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Varicose Vein FAQs

I am overweight. Did that cause my varicose veins and can I still be treated?

Being overweight probably did not cause your varicose veins. Your genetic makeup when you were born probably determined that you were going to have vein problems. The overweight condition aggravates the abnormal veins. You can still be treated and expect a good result, but you will have a higher chance of recurrence if the weight problem is not corrected.

How will the blood get back to my heart after the abnormal veins are removed or sealed off?

These damaged veins are actually a burden to your circulation. The backward flow of blood in the abnormal veins interferes with the normal venous return of blood. Removal of these veins improves circulation of blood in the treated limb. It is this improvement in limb circulation that causes relief of symptoms of tiredness and heaviness in the limb. This is because the body has re-routed the blood flow into stronger, healthier, deeper veins.

I was told that if you treat my veins, then I will not have any for a heart bypass.

Bulging varicose veins are useless to a heart surgeon. He/She needs a normal-sized, straight and healthy vein to bypass an obstructed coronary artery. The veins that we treat are already diseased, and as such, cannot be used for coronary bypass. If your leg veins are so diseased that they cannot be used, there are plenty of other options available to the heart surgeon.

What will happen if my varicose veins are NOT treated?

Over time varicose veins always enlarge and become more symptomatic, forcing many people to alter their daily activities to try to decrease the pain. In severe cases, varicose veins can cause skin damage, ulcerations, and blood clots. These complications can be prevented by treating the varicose veins early.

What is a skin ulcer?

A skin ulcer is caused by a venous reflux disorder and is called a venous stasis ulcer. Early signs that a venous stasis ulcer may develop include a darkening of the skin in the area of the ankle. Gradually, the skin may become leathery or waxy in appearance. Without treatment of the venous disease, the skin may break down and bleeding may occur.

I’ve told my doctor about my varicose veins many times, but he told me not to worry about them, that they were just ‘cosmetic.’ What do you think?

Large bulging varicose veins cause symptoms in the vast majority of people who have them. In most cases, these veins are not just ‘cosmetic’ but are considered to be a serious medical problem that can lead to significant complications if not treated. In years past when the surgery to remove varicose veins was so painful and disfiguring (e.g., vein stripping), many physicians discouraged their patients from having anything done. At CiC, new non surgical techniques are so much less invasive and less painful; there is no reason to live with varicose veins anymore. Unfortunately, your physician may not be aware of all the newest techniques available for varicose vein treatment.

What can I expect from my varicose vein treatments?

You can expect improvement – improvement both in the relief of pain, fatigue, aching and heaviness that most varicose vein patients experience, and improvement in the appearance of those ugly, ropy veins. What you cannot expect is for the clock to be turned back to those flawless teenage legs. Our modern treatments are a vast improvement over the techniques of just a few years ago. Scars, if any, are a fraction of what they used to be. But the key word is improvement, not perfection.

Who can be treated?

Nearly all patients with varicose veins, many patients with leg swelling and leg pain, many patients with spider veins, and most patients with more serious leg ulcers will have saphenous vein valve incompetence. These patients can be treated with the modern methods, and can expect excellent results.

Will my insurance pay for treatments?

Almost all major insurance companies and medicare now cover the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins. This includes the modern endovenous ablation procedures and micro-incision phlebectomy of large veins. The initial consultation (office visit) is also usually covered. Treatment of spider veins, regardless of symptoms, is always considered cosmetic by insurance companies and is not covered.

What is a duplex ultrasound examination?

The venous duplex examination permits your doctor to see the anatomy and check the flow characteristics of the veins beneath your skin. Useful information is gathered that your physician can use to adequately diagnose your specific vein problem and to plan and guide treatment.

I don’t see any varicose veins on my legs…only spider veins. Why do I need an ultrasound?

In many cases spider veins appearing in certain areas of the legs are an indication that deeper problems exist. Twenty five percent of patients who are seen for ‘cosmetic’ reasons turn out to have more serious vein problems. If a large vein underneath the skin is diseased and is causing spider veins to appear on the surface, the spider veins will not respond to any form of treatment and in fact will get worse until the large ‘feeding’ vein underneath is treated first. Your doctor will determine whether deeper problems are likely during your consultation.

What is ultrasound guided sclerotherapy?

Visual sclerotherapy refers to injection of surface veins that are visible to the naked eye. Some veins that need to be treated are below the surface of the skin and cannot be injected safely without the aid of ultrasound imaging assistance. CiC physicians are experts in ultrasound – with much more experience than is typical of other vein treatment providers.

Why do doctors recommend gradient compression stockings?

The properly fitted gradient compression stocking can temporarily reverse the effects of vein disease and lessen the discomfort as well as skin damage. Many insurance companies require a trial of stocking use before approving definitive therapy.