Summertime means shorts and swimsuits. Our team wants to answer your questions on veins and healthy legs.
Q: When treating spider veins, what is the best method for treatment: sclerotherapy or laser therapy?
A: Both treatment methods can be effective. Spider veins, or telangiectasia, are abnormal veins less than 1 millimeter in diameter. Sclerotherapy, VeinInnovations preferred method, involves the use of a tiny needle to inject medicine into the veins to close them down. Bleaching creams, topical herbal remedies, and oral medication do not work, as spider veins are caused by malfunctioning valves in the veins.
Q: How do I know if I have spider veins, varicose veins, or actual vein disease?
A: Spider veins are typically a blue/purple/red collection of veins that are small in diameter and flat to the surface of the leg. Varicose veins are the larger, ropey-like veins that protrude from the skin and are larger in diameter. The diagnosis of vein disease is determined by an ultrasound examination. The technologist looks at how the blood flow is moving in the leg and can detect reflux or the backward movement of blood in the greater saphenous vein. That is the major vein that is treated if we find venous disease.
Q: What is the current treatment for vein disease?
A: The treatment involves closing down the malfunctioning veins. A catheter (wire) is placed in the abnormal vein, and radio-frequency or laser energy is delivered to the inside of the vein to shut it down completely. It is done in the office, does not require general anesthesia, and patients can resume normal activities immediately. These ablation procedures have replaced vein stripping, which is now obsolete.
Q: Is there any new technology for the treatment of vein disease?
A. VeinInnovations has been asked to be the principal investigator for a brand-new procedure that involves a newly invented catheter. Our initial testing of this device was done last year, and we believe it has the promise to be a major advancement in vein treatment as it doesn’t involve heat or any sort of foreign body. It is also painless, and requires no anesthesia of any kind, nor does it require the use of compression stockings after the procedure. Because it uses no heat, it can treat the entire leg safely, and because it requires no anesthesia, more than one leg can be treated at a single session. The hope is that this will be ready for general use sometime in the coming year.
Q: How much does the treatment of spider veins cost?
A: In some cases, heath insurance covers the treatment. For situations in which treatment is considered cosmetic, the cost varies depending on the extent of the spider veins. For an isolated area, treatment takes about 15-30 minutes and is $200. Depending on the area of veins, treatment can require multiple sessions. Proper evaluation of spider veins includes a vein screening to check for venous reflux of deeper veins. At Vein Innovations, we offer a free cosmetic screening that includes an ultrasound.
Q: My legs feel restless. Do I have Restless Legs Syndrome?
A: Maybe. The urge to move your legs to relieve unusual sensations and the temporary relief of symptoms with movement are the hallmarks of RLS, a neurological disorder. But these same symptoms can be caused by other disorders, such as venous reflux disease. Proper diagnosis includes an evaluation by your physician, as well as a venous ultrasound to check for venous reflux disease. When restless legs are caused by venous disease, after treatment, many patients find significant relief of those symptoms.