image of woman thinking about the things she learned about vein diseaseAfter writing about it for a year and a half, I built up quite a bit of knowledge about vein disease and its causes, symptoms, and treatments. But when Dr. Bunker diagnosed me with chronic venous insufficiency  (CVI) this spring, I experienced some interesting daily realities that all of the medical information in the world couldn’t have prepared me for.


Here are 5 things I never knew about vein disease until I was diagnosed:

It’s Possible (and Kind of Creepy) to Feel Your Veins

In the same way we feel our stomachs gurgling or hurting, or feel our lungs expanding with air, it is possible to feel the passage of blood through your veins. I never noticed this before, and my guess is because when your blood is flowing smoothly, it doesn’t feel like much at all.

But when your blood is refluxing or pooling, you can actually feel the backup in your veins. Sometimes it feels like a bent garden hose, a spotty, start-stop feeling kind of like a ticking or fluttering. Sometimes it feels like an outward pulsing or aching pressure, like when you have a sinus headache. And sometimes you can just feel a slight crawling sensation as your blood moves through your vein.

It takes a deep level of body awareness (paying close, almost meditative-like attention to the feeling of being in your body) to notice the subtle sensations, but once you do, you’ll know right away when you’re refluxing.

Wearing Compression Daily is Not Easy

One of the first recommendations for those experiencing vein issues, and one of the “conservative therapies” required by many insurance companies, is to wear medical-grade compression stockings every day.

Here’s what they don’t tell you: You will need many more than just one pair, and if you enjoy putting together nice outfits you must have at least one pair in black and at least a couple of pairs in the footless style. You can’t easily wear shorts, skirts, or dresses with thigh-highs, and you can’t wear flats, sandals, or flip-flops with footed styles.

All of that aside, wearing any kind of stockings in the hot Texas summer is an uncomfortable challenge. I recommend footless knee-highs for going out in shorts and flip-flops, and sleeves for short outings or going hiking/swimming (remove them before getting in the water). Click here for a full buying guide. 

Last, compression stockings require special care, and you have to be on top of washing them at all times, or you might get stuck with that last clean pair that doesn’t go with what you wanted to wear. Run your stockings through the wash on the “gentle” or “hand washables” cycle, and never put them in the dryer.


Swimming is Your New Best Friend

It’s difficult to find pain-free, heartbeat-raising exercise that doesn’t require putting strain on your legs. This was one of the hardest transitions for me—running, jogging, cycling, dancing, aerobics, lower body weight lifting or bodyweight exercises, and most yoga poses are suddenly crossed off the list.

There are many choices that target the core and upper body, but when it comes to working out your legs, the only recommendation I could find is walking, which doesn’t give you quite the same level of workout.

That is, until a holistic herbalist recommended swimming. She described the blood as the “water of the body,” so thought being immersed in water might be a good way to help it flow. Not only is swimming a great way to cool down from all those sweaty stockings, it provides an intense workout for the legs and cardio system without reflux or pain.


How You Sit & Stand Matters

One day as I was cooking in my kitchen, my sister pointed out that I was locking my knees as I stood. I have hyperextended knees, so it’s actually more comfortable and natural for me to stand with them locked out—but it’s not good for blood flow in the lower legs.

Pay attention to your posture when you’re standing. If you notice that you lock your knees out too, try to correct yourself as often as possible by putting a slight bend in your knees. This will make it easier for blood to flow through the veins, and won’t cause blood to pool as quickly.

The same goes for sitting—I used to be a big fan of sitting with my legs crossed, or sitting with one leg folded underneath my body. It won’t be hard to remember that these positions aren’t good for you; all it takes is a minute or two before you’ll notice the aching and pooling from your circulation being impeded. Sitting cross-legged (in lotus pose), kneeling, and squatting are also very uncomfortable and will quickly cause pain and backup.

Instead, keep your legs straight and uncrossed, and if possible elevate them on a stool, stack of pillows, another chair, or an ottoman while you’re sitting down.


Certain Types of Shoes Are Out

Not too long after receiving my diagnosis, I went out wearing a pair of very popular tennis shoes. In the middle of dinner, I was suddenly overtaken with intense pain in my feet, and had to rapidly unlace and take them off under the table-inconvenient at best; quite embarrassing at worst.

It turns out, the iconic narrow capped toe of these particular shoes is restricting on the feet, and when they’re already struggling with extra blood, this can quickly cause a circulation problem. I can still wear them if I lace them very loosely, but even so, wearing them for too long starts to hurt.

The same goes for any shoe style that is typically worn tight or snug, especially lace-up shoes and boots. If you have the option, make sure your laces are as loose as possible while still being supportive, or buy the next half size up.

Either way, pay special attention when buying new shoes, and take plenty of time to walk around in them and see how your feet and legs respond. Personally, I have a hard time wearing anything with a heel because of the strain on the feet, but can get away with a small wedge. Find what works for you.

If any of these lifestyle changes sound familiar or if you’ve noticed pain in your legs and feet, call Bunker Vein & Imaging at (512) 726-0599 to schedule a free screening and find out more about treatment options.


Image of walking for varicose vein prevention

An Easy Way to Practice Varicose Vein Prevention

Spring is here, the sun is shining, and it’s a perfect time to begin or revive your daily walking routine.

Going for a quick walk is one of the easiest and most effective ways to encourage and maintain healthy veins, and to alleviate the swelling and pain that can come with varicose veins.

Walking is easily adaptable for anyone, so no matter what your current fitness level walking can make a big impact for your feet and legs. Getting out for even a leisurely stroll for 10 or 15 minutes will improve your circulation and blood flow.

As Dr. John C. Wolf, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine explains, walking creates a rhythmic contraction of your leg muscles, which help to prevent blood from flowing backward, a common issue for veinous disease.

Walking is especially effective when applied as a daily activity in between prolonged bouts of sitting or standing, as these times tend to aggravate varicose vein symptoms and progression. Use your daily walks to get a breath of fresh air, take a break, have some time to yourself, or to spend time with friends or your dog.

According to the American Heart Association, your regular walking routine has tons of other benefits aside from caring for your veins. Just 30 minutes of walking per day has been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and enhance mental well being.

If you are experiencing pain in your lower legs despite a regular walking routine or have questions about varicose vein symptoms, contact Bunker Vein at (512) 726-0599.


Source: Wolf, John C. “EXERCISE ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS IN TREATING VARICOSE VEINS” Family Medicine. Retrieved from:

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. If you are in this category, you are at risk for many health problems. The more body fat that you have and the more you weigh, there is a greater likelihood that you will develop:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • Breathing problems
  • Certain cancers

Eating Healthy and Exercise

There are various factors that affect your weight, including your environment, family history and genetics, metabolism, and daily behaviors. There are some things you can’t change, such as your family history, but there are things you can change, such as your lifestyle habits!

Maintaining a healthy eating plan and being physically active are two of the most important lifestyle changes you can make. Not only will these changes help you lose weight – to look and feel healthier – it will also help you prevent varicose veins and make it easier to get treatment if you’ve already been diagnosed.

Varicose Veins and Being Overweight

Varicose Veins and Being OverweightAlthough it is not a direct correlation, varicose veins are more likely to occur in people who are overweight. Sitting or standing for long periods can cause blood to pool in the leg veins, increasing the pressure within the veins – for those who are prone to varicose veins, the veins can stretch as a result of that pressure.

Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on your veins, which can lead to varicose veins. Varicose veins are also more difficult to diagnose and treat in people who are overweight. Because veins usually reside 1-2 cm under the skin, in a larger leg they can be 4-5 cm below the surface, making them harder to see.

Conservative therapies, such as compression stockings, also aren’t as effective in overweight people. If getting healthy is your top priority for 2015, contact us at Bunker Vein & Imaging Center to find out which minimally invasive treatment will be the most effective in helping you get rid of varicose veins and spider veins.

Call (512) 726-0599 to make an appointment or contact us online for a free screening.

107729240_3278d325a5When going through pregnancy, your body will be going through many changes. One of these changes may be the appearance of varicose veins. Many factors can make you more susceptible to the condition, such as family history, successive pregnancies, carrying twins, aging, and obesity. When pregnant, your body will be holding more blood, which adds burden onto your veins. Thus, varicose veins may appear during your nine months. But with these prevention tips, you may avoid them or at least minimize their symptoms.

Prevent varicose veins during pregnancy by:

  • Exercising daily to encourage blood circulation
  • Avoid unnecessary weight gain by staying within the recommended range by your doctor
  • Make sure to take to breaks or stretch when sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Wear support hose such as compression socks to make blood flow easier

For consultation or a free screening of varicose veins before, during, or after pregnancy, speak with us. We will happily diagnose and help you find the right treatment. Call us at 512-726-0599!

2594690838_e713aea099If you are looking to help treat varicose veins yourself or prevent them, natural ways may be a possibility. The tactics do not always work for everyone, but they may alleviate some of the symptoms. Of course, the best treatment is to seek professional care and treatment.

Natural Strategies To Treat Varicose Veins

Get Some Exercise

Keeping veins strong and healthy is key to treating and preventing varicose veins. Therefore, a mix of aerobic exercise and strength training can keep you at a healthy weight, which helps your support venous structure.

Grape Seed Extract & Horse Chestnut Seed Extract

This has been known as a treatment by providing an antioxidant that promotes elasticity and reduces fluid leakage that ultimately contributes to leg swelling. Horse chestnut seed extract may also be another supplement to help vein health by improving the function of vessel walls.


Using a compress can ease any discomfort and reduce the swelling. Depending on how your legs feel, using cold or heated compresses can reduce your symptoms further.

The most ideal treatment is to seek a professional help to properly diagnose your legs and recommend proven treatment that is individualized to your needs. Request a free screening or call us today at 512-726-0599.

It’s important year-round to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent varicose veins — one of the common symptoms of varicose veins, caused by venous insufficiency, is leg swelling. Leg swelling can affect men as well as women.

Leg swelling can be a symptom of varicose veinsPainless swelling of the feet and ankles can be a common problem, especially among older people. But for some people, abnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs is called edema, and it can be a result of a blood clot in the leg or veins in the legs that cannot properly pump blood back to the heart.

As we approach the warmer months of summer, this condition can get much worse. With upcoming holidays such as Father’s Day and Fourth of July, there will be temptations to eat grilled meats, potato chips, and other snack foods that contain a lot of salt. Cold-cuts, which are used in sandwiches and popular at picnics, are also high in sodium.

Even though salads are healthy, salad dressing is also high in salt. Also, many people become more sedentary during the warmer months, taking long road trips or wanting to spend time sitting indoors in the cool air-conditioning instead of walking outside.

Tips to Reduce Leg Swelling

  • Raise your legs above your heart while lying down.
  • Exercise your legs. This helps pump fluid from your legs back to your heart. Join a gym or go swimming if it’s too hot outside!
  • Follow a low-salt diet, which may reduce fluid buildup and swelling.
  • Wear support stockings (sold at most drug and medical supply stores).
  • When traveling, especially on road trips, take breaks often to stand up and move around.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or garters around your thighs.
  • Lose weight if you need to.

If you are experiencing leg swelling and feel that it may be due to varicose veins or venous insufficiency, call (512) 726-0599 or learn more about our free screening.

Photo Credit: James Heilman via Wikimedia Creative Commons cc

Dr. Stephen Bunker and his medical team will be at the KEYE Television studios on Thursday, May 29, 2014. They will be discussing varicose veins relating to women’s health, and how gender and genetics can be a risk factor for developing this medical condition.

Watch for live interviews at 5:00. Be sure to call into the phone bank during the news hour and schedule your complimentary consultation!

This will also be a monthly television event, so stay tuned by liking our Facebook page.

Women at Higher Risk for Varicose Veins

Women's Health Varicose Veins: Risk FactorsNormally, one-way valves in your leg veins keep blood moving up toward the heart. When the valves do not work properly, blood backs up into the vein. The vein swells from the blood that collects there, which causes varicose veins. Smaller varicose veins that you can see on the surface of skin are called spider veins.

Varicose veins are common, and affect more women than men. They usually don’t cause problems for most people. However, in some people, they can lead to serious conditions, such as leg swelling and pain, blood clots, and skin changes.

Risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Being female (Hormonal changes from puberty, pregnancy and menopause can lead to varicose veins. Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement can also increase your risk.)
  • Being born with defective valves
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • History of blood clots in your legs
  • Standing or sitting for long periods
  • Family history of varicose veins

Source: MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, from the National Institutes of Health

Photo Credit: akk_rus via Compfight cc

Deep Vein Thrombosis Swollen Leg

Swollen Leg is a Sign of Deep Vein Thrombosis

In a recent article in The Atlantic, “When a Cramp Is Actually a Clot,” a runner tells the story about how she was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Her story is typical: DVT is often mistaken by both patients and doctors for something else, such as a runner’s cramp.

An estimated one in 1,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of Americans with DVTs, including those are undiagnosed, is estimated to be up to 600,000. As many as 100,000 deaths each year are directly or indirectly linked to a DVT.

A DVT alone is usually not life-threatening. Essentially, it’s a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside a part of the body, which mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh.

But if part of the blood clot breaks loose and flows back into bloodstream, it could eventually get stuck in a passageway that is too small for it to pass through, such as those in the lungs. This results in a pulmonary embolism (PE), and that can kill you.

More than one-third of DVT patients have PE’s, according to the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism, issued in 2008. “Often, the first symptom of DVT is a fatal PE,” said Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Institutes of Health’s Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

“Recent long travel; a prolonged period of remaining in the same position; and red, painful, swelling were among the causes and symptoms listed. I had all but the redness and swelling. I called my doctor. She said to go to the nearest emergency room.”
— Christine Purley, avid runner

Early diagnosis is the key to a positive outcome, and diagnosis — along with treatment — is not difficult or painful. Treatment is completely non-invasive and a quick procedure.

Learn more about Bunker Vein & Imaging Center’s non-invasive treatments for varicose veins, which left untreated can lead to deep vein thrombosis.

Call us at (512) 726-0599 to make an appointment for a free screening.

Dr. Stephen Bunker and his medical team will be at the KEYE Television studios on Thursday, February 13, 2014. They will be discussing varicose veins facts and some common misconceptions.

Watch for live interviews at 5:00 PM. Be sure to call into the phone bank during the news hour and schedule your complimentary consultation!

This will also be a monthly television event, so stay tuned by liking our Facebook page.

Check out the video that’s been featured on KEYE TV:

Have you made your New Year’s resolution yet? Here is a resolution that shouldn’t be too hard to stick to, and it will not only help prevent varicose veins, it will also make you feel healthier in general. The first thing is to pay attention to your legs. Don’t wait for varicose vein symptoms…prevent them!

walking prevents varicose veinsExercise

High-impact exercise isn’t necessary or even recommended. Low- to medium-impact exercise such as walking can help keep you fit and can help with blood circulation. Even strolling 20 minutes during your lunch break and elevating your legs 10 minutes on a coffee break will make a big difference. According to WebMD, elevating your legs helps keep the blood from pooling in your lower legs and improves blood flow to the rest of your body.

varicose veins foods to eat and avoidEat Healthy Foods

Eat some fruit with bioflavonoids every day. That means more than one orange a day, but that’s at least a good start. Below are other fruits high in flavonoids:

  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • tangerines
  • plums & cherries
  • grapes

Did you know that there are also flavonoids in rosemary? Rosemary helps with venous circulation and has a positive effect on thinking and memory. Cooking with herbs also helps you avoid salt, which eating too much of can be a contributing factor to varicose veins. The quercetin in onions also helps prevents problems with veins.

Finally, you should avoid eating more than 2 servings of refined starches, such as bread, potato, white rice, and pasta. If you don’t burn the fuel from these starches through physical exertion, it adds to pelvic congestion as excess weight or constipation, which is a background factor in the development of varicose veins.

If you are already experiencing varicose or spider vein symptoms, you can contact us to request an appointment for a free screening. We now have a second location in Round Rock, in addition to our original location in Westlake.

Photo Credit: loop_oh via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: emdot via Compfight cc

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