Varicose veins used to be viewed as just something to expect when you got older — like wrinkles and gray hair! In fact, in all but the most extreme cases of varicose veins, most general physicians rarely recommended their patients see a vein doctor about potential varicose vein treatment. They just didn’t understand the medical need. Thankfully, the understanding that varicose veins can pose a significant medical problem has risen significantly across the entire medical community in the last decade or so.
But… do ALL legs with varicose veins (or spider veins) actually need varicose vein treatment for medical purposes? In other words, should you automatically assume there is a medical or functional need for varicose vein treatment if you have visible varicose veins on your legs?
The answers to these important questions were actually resolved through careful scientific evaluation of thousands of people more than two decades ago! However, it took a decade or more for most doctors to catch wind of this, unless they happened to specialize in this specific branch of medicine. It took the popular press even longer to catch on to this.
So, what is the answer? Is there a medical need, or functional need, for varicose vein treatment if there are visible varicose veins in the legs or not?
Answer: In about eighty percent of the cases, yes! In about twenty percent of the cases, no!
Specifically, in the first major study that looked carefully at this, twenty-one percent of all legs with visible varicose veins did not show any functional abnormality, or at least not enough to rise to the level of needing varicose vein treatment. So, in the twenty-one percent of those with varicose veins, there would be no medical need to perform treatments like sclerotherapy, laser therapy, or radio-frequency. In other words, ablating the problem vein to take it out of the circulatory system would not be necessary to control issues like edema and the accumulation of toxins in this fluid.
More recent studies have shown similar results. In about one-fifth of the cases where a patient presents with visible signs of varicose veins in her legs, there is no significant venous reflux when a duplex ultrasound scan is done. Furthermore, in those patients with no signs of varicose veins (or spider veins) but significant symptoms of venous disease, including edema in the calf or below, or hyper-pigmentation in the calf or below, about one-quarter show evidence of venous reflux with duplex ultrasound.
Now, keep in mind, even if you do not need varicose vein treatment for medical reasons, i.e. functional reasons, you still may desire varicose vein treatment for cosmetic reasons. And… before you let anyone ridicule you for wanting treatment for cosmetic purposes, keep in mind that sometimes cosmetic varicose vein treatment can do a lot to lift your confidence and self-esteem so it can provide a highly positive benefit even if your vein doctor determines you don’t need varicose vein treatment for medical reasons.
Do keep in mind also that your insurance company will likely not pay for cosmetic varicose vein treatment. In some cases, however, people go in for varicose vein treatment because they don’t like the look of their varicose veins, only to discover there is a medical need for the treatment that they did not know about.
If you do have visible varicose veins or spider veins that are not currently causing venous reflux, edema, pain in your legs, etc, this is still a good reason to get at least yearly checkups with a varicose vein treatment clinic to make sure there hasn’t been a change in this. Having visible varicose veins puts you into a higher risk category for developing venous reflux, edema, and other issues associated with chronic venous insufficiency as you get older.
It is always best to have your veins evaluated by the best varicose vein treatment clinic you can find. Vascular disease is a highly specialized area of medicine and you want to be evaluated by a vein doctor who has years of very specific experience in this field. You also want to work with an experienced staff who are thoroughly knowledgeable about varicose vein disease.
You’ll find this degree of expertise and experience at Metro Vein Centers, one of the top rated varicose vein treatment clinics in the country. Luckily, Metro Vein Centers has several locations in several states so you may find one near you if you check out their website. As an added bonus, your first vein evaluation at Metro Vein Centers is free!