplished women to just spend time with one another, “hanging out.” They ate, drank, smiled and talked about their kids and family, and gave ear and time to one another’s life experiences, struggles and laughter. Being a surgeon who spends 10+ hours a day in fluorescent-lit exam rooms and O.R.’s, finding myself in a room full of sunshine and happy women was just a sheer delight.

After Mary Ellen introduced me to about 30 women, I took the microphone in my hand and channeled my inner Phil Donahue. I paced the dining room back and forth in my carefully chosen black suit, enlisting questions and answering them as engagingly as I could. All about the veins. […]

By |April 29th, 2014|What's New from Dr. Lee|

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Advanced Vein Care is happy to provide more information. Call our Springfield, MA office at (413) 732-4242 or fill out the form below.