Answers To Your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Normal veins, through a system of one-way valves, direct oxygen-poor blood back to the heart and lungs. With age and the forces of gravity, over time these valves sometimes begin to fail and allow blood to collect in leg veins, causing the veins to become swollen, stretched and protrude in a rope-like manner. This is what is known as varicose veins.
The main contributing factor to the formation of varicose veins is heredity. Most people suffering from bulging veins and leg heaviness have a family history of this condition. Leg injuries, weight fluctuation and long periods of standing or sitting can also contribute to and aggravate varicose veins. In women (up to 50% of American women may be affected), puberty, pregnancy, menopause and the use of birth control pills are all contributing hormonal factors.
Spider veins are simply broken capillaries, the tiniest of all blood vessels. The medical term for the broken blood vessels is telangiectasia, and it is characterized by small red, blue or purple web-like or linear veins at the skin surface. They are usually less than 2mm in diameter and can be flat or raised.
Like varicose veins, spider veins can be painful as well as unsightly. Fatigue, aching, heaviness, burning, throbbing, itching and cramping of legs have all been reported with varicose and spider veins.
Insurance coverage varies from insurance company to insurance company and from specific plan to plan. We can assist you in determining what your particular coverage is. Generally speaking, insurers only cover procedures which are medically necessary, i.e. you must have symptoms which are causing you discomfort. Treatments for cosmetic reasons are rarely covered.
Varicose veins are very common; about half of all adults aged 40-69 have them. That equates to about 20 million people in the United States who are suffering from varicose veins or spider veins, which appear on the surface and give the skin a discolored appearance.
Varicose veins are the direct result of something called venous reflux. A healthy valve within the vein prevents blood from “pooling” or flowing backward into the vein when it closes. But an unhealthy valve can allow blood to flow the wrong way, toward the foot, which causes the vein to fill with blood and bulge outward. The subsequent pressure builds up and causes veins to swell and become varicose, and may also result in other skin conditions.
In addition to being unsightly, they can be painful and sometimes even debilitating. Women are twice as likely as men to develop varicose and spider veins, but there are still millions of men who suffer from this condition.
There are several causes of varicose veins. You may have them as a normal part of the aging process. If one or more family members have had varicose veins, they may have been passed along to you genetically by your parents. Varicose veins can also be the result of hormonal changes, which can “relax” the walls within the vein and cause them to bulge. This is one of the reasons why they are so common in women.
Varicose veins may also be the result of one or more conditions that can put a greater-than-normal amount of pressure on the leg veins, such as a job that requires prolonged standing, or if you’re overweight or pregnant. Varicose veins can also be the result of more serious vein disease. Vein disease can reveal itself in blood clots or in other conditions that may have required vascular surgery.
Our goal is to make your consultation as productive as possible. To that end, we ask that you arrive 15 minutes early. If you have insurance, bring your insurance card and photo ID. Please bring a list of medications you are taking. You will fill out a new patient questionnaire. We also ask that you do not wear long, tight fitting under garments. A pair of shorts or a gown will be provided for you.
You will meet with one of our vein specialists who will discuss your health history and examine your legs, evaluate your specific condition and talk with you about your options. You will also receive an ultrasound exam of your legs to assist us in diagnosing or preparing for your treatment, as well as helping to determine the number of treatments that may be needed.
After your ultrasound, you will meet with one of our physicians to discuss the results of the exam, develop a treatment plan and answer any questions you may have.
In order to cover a minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins, your insurance company may first require you to undergo what is called “conservative therapy.” This involves wearing medical grade graduated compression stockings/hose for a specified period of time (usually 6-12 weeks). If conservative therapy does not resolve your varicose vein issue, you will likely be eligible for insurance coverage for one of the minimally invasive treatment procedures offered at Legacy Vein Clinic.
At Legacy Vein Clinic we offer multiple treatment options, based on the type of vein disorder you have and the degree to which it has progressed. The procedures are typically very well tolerated and only require the use of local anesthesia with or without a mild sedative.
Endovenous Laser Treatment
Endovenous Laser Treatment is an FDA-approved alternative to surgical vein stripping. It requires a small needle stick into the affected vein, through which a laser fiber is inserted. As pulses of light are delivered inside the vein by the laser system, the vein collapses and is sealed shut.
The VenaSeal™ closure system uses a special medical adhesive to close the vein. VenaSeal is administered without the use of tumescent anesthesia, avoiding the discomfort associated with multiple needle sticks.
Microphlebectomy is the minimally-invasive removal of surface varicose veins. You are able to walk immediately after the procedure. Microphlebectomy incisions are tiny (so tiny that sutures are typically not needed).
Sclerotherapy can be used to treat either varicose veins or spider veins. It involves using a tiny needle to inject medication into the damaged vein(s). The medication irritates the vein’s lining, causing it to collapse and be reabsorbed by the body. If treated at an early stage, spider veins can be prevented from becoming a larger problem. Depending on the type and number of veins being treated, you may need one to several injections over one or several sessions.