- What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins happen when small valves in veins break and cause the blood to flow in the wrong direction. This causes the veins to swell and backfill with stagnant blood. Varicose veins can appear as either bulging and ropelike, or small and threadlike. However, they can also develop deep under your skin where you are not able to see them. Varicose veins can cause aching, tired and swollen legs; create a burning, throbbing, or itching sensation; and cause muscle cramps and a general restlessness in your legs. Varicose veins require medical treatment.
- What causes varicose veins?
More than 80 percent of vein disease is genetic. Although pregnancy can aggravate vein disease, it doesn't actually cause it. Since varicose veins are mainly hereditary, this means they aren't caused by long periods of standing or crossing your legs when you sit down. Even so, long periods of standing, as well as obesity, can make the disease worse. Find out more about common vein conditions.
- What are spider veins?
Spider veins are very small varicose veins. Although they don't usually cause discomfort, the deeper veins that often accompany them do. Many vein disease sufferers have a combination of both varicose and spider veins. While they may seek treatment for cosmetic improvement, many of our patients are looking for relief from pain.
- Does vein disease affect women and men equally?
More than half of all women will develop varicose vein disease over the course of their lifetime. However, 40 to 45 percent of all men will develop vein disease as well. The unique hormonal conditions that women face, such as pregnancy and menopause, often cause their veins to become worse. This is likely why more women than men seek treatment for their condition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vein Treatment
- What is endovenous laser treatment?
Endovenous laser treatment (ELT) is a FDA-approved, minimally invasive laser treatment that requires no hospitalization and no complicated surgery. The entire procedure, start to finish, takes about one hour and causes minimal discomfort. Performed under ultrasound guidance, ELT uses laser energy to treat varicose veins by closing off the damaged vein, preventing it from flowing in the wrong direction down the leg. Your body then naturally uses a multitude of other healthy veins to return blood to the heart.
- What is sclerotherapy?
During sclerotherapy, a solution is injected into your varicose or spider veins. This closes the abnormal vein and seals it off from the other healthy veins in your leg. The vein shrinks over time and is eventually absorbed. A typical treatment session may last for 15 to 20 minutes and will consist of microinjections. Depending on where the vein is located, this procedure is done with or without ultrasound guidance. VCA uses FDA-approved solutions during sclerotherapy including Asclera® and Sotradecol®.
- What is the difference between ELT and surface lasers?
Endovenous Laser Therapy (ELT) is used to treat larger source veins beneath the surface of the skin. Surface lasers treat the lighter, more delicate spider veins that appear close to the skin's surface. Research has shown that surface lasers are not as effective as sclerotherapy in spider vein treatment.
- Don’t I need all of my veins?
Varicose veins are a burden on your circulation. Because the blood inside them is traveling in the wrong direction, correcting the flow by eliminating venous congestion can only improve your circulation. In treating varicose veins, we focus only on the diseased veins and safeguard the healthy veins for normal circulation. Ultrasound guidance ensures that treatment is highly selective.
- What happens to my vein after it has been treated?
The treated vein is closed off from the rest of the veins in your leg, allowing the body to naturally redirect the blood flow to healthy veins. The treated vein is then absorbed by your body over time.
- Does vein treatment have any dangerous side effects?
As with all of Vein Clinics of America's procedures, side effects and complications are possible but not likely. Complications resulting from endovenous laser treatment (ELT) and sclerotherapy are rare. You may experience some mild discomfort and bruising.
- How effective are Vein Clinics of America’s treatments?
Vein Clinics of America’s treatments are very effective. Although results vary, the majority of our patients have success with their treatments. Our follow-up program is designed to prevent varicose veins from becoming reestablished.
- Is it okay to postpone treatment?
As you probably know, postponing any type of treatment can have drawbacks. Varicose vein disease is a progressive disease that will only get worse if left untreated. When making a decision about your varicose veins, keep in mind that the sooner you get your veins treated, the easier they are to treat and control. Our patients often remark, "I wish I had done this years ago."
- How effective is surgery as a treatment option?
The failure rate for vein surgery is 25 to 43 percent in one to five years. Stripping a varicose vein surgically is not the same as removing an appendix – a one-time-only procedure – because new varicose veins can develop in other places in the leg. Repeated surgery is not an acceptable solution for a recurrent problem.1
- Can I just have my small veins treated?
In vein treatment, it is important to treat the unsightly surface spider veins as well as the larger veins that actually cause them. Treating the feeder veins addresses the source of the problem. This helps to increase the satisfaction of our patients’ treatment outcomes while reducing the chance of recurrence.
- What about treating other parts of the body affected by veins?
We don't just treat veins in the legs. We also treat the veins in the hands and face. We've even successfully treated the veins around the eyes that cause dark circles.
- Will I need to be hospitalized or take time off from work after treatment?
Treatment is on an outpatient basis during convenient office visits. You can usually resume most of your day-to-day activities shortly after each session.
- How are the doctors at Vein Clinics of America trained?
Phlebology is a relatively new medical specialty dedicated to the treatment of vein disease. Physicians typically receive training from another specialist during a specialty preceptorship or fellowship. Vein Clinics of America has always trained our own physicians to ensure quality and to maintain our high standard of providing experienced medical care. For nearly 30 years of specialized service, VCA has helped to pioneer vein treatment and has been a leader in the field.
- What happens during a physician consultation?
When you come to us, you will complete a patient medical history form. A medical doctor specializing in phlebology, the medical study of varicose veins, will examine you and answer your questions. Your circulation will be tested with a noninvasive ultrasound and an individualized treatment plan will be developed for you. You will also meet with our office manager to review your insurance benefits.
Insurance and Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs)
- Can I use my Flex Spending Account (FSA) to pay for my vein treatment?
FSAs are a valuable benefit to help pay for medical expenses. Reimbursable FSA expenses cover a variety of health-related treatments including many treatments for vein disorders, such as varicose veins and venous leg ulcers. Check with your plan's administrator for your specific coverage options.
- Is vein treatment covered by insurance?
Varicose vein treatment is often covered by insurance. In fact, Vein Clinics of America is in network with most major insurance plans. We will work with you to maximize your insurance benefits. Call us at (844) 890-VEIN (8346) to learn more.
1. Perrin MR, et al. Recurrent varices after surgery (REVAS), a consensus document. Cardiovasc Surg. 2000;8(4):233-245.