What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are part of a disease process called Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Blood pools in the leg veins instead of returning to the heart, causing bulging veins. 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, fatigue, ankle swelling, restless legs at night, cramping and charlie horses, itchiness and prickly feeling, skin discoloration, and/or ulceration (skin breakdown).
How common are varicose veins?
Chronic venous insufficiency affects many people of all backgrounds. Estimates indicate that up to 40% of the U.S. population has some type of venous insufficiency. However, many people have symptoms without having visible varicose veins.
What are the risk factors for varicose veins?
- 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 at The Vein Institute suggests a strong correlation. Patient with abnormal veins often have restless legs, especially at night or have nighttime cramping and charlie horses.
What does 'minimally invasive procedures' actually mean?
Prior to 15 year ago, the only treatment for varicose veins was a major surgery called vein stripping. Our procedures are all minimally invasive, which means that we do them all through tiny incisions using only numbing medication. No open surgery, no big incisions, no blood loss, no anesthesia or sedation. This has major advantages in that they are safer, more effective, hurt less afterwards, have quicker recovery, and are associated with less complications. All of our procedures are performed in our office, and you typically go home 15 minutes after the procedure is done.
Do the procedures hurt?
We do not use general anesthesia or sedation for our office procedures. We perform all of our procedures at the office with numbing agents such as lidocaine. We can do this because everything is minimally invasive. Most patients do feel the tiny needle pinches, but almost all say that they tolerate this quite well. Many people have stated that the pain during our procedures is similar to the level of pain from getting blood drawn or to having your teeth cleaned.
How many procedures will I need? How long do they take?
This all depends on what the problem is and what the treatment is. This can only be determined after your consultation with your physician and discussion of your individualized treatment plan. On average, most of our varicose vein patients need 1-3 treatment days and most of our cosmetic spider vein patients require 2-5 cosmetic sclerotherapy treatments. For each procedure day, patients should expect to be in our office for 45-90 minutes total. We will tell you prior to your appointment how long each one should take.
Are the procedures safe?
Yes, the procedures are exceedingly safe. The main risks for our procedures, like most other procedures and surgeries, are DVT (or blood clot), skin or nerve damage, bleeding, and infection. We do everything in our power to minimize these complications and take great pride in following our patients immediately after and long-term to make sure the risks are as low as possible. All of our interventional radiologists and staff are board-certified and trained with years of expertise in venous care.
What is the success rate of these procedures?
Across the board for all the procedure performed at TVI, our success rate is exemplary. There are two measures we track for our success rate for vein treatments - technical success rate (which tracks whether we did what we aimed to do in our procedure) and clinical success rate (which tracks whether our patients actually got better). Our technical success rate is above 99% in terms of vein closure. Our clinical success rate is approximately 92% for patients to get complete or mostly complete relief of symptoms.
How much experience does The Vein Institute have?
Treating veins is all we do at TVI, and we have been doing it for years. We have seen and diagnosed thousand of patients in the Rochester area. Our physicians have over 65 years of combined experience treating veins.
Are procedures covered by insurance?
Procedures performed at The Vein Institute are typically covered by insurance if varicose 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. Cosmetic sclerotherapy is not covered by insurance - please call for pricing.
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 diagnose your problem and determine what treatment, if any, is appropriate for you. A consultation is mandatory for any patient who has symptoms and is a candidate for varicose vein procedures, although some may choose to first have a free vein screening.
At this consultation, you will fill out history forms and have your leg veins checked. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with one of our physicians or physician assistant to review your history and receive an explanation of your ultrasound and explore treatment options, including risks, benefits, and 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.