If you suffer from painful or unsightly varicose veins or spider veins, or have symptoms of other types of vein disease, you may be considering vein treatment to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. A vein specialist can decide which treatment options are best for you, and here are the top 5 questions and answers to keep in mind.
1. Is there only one treatment for my varicose veins or spider veins?
These days there are several treatment options for most vein diseases, including varicose veins and spider veins. In many cases a vein specialist can treat your condition using a minimally-invasive procedure done in a doctor’s office as an outpatient procedure—meaning you will go home that day. In fact, open surgery is reserved for only a small number of vein patients.
For example, varicose veins and spider veins can be treated with sclerotherapy, surface laser therapy, intense pulsed light therapy, endovenous laser or radiofrequency ablation, vein ligation and stripping, or ambulatory phlebectomy. Even procedures that involve removing the veins completely, such as phlebectomy, are now done in less-invasive ways.
Treatments that are available for vein disease all have different advantages, risks and success rates. Your doctor can help you choose the best procedure for your situation. In some cases, your doctor may opt to use multiple techniques, such as endovenous laser ablation to close off larger varicose veins and sclerotherapy for treating smaller varicose veins and spider veins.
2. Is there any pain or side effects?
All vein treatments have some side effects, even less-invasive procedures like surface laser therapy and sclerotherapy for varicose veins. Even with these procedures, you may still experience some pain, but in general it is minor and only lasts for a short time.
More invasive procedures, like endovenous thermal ablation, ambulatory phlebectomy, and vein ligation and stripping may have more complications and pain.
Your doctor will take every precaution to minimize any pain that you may experience during and after the procedure. This may include using ice packs to cool the area being treated during intense pulsed light therapy, or using a general or local anesthetic before endovenous laser treatments.
3. How many treatment sessions will I need?
This all depends on several factors, such as how many veins need to be treated, how severe your condition is, and whether your doctor will perform all the necessary procedures or refer you to another specialist for some of them.
If you only have one varicose vein that is bothering you or a few spider veins, you may be able to have all your treatments done in one visit. If you have multiple spider or varicose veins, though, you may need multiple treatment sessions four to six weeks apart. This is true for surface laser therapy, intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy and sclerotherapy.
If you are having endovenous ablation done, your doctor may treat the larger veins on your first visit. Once the larger vein is treated, smaller varicose veins or spider veins may be less severe. However, your doctor may suggest at your follow-up visit that you have other treatments, such as sclerotherapy or surface laser therapy for those other varicose veins.
4. If I don’t have my vein problem treated, will something bad happen later?
Some vein conditions like spider veins and varicose veins are quality-of-life issues, and not life-threatening. That means if you don’t mind how your legs look and feel, and you haven’t had any complications of vein disease, you can put off treatment for years with minimal risk to your health.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to a vein specialist about any symptoms that you’re experiencing. In some cases, even varicose veins can cause complications such as blood clots, mild to moderate pain, or skin ulcers.
Symptoms related to your veins may be signs of more serious vein diseases which can become worse if left untreated. This includes chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a condition where the one-way valves inside your veins don’t work properly, causing an increase in pressure in the legs; and deep vein thrombosis, which are blood clots in the deep veins of the leg.
5. Are vein treatments covered by insurance?
Many vein treatments are actually covered by health insurance. That’s because if the symptoms are bad enough that you’re seeking help, then they are probably also affecting your quality of life. Vein disorders like varicose veins may also be a sign of a more serious vein condition. Early treatment is an important step in heading those off.
However, before you schedule a vein procedure, check with your insurance company and doctor to make sure that the procedure will be covered by your insurance policy.
Updated Oct. 31, 2017