Varicose Veins: 15 Questions Answered (Video)
More than a cosmetic concern for women and men
Varicose veins--about half of adults have them and they become more prevalent with age. Left untreated, varicose veins can make your legs feel tired, heavy, painful or restless and could lead to more serious health problems like pulmonary embolism or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). In this Q&A, interventional cardiologist Ahmed Habib, MD, answers 16 questions about varicose veins, vein treatment and venous disease.
1. How do I know if I have varicose veins?
Symptoms of varicose vein disease are common. Large, bulging, twisted veins are a sign, but there are additional indicators. If you experience leg fatigue, pain or swelling, or if your legs are affected from regular activity like walking or standing, you may have varicose veins.
2. How do I get rid of the veins in my legs?
If you are a candidate to get the veins treated, we have minimally invasive procedures to give you relief. The varicose veins are treated with either heat (Venefit ™radio frequency ablation) or a chemical (Varithena chemical ablation) to irritate the inside of the vein and cause it to close. Once the vein closes, the backward blood flow in the veins is stopped, rerouting the blood to healthier veins, relieving symptoms and reducing the risk for complications such as ulcers.
3. How do I know if I am a good candidate for treatment?
You must have an evaluation to see if you are a candidate for the procedure. An ultrasound on your legs at your first appointment will let us know if you are a candidate. If you have been diagnosed with blood clots, you cannot have varicose veins treated.
4. Are spider veins the same as varicose veins?
Spider veins, red, purple or blue veins that look like a spider web, are dilated veins in the legs and are not the same condition as varicose veins; however, they may be caused from varicose veins.
5. Will it hurt?
Treatment of varicose veins is a minimally invasive procedure with no cutting. There is an injection, a needle poke, to anesthetize the area, or deaden the pain, similar to what a dentist does before a procedure. The procedure is performed through an IV in the leg.
6. How many times do I have to go to the doctor’s office?
There is an initial evaluation in the office. An ultrasound of the veins in the legs must be completed before any procedures can be performed to determine the areas that may benefit from treatment. Patients must wear compression stockings prior to any procedures for 6-12 weeks, depending on insurance requirements. Most insurance companies require prior authorization, which out staff takes care of during the process. Patients come back to the office about three days after the procedure for a follow-up ultrasound, and an office appointment one to two weeks after the follow-up ultrasound.
7. How long before I notice results?
Results are immediate. Depending on your symptoms, you should notice less pain, less cramping and/or less swelling within a week of having treatment.
8. Will I have to have it done again?
Ninety-five percent of patients have sustained relief once they have the procedure.
9. Why do I have varicose veins?
Causes and risk factors include age, pregnancy, obesity, family history, previous blood clot, previous injury/trauma, heavy lifting and standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. Women are a higher risk than men for varicose veins.
10. Will insurance pay for varicose vein treatment?
Most insurance companies require prior authorization, which our staff will handle during the process. Most insurance companies will cover a procedure that is medically necessary.
11. Is there scarring?
There is no scarring because there is no cutting involved in treating varicose veins.
12. Can you take care of the veins in my hands?
No, only the veins in your legs, not veins in your hands, face or any other part of the venous system.
13. How do I get rid of spider veins?
Sclerotherapy is an injection used to treat spider veins, reticular veins (small veins that “feed” the spider veins) or small varicose veins.
14. Will you treat spider veins?
At this time we are only offering treatment for varicose veins.
15. Who can treat varicose veins?
Specialized physicians with specialized training treat varicose veins. Specialists who already do arterial procedures on the heart are most skilled in treating varicose veins. The specialists can be cardiologists, vascular surgeons or heart surgeons.
Make an appointment
Schedule your patient evaluation today with the Genesis Vein Center to see if you are a candidate for varicose vein treatment.