If you have spider veins, varicose veins or more severe vein problems, then you may be concerned about how your legs look and feel, as well how your vein condition will affect your health. Modern vein treatments are highly effective and often minimally invasive too.
Before you book your first appointment, though, these tips can help you choose the right vein specialist for your needs.
1. Advanced training in vein care
Fifteen years ago, most doctors who treated vein disease were vascular surgeons. With the rise in minimally invasive treatments in recent years, though, more doctors can now treat vein diseases in their own office. In fact, any doctor can call themselves a vein specialist, sometimes known as a phlebologist, so it can be hard to know which doctor is right for you.
To get the best care for your vein condition, look for a doctor who has advanced training in vein medicine. This could mean being board-certified in a specialty that has traditionally treated vein diseases, such as vascular surgery or interventional radiology (IR).
If the doctor’s specialty is in another area, such as dermatology or internal medicine, check to see if they have a vein-related certification from a reputable organization. This shows that a doctor has a real interest in vein medicine, and has gone beyond just taking a short course on how to use a vein treatment device.
The American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine offers a voluntary certification in phlebology, or vein medicine. Receipt of this certification shows that a doctor has met certain requirements for education, experience and knowledge of vein disease and treatment.
You can also do research or ask your doctor if they are a member of a major vein disease organization, such:
- American Vein Association
- American Venous Forum
- American College of Phlebology
- Society of Interventional Radiology
- Society for Vascular Surgery
2. Experience performing vein treatments
A doctor’s experience with a medical procedure has a huge impact on how well they perform the procedure and the results you can expect. This is especially true with procedures that involve working on small parts of the body, such as single veins in the leg.
Ask your doctor about how frequently they perform the vein treatment that you are considering. You can also check to see how much of their practice is devoted to vein disease. Doctors may list this information on their website.
The minimum number of procedures that a vein specialist has to do to be competent varies with each type of treatment. However, a doctor who performs thousands of procedures a year may be overusing that specific treatment.
It is also important that your doctor is qualified to treat your specific vein condition. With the non-invasive technology available now, many doctors can comfortably treat spider veins and varicose veins.
However, more complex vein problems, such as those involving the larger veins in the abdomen, pelvis or leg, should be treated by a vascular surgeon or an interventional radiologist.
3. Proper preliminary evaluation
Even if you're just seeing a vein specialist for a few spider veins around your ankle, your doctor should still do a preliminary evaluation to check for other, more serious conditions. Diagnosing venous conditions is often done with ultrasound, or other imaging techniques.
This doesn’t need to be a full examination, but enough to determine if you may have other conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis or venous insufficiency. If a more complex problem is present, your doctor may refer you to another specialist.
4. Offers a range of treatment options
Some vein specialists focus on certain procedures, such as treating only spider or varicose veins. However, even these diseases can be treated in many different ways, including sclerotherapy, surface laser therapy or endovenous ablation.
Choosing a vein specialist who offers a range of treatment options for a specific vein disease means that if one procedure doesn’t work, you won’t have to go to another specialist. In addition, certain procedures only work on veins of a certain size. So if you choose a comprehensive specialist, you can have most of your veins treated in one clinic.
5. Insurance and pricing
Many people think that because spider and varicose veins are “cosmetic” problems that your insurance won’t cover them. This is not always the case. More insurance policies cover vein treatments because issues with your veins can impact your quality of life.
So before you choose a vein specialist, check with your insurance company to see which procedures are covered and if you can only see a vein specialist within your insurance network.
Out-of-pocket prices for treatments also vary. While price should not be your primary reason for choosing a vein specialist, you may be able to save money by going to a doctor who is further away.
Also, keep in mind that some vein treatments can require multiple sessions and follow-ups. Ask your doctor if all sessions are included in a package deal. Your doctor, or a member of their staff can help explain costs and may offer payment plans that suit your needs.
Updated Sept. 8, 2017