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A New Orleans Vein Treatment Specialist Answers Questions about Superficial Thrombophlebitis, and Wh

Vein disease tends to be caused either by insufficiency (in which venous valves become “leaky” and cause blood to flow improperly), or thrombosis (in which blood clots or thrombi form on the inner walls of your veins). If you have been reading the articles we’ve made available on our website, you probably know that a common result of insufficiency is varicose veins, and that a common result of the latter condition is deep vein thrombosis. DVT is a serious condition, because when blood clots form in the large veins of your legs, they can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, or to the brain and cause a stroke.  Luckily our vein treatment specialists are here to help!

That said, another form of thrombosis that we encounter in our New Orleans vein treatment clinic is called superficial thrombophlebitis, in which blood clots form in superficial (close to the surface of the skin) veins. This condition usually occurs in the legs, but can also appear in the arms.

What are the symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis?

Unlike DVT, which often displays no overt symptoms, superficial thrombophlebitis is characterized by a redness or inflammation of the skin along the surface of a vein, often accompanied by warmth of the skin over the clot itself and tenderness or pain that worsens when you apply pressure to the affected area. Untreated superficial thrombophlebitis can cause darkening or hardening of the skin over the vein, and pain throughout the affected limb.

Risk factors for superficial thrombophlebitis are the same as for other vein diseases – aging (being over 60), obesity, pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives, and smoking. The condition can also be caused by sitting or lying down too much, by damage caused by recent IV, catheter, or injection into a vein, or from chemical irritation, such as that resulting from cancer treatments.

How is superficial thrombophlebitis diagnosed and treated?

Most cases of superficial thrombophlebitis are detected during venous health screenings performed by a New Orleans metro area vascular doctor. During the screenings, the doctor uses Doppler ultrasound, Duplex ultrasound, and venography to measure your blood flow and detect any clots or obstructions within the veins. If the screening detects superficial thrombophlebitis, in most cases it can be treated using conservative measures such as warm compresses, elevating the affected limb, and wearing medical-grade compression stockings. Ibuprofen and aspirin may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

In most cases, superficial thrombophlebitis is a short-term condition that responds well to conservative treatment and goes away within a couple of weeks. Left untreated it can result in a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis or in DVT.

What can you do to find out if you have superficial thrombophlebitis?

If you have noticed any symptoms that resemble those we listed above, give the Louisiana vein doctors at La Bella Vita Laser and Vein Center and ask about our state-of-the-art vein treatment options.

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