Capitol Vein Blog

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WebMD on Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Recently, WebMD's web-based newsletter contained an article all about Varicose and Spider Veins. I was thrilled that a problem such as varicose veins, which affects approximately one out of two people age 50 and older (according to the Society of Interventional Radiology) was receiving some focus within a multi-million reader based medical newsletter.

Click here to read the article.

There are a few points I disagree with in this article. First, WebMD states, "Most varicose veins do not need to be treated unless resulting in ulcers, bleeding, or phlebitis". This is simply not true. Most insurance companies cover treatments for varicose veins long before ulcerations or bleeding become problematic. Varicose veins that are left unattended to and progress to ulcerations and/or blood clots, can result in a significant increase of the number of treatments necessary, more recovery time, hence more downtime. Now to be clear, there does have to be a medical reason to justify varicose vein treatments. Symptoms that affect your daily life, such as leg aching, heaviness, swelling, restless leg syndrome (RLS), night cramps, can all negatively impact the ability to live life to its fullest and should be evaluated by a vein specialist who is board certified in both Vascular Surgery and Phlebology. Early intervention for symptomatic varicose veins not only improves your quality of life, but will also stop the eminent progression that will occur without treatment.

WebMD also states that the simplest treatment for varicose veins is support stockings. Support stockings will not treat varicose veins. They will help alleviate the symptoms that varicose veins produce, but they will not treat varicose veins or spider veins.

"Standard procedure for treatment of varicose veins is ligation and stripping" per WebMD. This was true a decade ago, but hospitalization, sedation, and long recoveries are a thing of the past. Treatments are now done in the office in 30 minutes with local anesthesia and there is no down time.

"Radio Frequency Ablation treatments: after a year or two the vein disappears" per WebMD. This statement is very misleading. Radio frequency ablation refers to the popular vein treatment called VNUS Closure. VNUS Closure is one modality that treats the source of the visible varicose veins. In other words, there is a vein within your leg that you cannot see, that is causing the bulging varicose veins on the surface of your leg.  Once the source vein is treated, your visible varicose veins should not progress in size or number.  Most people with moderately sized varicosities may need a second treatment to eliminate varicose veins that do not regress completely following VNUS Closure. This treatment, called microphlebectomy or ambulatory phlebectomy, is also covered by most insurance companies and done in the office in 30 minutes. There are many Vein Centers who only do VNUS Closure and sclerotherapy, neither of which fully take care of moderately sized varicosities. As you research your physician options, ensure that your physician participates with your insurance company, is board certified in Vascular Surgery and Phlebology (the medical specialty of venous problems), and offers microphlebectomy treatment. We have seen hundreds of patients who have been mislead by being told, "VNUS Closure is all you need" for treatment. Often times this is not the case and you will want to make sure the physician you choose can take care of all of your vein needs.


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