Give Your Legs a Lift

Summer Sanders
As a lifelong athlete and Olympic swimmer, Summer Sanders never thought she'd be affected with varicose veins or CVI.
Women are most likely to have varicose veins, but more than 30 million Americans of all ages and both genders have unsightly veins that can give rise to serious problems. Ropy-looking blood vessels pop up when valves in leg veins don’t keep blood flowing back to the heart as efficiently as they should. Good, old-fashioned compression stockings are an excellent, non-invasive solution for many folks, but if these don’t work, you’ll need to consult a vein specialist. He or she can tell you about minimally invasive options to seal off enlarged veins with heat or injections.

The important thing is to take action before they become more than a cosmetic nuisance. “Regardless of the person’s age, all untreated varicose veins can potentially progress to chronic venous insufficiency, or CVI, a more serious disease that can lead to hard-to-treat skin damage and ulcers,” cautions Julianne Stoughton, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Signs and symptoms of CVI can worsen over time and also include ankle swelling, fatigue, restlessness, and pain of the legs.

The good news is that office-based procedures to treat problem veins can take less than an hour, require little down time, and are generally covered by insurance.

Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer, 2012 Olympic commentator, and busy mom Summer Sanders noticed her legs were heavy and achy after a long day and assumed it was something she just had to deal with. Later, doctors diagnosed her with venous insufficiency using a simple ultrasound test.

“I suffered for too long. Take control of your health and speak to a vein specialist,” urges Summer.

For more about Summer’s story, treatment details, and a physician locator, go to