Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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What are Varicose Veins?

Healthy and Diseased Vein ValvesVaricose veins are dilated superficial veins in the legs. Veins of the legs contain one-way valves that allow the blood to flow upwards toward the heart from the feet and from the superficial veins into the deep veins. When these valves don’t function properly, the blood slips past these leaky valves and flows backwards toward the feet and into the superficial veins. The highly pressurized blood pools in the superficial veins, causing the veins to stretch and become larger.

Varicose veins are usually lumpy, twisted, bulging, and somethings bluish in color. They sometimes look like cords. Sometimes varicose veins can lie deep in the leg and cannot be seen with the eye. Ultrasound imaging is used to determine if you have this type of varicose veins.

What is superficial venous reflux?

Superficial venous reflux (often the underlying cause of varicose veins) is a condition that develops when the valves that usually keep blood flowing up out of your legs become damaged or diseased. This causes blood to pool in your legs. Common symptoms of superficial venous reflux include pain, swelling, leg heaviness and fatigue, as well as varicose veins in your legs.

What type of procedure do you use to treat these conditions?

Our procedure is a minimally invasive treatment for superficial venous reflux; utilizing radiofrequency ablation. A thin catheter is inserted into the vein through a small opening. The catheter delivers thermal energy to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse, and seal shut.

How does it work to treat superficial venous reflux?

Since valves can’t be repaired, the only alternative is to re-route blood flow through healthy veins. Traditionally, this has been done by surgically removing (stripping) the troublesome vein from your leg. Our procedure provides a less invasive alternative to vein stripping by simply closing the problem vein instead. Once the diseased vein is closed, other healthy veins take over and empty blood from your legs.

How is this procedure different from vein stripping?

During a stripping procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in your groin and ties off the vein, after which a stripper tool is threaded through the saphenous vein and used to pull the vein out of your leg through a second incision just above your calf. 

With our procedure, there is no need for groin surgery. Instead, the vein remains in place and is closed using a special catheter inserted through a small puncture. This may eliminate the bruising and pain often associated with vein stripping (i.e., that may result from the tearing of side branch veins while the saphenous vein is pulled out). Vein stripping is usually performed in an operating room, under a general anesthetic, while our procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, typically using local or regional anesthesia.

Is the procedure painful?

Although some people are more sensitive than others, patients generally report little pain.

Will the procedure require any anesthesia?

Our procedure can be performed under local, regional, or general anesthesia.

How quickly after treatment can I return to normal activities?

Many patients typically return to normal activities within 1-2 days. For a few weeks following the treatment, your doctor may recommend a regular walking regimen and suggest you refrain from very strenuous activities (heavy lifting, for example) or prolonged periods of standing.

How soon after treatment will my symptoms improve?

Many patients experience immediate relief from their worst symptoms right after treatment. But most patients report a noticeable improvement in their symptoms within 1-2 weeks following the procedure.

Is there any scarring, bruising, or swelling after the procedure?

Patients report minimal to no scarring, bruising, or swelling following the procedure.

Is this procedure suitable for everyone?

Only a physician can tell you if the procedure is a viable option for your vein problem. Experience has shown that many patients with superficial venous reflux disease can be treated with the procedure.

Is age an important consideration?

The most important step in determining whether or not this treatment is appropriate for you is a complete ultrasound examination by your physician or qualified clinician. Age alone is not a factor in determining whether or not the procedure is appropriate for you. This procedure has been used to treat patients across a wide range of ages.

What happens to the treated vein left behind in the leg?

The vein simply becomes fibrous tissue after treatment. Over time, the vein will gradually incorporate into surrounding tissue.

Is this treatment covered by my insurance?

Many insurance companies are paying for the procedure in part or in full. Most insurance companies determine coverage for all treatments, including this procedure, based on medical necessity. This procedure has positive coverage policies with most major health insurers. Your physician can discuss your insurance coverage further at the time of your first appointment.

What about swollen legs?

In many cases, leg swelling is a result of superficial venous reflux and can be treated successfully by this procedure.

Can you help treat leg ulcers?

We have successfully treated many patients whose leg ulcers were a result of venous insufficiency. Our physicians will be able to determine if your condition can be improved with this procedure.

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