Ten Misconceptions About Varicose Veins
1) “Varicose Veins are just cosmetic.”
I hear this frequently. Some of my patients have been told this by otherwise excellent primary care providers. Varicose veins are not merely a cosmetic issue. Most patients who have varicose veins—those bulging leg veins that are 3 milimeters or larger—have venous insufficiency. As much as 25 percent of the population may suffer from this condition. This chronic, progressive disorder of the circulatory system is often hereditary and is worsened by pregnancy, professions that require prolonged sitting or standing, and obesity. Often people with varicose veins have symptoms like aching, fatigue, swelling of the legs at the end of the day, itching, and restless legs.
2) “Varicose veins aren’t dangerous.”
Although varicose veins are rarely life threatening, if untreated they may rupture and bleed profusely, they may develop phlebitis, or they may contribute to the development of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), which can be fatal. Between 80-90 percent of leg ulcers are caused by venous insufficiency. Sadly, often treatment is sought only after one of these complications develops.
3) “Varicose Veins are just a problem for women.”
It is true that varicose veins do occur more frequently in women, in whom the condition is almost twice as prevalent. However, the condition is not uncommon in men. We see 200-300 new patients each month and roughly 25 percent are men. It is my experience that men generally wait longer to seek treatment and present with more advanced disease. In many cases men present after a (preventable) complication, and usually after the suggestion of their primary care provider, or (more commonly) their wife!
4) “There is nothing that can be done about varicose veins.”
This statements has not been true for over 100 years. Today we have an array of minimally invasive treatment options. Read on.
5) “Treatment is not covered by medical insurance.”
Many are surprised to learn that the treatment we perform to address venous insufficiency, called endovenous radiofrequency ablation or VNUS Closure, is covered by most insurances, including Medicare. This notion usually is attributable to the misconception that vein disease is merely a cosmetic issue. Although some treatments are cosmetic, such as topical laser ablation and sclerotherapy injections for spider veins, endovenous ablation to treat venous insufficiency is not.
6) “Treatment will require a life in compression stockings.”
Compression stockings do provide relief of symptoms for patients suffering with venous insufficiency and should be the first line of conservative treatment. But I can attest for the many thousands of patients I have cared for—no one has missed wearing compression stockings after treatment! For the vast majority of patients we can significantly reduce or eliminate the need for compression stockings for symptom relief.
7) “Treatment will require stripping procedures.”
I have performed vein stripping procedures when there were no minimally invasive treatment options. These painful surgeries are performed in an operating room under regional or general anesthesia and require a week or two of down time for recovery. Thankfully we now have minimally invasive treatment options like VNUS Closure.
8) “I need to go to the hospital for treatment.”
We perform VNUS Closure in our outpatient facilities designed exclusively for vein care. We offer state of the art treatment centers in Columbia, Annapolis, and Chevy Chase. All of the doctors who perform VNUS Closure at Maryland Vein Professionals are Board Certified Vascular or Cardiovascular Surgeons.
9) “Vein treatment is painful.”
To date I have performed over 8500 procedures. Most of our patients report minimal discomfort with the procedure done under a local anesthetic. Please see our video testimonials online. In our facilities, patients can enjoy a video or music during treatment. Patients are in and out of our office in 60–90 minutes and return to normal activity the same day.
10) “Topical lasers can fix varicose veins.”
Despite being touted as a treatment option for varicose leg veins, skin laser treatments are better suited for facial or other veins above the diaphragm. For larger leg varicose veins, topical lasers are not the treatment of choice. For the smaller spider veins our first choice is sclerotherapy, a treatment where medication is injected to close the smaller veins. We also offer a new treatment called VeinGogh® which is effective for certain small red spider veins. VeinGogh treatment uses topical radiofrequency energy.
Additional posts by Jonathan Calure
- Choosing a Vein Care Specialist, 09 Feb 2013 in Health & Wellness
- You Can Do Something About Your Varicose Veins, 08 Aug 2011 in Health & Wellness
- New Treatment Options for Spider Veins, 02 Jun 2011 in Health & Wellness
- Early Treatment of Vein Disease: Why It’s Important, 29 Mar 2011 in Health & Wellness
- When Should I Seek Treatment for My Varicose Veins?, 02 Dec 2010 in Health & Wellness
- Why Do Varicose Veins Occur With Pregnancy?, 08 Oct 2010 in Health & Wellness
- How Can I Get Rid of My Varicose Veins?, 17 Aug 2010 in Health & Wellness
- Early Treatment of Vein Disease: Why It’s Important, 15 Jun 2010 in Health & Wellness
- An Interview with Dr. Calure of Maryland Vein Professionals, 28 Feb 2010 in Health & Wellness