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6 Myths About Vein Disease

MYTH 1 | VARICOSE AND SPIDER VEINS WILL ALWAYS REOCCUR AFTER TREATMENT

This is far from the truth, reminiscent of the days when vein stripping was the most widely used treatment option. While procedures like vein stripping were, of course, performed with the best of intentions,  they often caused the reoccurrence of varicose veins. Today, the field of venous & lymphatic medicine has made incredible progress in the understanding and treatment of different forms of vein disease and has lowered recurrence rates to below 5%!

Spider veins result from two main circumstances. The first is typically hormonal, especially in women. Treatment of hormonally-induced spider veins can be successful for many years, but recurrence is not unheard of and touch up care may be needed. The second cause of spider veins is high pressures caused by varicose veins. Spider veins should be permanently eliminated once high-pressure issues have been resolved.  

State-of-the-art treatments like ultrasound-guided endovenous laser therapy and sclerotherapy are better organized, safer, and more efficient than ever before. They are non-invasive and generally pose little risk for complications during recovery. Procedures like endovenous laser therapy allow physicians to treat varicose veins at their source.  These newer techniques are more effective, less painful, and require little to no downtime.

MYTH 2 |  IT IS BEST FOR WOMEN TO WAIT UNTIL THEY WILL NO LONGER BECOME PREGNANT TO TREAT THEIR VEIN DISEASE

Though many people understand that pregnancy can cause high blood pressure which can lead to a variety of vein-related complications, over the years we have treated patients, most of them women. We have heard this story over a thousand times, "I was told to wait until after all my pregnancies to get my veins fixed." Many of these women had varicose veins prior to pregnancy or during their first or second pregnancy.

We know now that once treated, the pain, swelling, and discomfort associated with those veins will not reoccur and that, once treated, these varicose veins will disappear from the body so it makes little sense to us at IVS to wait for treatment.

We believe that if you have a family history of varicose veins that it makes sense for women to be screened and treated for Chronic Venous Hypertension (CVH) to prevent them from needless suffering during or after pregnancy. Certainly, if a woman has developed varicose veins during a pregnancy, once the delivery is completed and she has sufficiently recovered, it is good advice to get evaluated and treated before becoming pregnant again.

MYTH 3 | VARICOSE VEIN TREATMENT IS JUST A COSMETIC FIX

It is arguable that the most harmful misconception about vein disease is that it is a cosmetic concern rather than a legitimate disease. This misconception lends itself to many of the myths in circulation about vein disease, including the idea that there is no need to seek treatment for problems like varicose or spider veins unless they cause physical pain, which happens to be a very late symptom in this insidious disease. 

Varicose veins are a sign of vascular insufficiency and compromise and can lead to worsening pain and swelling or tired and achy legs. Without treatment, those suffering from varicose veins are likely to experience continuing pain, fatigue, and swelling of the legs and ankles. In more serious situations, patients can develop Edema (an excess of watery fluid collecting in the leg tissue), Deep or Superficial Vein Thrombosis (blood clots in the leg), and even venous ulcers.

SVT and DVT are especially serious symptoms. If left undiagnosed, the thrombosis may eventually block the entire vein and endanger the health of the leg. Alternatively, a piece of the blockage, called an embolism, may break off and travel to the lung causing chest pain and difficulty breathing or even threaten life.

MYTH 4 | INSURANCE DOES NOT COVER VARICOSE VEIN TREATMENT

Varicose vein treatment is almost always covered by insurance. In our experience, the initial diagnostic evaluation for venous disease is covered more than 90% of the time.

Recent studies have shown the importance of treating chronic venous hypertension and varicose veins to prevent the morbidity of disease associated with it. The earlier vein disease is treated, the more successful it is, and for patients and the insurance companies, the more cost effective it is. The insurance coverage is determined by a diagnostic evaluation performed by a qualified phlebologist using ultrasonography.

MYTH 5 | VEIN STRIPPING IS THE BEST WAY TO TREAT VARICOSE VEINS

Outdated techniques like vein stripping are sadly still being used by some physicians. This is an old-fashioned treatment which works less than half the time, is painful, fraught with complications and often makes matters worsem and required 7 to 8 weeks of recovery time.

Ultrasound guided Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) by a Board Certified Phlebologist is over 98% effective for virtually painlessly and permanently treating varicose veins with little, if any, side effects in an outpatient setting. Typically, patients are able to drive away to return to work or household duties the same day.

MYTH 6 |   VEIN DISEASE IS A SIGN OF AGING AND ONLY OCCURS IN OLDER ADULTS.

Increasing age is a slight risk factor for varicose veins because of wear and tear on the vein valves that regulate blood flow. Patients certainly perceive it as more common as they age because the disease has had longer to make its symptoms known and is more advanced and has done more damage.

However, the primary cause of vein disease, accounting for about 80% of cases, is hereditary. It is not at all unusual to find varicose veins in young adults and, even teenagers. The best advice is to be guided by symptoms, not by age.

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