We are thrilled to welcome Roxanne Hallgren, a Registered Nurse specializing in Cosmetic Sclerotherapy, to the team at Project Skin MD!
Roxanne is a big-hearted animal lover with a knack for treating varicose veins. She was the first nurse to present at The American College of Phlebology and an elected Fellow of the Canadian Society of Phlebology (in fact, she is the only nurse to hold this elected Fellow designation in British Columbia!)
Roxanne was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about the field of Phlebology, and the work she will be doing at Project Skin MD to treat spider and varicose veins.
You describe yourself as a nurse phlebologist, what does that mean?
Phlebology is the study of veins and vein disease. Since 1989, after founding the Vancouver Vein Clinic Ltd, my practice has been dedicated to the area of Phlebology.
What exactly are spider and varicose veins?
It is an inherited (genetic) weakness in the vein wall. Hormones, pregnancy, leg injury, abdominal straining and occupations that require standing still all contribute to the development of spider and varicose veins as we age.
When assessing a patient, I will categorize the veins into 3 different types:
Spider veins: very tiny and may be red or blue in color.
Reticular veins: slightly larger blue veins
Varicose veins: usually bulging tortuous veins that are greater than 6mm in diameter and for some people cause symptoms of pressure/tiredness/congestion in the legs.
What is a common myth regarding them?
Everyone thinks that crossing your legs causes spider/varicose veins….but it’s not true! This is the biggest urban myth out there!
How do you treat them?
The most important aspect of treating veins is to ensure a proper assessment. Many times, this involves an ultrasound of your leg veins. Not everyone needs an ultrasound and this will be discussed at the time of your assessment. If an ultrasound examination is performed it allows us to assess your specific vein problem and guide you to the appropriate treatment or specialist for more complex vein problems.
At Project Skin MD I will be treating patients using sclerotherapy – the gold standard of treatments worldwide – for cosmetic improvement. This involves injecting the veins with chemicals that close down the veins.
Is it painful?
Most patients are surprised at how little discomfort they feel during and after the injections.
What is the recovery like?
Tenors bandages are wrapped around the leg at the treated areas for spider veins. For small blue veins, graduated compression stockings may be required for up to 10 days. You can return to your normal daily activities and movement helps reduce pressure in the superficial veins as well as increase flow through the deep system.
Anything you should avoid?
Hot baths, Jacuzzis, saunas, hot yoga and sun beds are to be avoided for one week after each treatment session. Heat can cause veins to relax and open up, interfering with the success of the treatment.
Do they fully disappear?
I tell all my patients at the time of the assessment that I am going to give them an estimate number of treatments required to clear 80% of their veins. At 80% clearance, the patient feels comfortable in their bathing suits and shorts. Varicose veins and spider veins can be successfully treated, but because it is a genetic disorder it cannot be permanently cured. On average, patients require 4-6 initial treatments and then return yearly for 1-2 treatments to deal with new veins that have appeared.
Has the technology changed over time to treat them?
For spider and small blue veins sclerotherapy is still considered the gold standard worldwide.
For larger varicose veins, there have been quite a few advances. In the old days, the only option for the patient was to have their veins stripped which left the patient with numerous scars down the legs and it was a very painful procedure. Newer, less invasive treatments are now available which seal large varicose veins. These include ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, endovenous and radiofrequency venous ablation treatments. These procedures can be done in the phlebology physician’s office.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What does an ideal weekend in Vancouver look like for you?
I love to bike around UBC. I have a 7-minute walk from my home to Granville Island so on most days I shop daily for fresh fish and produce. I also like to walk to Kits pool and stop by the dog beach on my way!