Questions & Answers

For a good medical experience, you should not only get a diagnosis and a treatment, you should get a clear explanation of the condition, the procedures and what to expect. No question or concern is too small. Here are a few of the most common questions.

What causes varicose vein disease?

No one is totally sure. Heredity is certainly a big factor and certain families are predisposed to this condition. There are other factors that can increase the probability of developing varicose veins: estrogens (as in birth control pills or hormone replacement), pregnancy, menopause, obesity, prolonged sitting or standing, and injury to the leg.

Can I get rid of my varicose veins with lifestyle changes?

Lifestyle changes can’t prevent varicose veins (since it is largely genetics) but certainly can improve symptoms: healthy eating, good sleeping habits, stop smoking, regular exercise etc.”

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, often-unsightly blue veins generally occurring in the legs, close to the surface of the skin. Because their valves are damaged, varicose veins hold more blood at higher pressure than normal veins, forcing fluid into the surrounding tissue causing swelling and often pain.

What causes varicose veins?

Venous reflux disease is the underlying cause of varicose veins. It occurs in leg veins, particularly the saphenous veins carrying blood back to the heart. To prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction, these veins have numerous valves. When the valves fail, blood flows back down (refluxes) and pools up in the leg veins, causing them to swell.

Who is most at risk for varicose veins?

There are many factors that contribute to whether someone is at risk for varicose veins. Heredity, blood clots, hormonal changes, obesity, standing frequently for prolonged periods, and past vein diseases are some of these factors. Women are more likely to get them than men, and people over 50 are 50% more likely to get varicose veins.

Why do varicose veins occur more in the legs?

Gravity is the culprit. The distance from the feet to the heart is the furthest blood has to travel in the body. Consequently, those vessels experience a great deal of pressure. If vein valves can’t handle it, the backflow of blood can cause the surface veins to become swollen and distorted

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are small clusters of red, blue or purple veins that lay closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They can look like tree branches or spider webs and most commonly appear on the thighs, calves and ankles. Spider veins cause no pain or discomfort and so are considered a cosmetic problem.

What basic treatments are available?

Walking, wearing compression hose, elevating and resting the legs may relieve some of the symptoms (losing weight helps, too) and may prevent the condition from worsening. Should the veins continue to deteriorate, however, more aggressive procedures may be required.

What are venous leg ulcers?

Venous ulcers are areas of the lower leg where the skin has died and exposed the flesh beneath. Ulcers can range from the size of a penny to completely encircling the leg. They are painful, odorous open wounds that weep fluid and can last for months or even years. Most leg ulcers occur when vein disease is left untreated. They are most common among older people but can also affect individuals as young as 18.

Are there short term treatments for varicose veins?

Exercising, wearing compression stockings, elevating the legs, and resting the legs can all help to ease the symptoms caused by varicose veins. Weight loss can also help. This approach will not fix the varicose vein, however, as it does not address the cause of varicose veins- venous reflux. The treatments performed at Allegany Vein Clinic, such as EVLT and Sclerotherapy provide longer-term results.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a procedure where the vein is injected with a chemical solution that causes the vein to spasm and close. This re-routes the blood to other, healthy veins. Typically this is more successful on smaller veins, and is only a temporary solution for larger varicose veins.

What is the EVLT Procedure?

Endovenous (“inside the vein”) laser ablation is a non-surgical alternative to vein stripping. Through a tiny puncture in the skin, a catheter is advanced to the problem vein segment in the leg, and laser energy is delivered through the catheter tip. The vein segment is simply sealed and closed. The basic cause of the disease is thus taken care of, leading to improvement of venous reflux symptoms. Endovenous ablation can also be performed using radio-frequency energy.

Why do I need to get an ultrasound scan?

The first step in finding the right treatment for damaged veins is finding its source. A Doppler Duplex Ultrasound Scan provides a visual window, revealing the diseased, refluxing veins beneath the skin’s surface. With this diagnostic capability, we can pinpoint the exact cause of varicose veins and customize a treatment plan for each individual patient – and each damaged vein. Because the problem is dealt with at its source, the treatments are quicker, more effective and less painful than traditional methods, such as vein stripping.

Will my Insurance cover varicose vein treatment?

Insurance coverage for the treatment of venous insufficiency varies depending on both your insurance provider and your specific policy. In general, most insurance providers separate vein treatments into two categories—those that are deemed “medically necessary” versus those that are “cosmetic” in nature.

Typically, larger veins that are symptomatic (i.e. those that are causing discomfort such as pain, aching, burning, itching, swelling, fatigue, heaviness as well as other symptoms that may be specified by your insurance provider) are usually considered “medically necessary” and are therefore covered by your insurance.

To best understand the specific details of your policy and its coverage, contact your insurance provider.