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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Addiction and Substance Abuse
Irreparable vein damage
Hi there, I am wondering if the damage done to my veins from past drug dependence is irreversable. I believe I may have done lasting damage to the veins above my elbow on both arms and am concerned that should I ever need medical treatment/blood tests in the future this may be a serious problem. What I`d like to know is whether or not these veins will heal completely or at all over time? Thankyou in advance.
Thank you for this excellent question.
There certainly can be substantial damage done to veins from IV drug use. This damage tends to be in the from of "sclerosis" or scarring. Scars tend not to be reversible, and therefore the veins that have been scarred or "sclerosed" do not typically ever open up again.
The good news is that the body generally has many sets of veins in many different places, so from a practical standpoint, if you have future medical needs that require use of a vein, almost always your doctors can find appropriate veins.
Many of my patients have told me over the years that one of the things that helps them think about this sort of vein damage is to remind themselves that the vein damage is a physical example of the degree that they were out of control when using ... and that with their recovery program their life is now much more manageable.
Thank you again for this question.
Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University