Women, especially those who have had multiple pregnancies, are three times more likely than men to develop venous disorders such as painful varicose veins or unsightly spider veins. We talked with Marla Beeler, nurse practitioner with the Clark Memorial Vein Center team, about how modern treatments can make the difference for patients with vein problems.
What are the most common problems the Vein Center addresses?
The most common problems we see are painful, swollen legs that have not responded to compression stockings or other conservative measures. The pain and swelling caused by varicose veins affect the patient’s ability to rest at night, stand or sit for prolonged periods of time.
What misconceptions exist concerning vein health or treatment?
Most people aren’t aware that the older treatments, such as vein stripping, are rarely used anymore. We now offer treatments that do not require general anesthesia, such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or Vena Seal. RFA is a procedure where the skin is numbed and a small catheter is placed into the vein. This is gently heated (which the patient cannot feel) and the vein closes due to the heat. Vena Seal is the same procedure but uses a medical grade adhesive to “glue” the vein closed. This allows the body to use the healthy veins of the leg instead of the incompetent varicose veins. Our procedures are done under local anesthesia, take about one hour or less, and the patient returns to work that day.
Another common misconception is that vein procedures are only cosmetic. If a patient has symptoms associated with varicose veins, insurance will now cover the corrective treatment.
What kind of treatment is available for spider veins?
We offer sclerotherapy to treat spider veins. This is performed in our office with a solution called Asclera, which is placed into the veins, causing them to close. Over time the spider veins permanently disappear. Sclerotherapy is not covered by insurance, but the fee at our Vein Center is priced per vial instead of per treatment like many other centers, so patients will only pay for what they need.
Can you share a patient success story?
We had a patient who had been battling unsightly, painful and swollen legs due to numerous varicose veins. She works on her feet all day as a teacher. She also had spider veins that kept her from wearing shorts or sandals during warm weather. When I first met her, she was most concerned about the pain and swelling she experienced while standing, but she also wanted to treat the unsightly spider veins.
We performed an ultrasound that confirmed her veins were not working as efficiently as they should, which is a disease called venous insufficiency. We then worked with her insurance, which gave the approval to pay for her treatment as a medical necessity. Dr. Hennig, our double-board-certified cardiothoracic and general surgeon, performed the Vena Seal procedure on her legs to resolve the varicose vein symptoms.
The patient had her procedure on a Tuesday and by that Friday was in joyful tears after her varicose veins had already visibly decreased in size. She had no more pain or swelling and was elated with the results. We also treated her spider veins, which have now disappeared, and she is ready for summer, shorts and sandals.
To schedule a consultation about venous disease or spider veins with the Clark Memorial Vein Center team, call 812.280.1419.