Frequently Asked Questions
The obvious visual symptoms of vein disease are bulging, ropey or rope-like varicose veins and spider veins. But you do not have to have visible varicose veins or spider veins to have vein disease. Other less noticeable signs include:
- History of vein problems in your family
- Fatigued, tired, heavy-feeling legs
- Leg pain caused by prolonged standing or sitting
- Itching, tingling, numbness, cramping or burning in the legs or feet
- Swollen ankles at the end of the day
- Discoloration of the skin in the lower legs
- Open sores or ulcers of the lower legs and ankles
- Cramps that wake you up at night or a diagnosis of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
The symptoms of vein disease may be gradual or rapid in onset, and in most cases there is a family history of vein problems. If you have any ONE of these symptoms you may have vein disease and need to schedule an appointment at Vein Memphis for an insurance or Medicare covered consultation and evaluation.
The term ‘varicose veins‘ is often used to describe everything from smaller, spider veins (red or blue veins on the surface of the skin) up to true varicose veins (swollen, bulging veins with a rope-like appearance). Varicose veins are quite common, with one in three women and one in five men experience problems. Varicose vein symptoms can include swelling, tiredness, heavy feeling, leg fatigue, leg pain, as well as burning and itching sensations.
Varicose veins are almost always associated with venous reflux. This occurs when the valves in the leg veins don’t work well, and backward blood flow causes pooling in the lower leg. Without treatment, the pressure this creates may increase over time and cause additional varicose veins and symptoms. People with a family history and who are older, obese or are pregnant may be at increased risk of developing varicose veins.
It is unclear if varicose veins can be prevented, but certain actions may help limit the disease’s progression and symptoms. Routine exercise, maintaining a normal weight, avoiding excessively long periods of standing or sitting, and the use of compression stockings may all help alleviate symptoms.
If you have underlying venous disease (e.g., venous reflux), the pressure created by backflow of blood and pooling in the lower legs may create a progressive condition that only gets worse with time. This may lead to additional spider veins and varicose veins, and in some cases can lead to swelling and venous ulcers at the lower calf and ankle. Only a trained vein specialist can effectively evaluate your spider veins or varicose veins.
Sometimes the same factors that helped to cause your first spider veins or varicose veins (e.g., family history, age, obesity, female hormones, etc.) will make you predisposed to develop additional vein conditions. If a specific vein is properly treated, it usually does not recur, but it is possible that other veins may become diseased. This is why it is important that even if you have what appear to be simple, cosmetic spider veins, that you consult a vein specialist who can determine if you have an underlying condition (venous reflux). If you do, and you don’t treat the cause of the problem, additional spider veins or varicose veins are likely to develop.
Procedures like sclerotherapy and Closure act to close down a faulty vein. The vein being closed is dysfunctional and is allowing blood to flow backwards and pool, so leaving it open only makes things worse. The body contains numerous other healthy veins that are still functional and can easily take up the additional flow. Treatment of the faulty veins almost always results in improved blood flow in the overall vein system.
Many vein treatments, when shown to be medically necessary, are covered by Medicare and other insurance providers. Sclerotherapy for spider veins is generally considered a cosmetic procedure and usually not covered. Consult your local insurance provider and come for our free screening to determine your eligibility and coverage.
Heredity is the number one contributing factor causing varicose and spider veins. Women are more likely to suffer from these abnormal leg veins. Up to 50% of American women may be affected. Hormonal factors include puberty, pregnancy, menopause, the use of birth control pills: estrogen and progesterone, affect the disease. Other factors that can accelerate and aggravate the appearance of veins, beyond gravity and age, include leg injury, obesity, lack of exercise, weight fluctuation, constriction and long periods of sitting or standing.
Spider veins are smaller, thread-like veins that occur near the surface of the skin and often appear on the legs or face. They can appear as red, purplish, or blue veins and often look like tree branches or spider webs with jagged edges that grow outward. Spider veins can cover a small area and avoid notice, or they can cover a larger area and become quite unsightly. It is also possible that they may enlarge over time. Some estimate that over half of all adult females will develop spider veins.
The most common cause of spider veins is genetic predisposition. They occur more frequently in women (for instance, in and around a pregnancy). They also may be the result of a traumatic injury. Spider veins on the face may be related to excessive sun exposure.
Yes. Thirty million Americans have vein disease and a large percentage of these people don’t know it. We see many patients who believe their vein problems are only cosmetic but soon realize they have a larger, underlying vein problem. Spider veins may be just the beginning symptom of vein disease. We can perform sonographic evaluation and check if venous reflux is the cause of spider veins. If that is the case, treatment is available.
The most commonly asked questions are: Do veins require treatment and what treatment would be best? At Vein Memphis, success in the treatment of varicose and spider veins is due to our comprehensive approach. Without treatment venous disease will slowly progress, and sometime lead to more serious conditions.
After obtaining a history and performing a physical exam, the patient undergoes a noninvasive Doppler ultrasound and color ultrasound imaging to determine areas of venous disease (dilated veins, faulty valves, and area of clot). Based on the above information, an individual treatment plan is formulated and discussed with the patient. Veins that are cosmetically unappealing or cause pain or other symptoms are prime for treatment.
There are seven different types of patients and vein issues that we typically see and treat:
- Patients with bulging, ropey or rope-like veins on their legs (varicose veins)
- Patients with severe leg pain or swelling and a few outwardly noticeable spider veins
- Patients with open non-healing wounds/ulcers on their lower legs and ankles
- Patients who have experienced some form of trauma to their legs which caused the venous system to become diseased
- Patients with skin discoloration of the legs and/or ankles
- Patients with cramping or RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) who cannot sleep at night because of this condition. Most of these patients also experience varying degrees of aching, throbbing, itchy, numb, burning, swollen, cramping, tired, fatigued or heavy legs and/or feet
- Patients with strictly cosmetic veins on their legs who want a cosmetically trained team to diagnose and treat their veins
- Most insurance companies and Medicare recognize vein disease as a legitimate, covered medical expense and will cover the cost of vein treatment after a period of conservative management. If you are experiencing any symptoms of vein disease it is worth finding out if your insurance provider will cover the cost of treatment.
- Vein Memphis will provide a consultation and an in-office venous ultrasound test. If you test positive for vein disease, Medicare and most insurance companies will cover the cost of the consultation, venous reflux test and varicose vein treatments. However, most insurance companies require a 6-week to 3-month period of “conservative management” before the Laser procedure can be scheduled. We will work with you to develop a conservative management plan which may include elevating your legs, minimizing prolonged periods of standing or sitting and wearing compression stockings.
- At Vein Memphis, we accept Medicare and most major insurance plans.
During the initial consultation, you and the doctor will review your medical history and current health, and discuss your concerns and expectations. Only about 40% of patients with vein disease have visible veins, so it is important for the doctor to understand the other symptoms you are experiencing. The next step is a comprehensive ultrasound test conducted by one of our Registered Vascular Technologists. The doctor will discuss the results of the test with you at a follow-up appointment and will then develop a comprehensive treatment plan for you.