Top Ten Questions:
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are part of a disease process called Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Varicose veins are dysfunctional leg veins which bulge out or cause symptoms due to impaired blood flow. Blood pools in the legs instead of returning to the heart. The myth is that these bulging veins are only a cosmetic issue. The truth is they also cause serious symptoms such as aching, throbbing, heaviness and fatigue at the end of the day, ankle swelling, restless legs at night, cramping and charley horses, itchiness and prickly feeling, and even skin discoloration and/or ulceration (skin breakdown).
How common are varicose veins?
CVI affects many people of all backgrounds. Estimates indicate that up to 40% of the U.S. population has some type of venous insufficiency. Up to 25% of the women and 15% of the men with the condition will end up with bulging veins. However, many people have symptoms without having visible varicose veins.
What are the risk factors for varicose veins?
- Heredity. If both your parents have varicose veins, there is 90% chance you will. If one of your parents have varicose veins there is up to a 60% chance you will as well.
- Prior pregnancy.
- Job or lifestyle where you are constantly standing.
- Prior leg trauma or surgery.
What are the signs and symptoms of varicose veins?
Symptoms may include aching/throbbing, leg heaviness or fatigue, restlessness of the legs at night (or inability to get comfortable in bed), ankle swelling, bulging varicose veins, charley horses or severe cramping, easy bruising, hardening of the skin, darkening of the skin (especially around the ankles), or skin ulceration in severe cases. Many people may experience symptoms without visible varicose veins.
Is ‘restless leg syndrome’ related to varicose veins?
Recent research suggests a possible connection. Our patients who have symptomatic varicose veins often also have “restless legs,” especially at night. Most describe this as an inability to get comfortable at night in bed. They feel the need to constantly move their legs or prop them on pillows. Varicose veins cause a lack of fresh oxygen in the legs, which can cause strange sensations.
Many people have ‘restless leg syndrome’ with no association to varicose veins and should see a neurologist or other health care professional. However, our experience at The Vein Institute and recent research shows that patients who have varicose veins and restless leg symptoms tend to have significant or complete improvement post treatment. Whether this is one disease entity with different causes or two separate disease processes with similar symptoms is still to be determined. If you have problematic leg veins and restless leg symptoms, vein treatment is likely to give you symptomatic relief.
What is vein stripping?
Vein stripping is an invasive surgical procedure in which veins are removed from the leg through open incisions, requiring general anesthesia and a comparatively longer recovery time. Although the standard of care for many years before the advent of minimally invasive treatments, vein stripping has largely been replaced by ablation techniques like EVLT. The procedures offered at The Vein Institute are safer, more effective, performed on an outpatient basis, and require little to no recovery time.
Are procedures covered by insurance?
Procedures are typically covered by insurance if the veins are causing symptoms. The Vein Institute staff will help ensure that you meet your plan’s requirements and will file all necessary paperwork to get your treatment pre-authorized.
I’m not sure if I have varicose veins or symptoms. How can I check to see if this is my problem?
We understand that many people don’t have the classic bulging varicose veins and many of the symptoms are vague or simply may be mistaken for “aging” or “wear and tear”. At The Vein Institute, we regularly hold free vein screenings, where you can come find out if you have the underlying problem causing varicose veins and if our treatments can help you.
What happens at a free vein screening?
Your free vein screening is an educational appointment that takes 15 minutes and provides you general information about varicose veins and treatment options. There is no charge to you, no formal ultrasound is performed, no consultation note is made, and your primary care physician will not receive any information.
You do not need to have a free vein screening; you may choose to skip this step for the initial consultation, especially if you have had prior varicose vein treatment, have bulging veins with symptoms, and/or if your doctor refers you. Any patient can have a free screening to better understand varicose veins, but the next step is always an initial vein consultation.
What is an Initial vein consultation?
It’s a comprehensive exam we perform to evaluate your leg veins in order to determine what treatment, if any, is appropriate for you. It is mandatory for any patient who has symptoms and is a candidate for varicose vein procedures—whether or not you had a free vein screening. This is the first step for some patients or the next step after a free vein screening for others.
At this comprehensive venous workup, you will fill out history forms and have your deep leg veins checked. Your superficial leg veins and varicose veins will be “mapped” with a stand-up ultrasound. And you’ll have an opportunity to talk with one of our physicians or physician assistants to review your history and receive an explanation of your ultrasound and explore treatment options, including risks/benefits/alternatives.
This appointment is billed to your insurance as any other specialty care would be charged, and is subject to your copay and/or deductible. You will be billed for both a consultation and an ultrasound. If you would like an estimate of charges, please let our staff know.