Dr. Mimi Lee wants to make sure you have the answers you need about varicose vein and spider vein issues. Below are questions she often receives. If you need additional information, please feel free to contact her or a member of her team at 501-588-7824.
- What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are abnormal, enlarged veins on the skin surface that are usually caused by abnormal internal veins. In healthy leg veins, blood is carried from the legs back up to the heart effectively with one-way valves in the veins. However, patients with varicose veins often have damaged vein valves. As a result, blood leaks downward to the lower legs from gravity effect. This abnormal downward flow in the leg veins is medically known as “Venous Reflux.” The pressure build up in the lower leg is known as “Venous Hypertension.”
- What are common symptoms of varicose veins?
These symptoms are usually worse at the end of the day but improve with rest or by elevating your legs. Effective treatment of these diseased veins usually eliminates the symptoms.If left untreated, varicose veins always worsen and may lead to major complications, such as:
• Blood Clots
• Skin discoloration, inflammation, and infection
• Venous ulceration and even limb-threatening amputation in later stages of diseaseTo prevent long-term complications, don’t ignore varicose veins and symptoms of venous reflux and hypertension.
- What causes varicose veins?
Several factors contribute to varicose veins. The most important, but unchangeable, factor is genetics. A genetic tendency causes veins to weaken and wear out over time. The greater this genetic tendency, the sooner it happens.Other contributing factors include:
• Being overweight
• Estrogen/progesterone containing medications
• Previous blood clots
• Standing for long periods of timeIn most cases, you can’t do anything to prevent varicose veins. However, if you receive effective treatment early enough, complications such as skin changes, blood clots, and ulcers can be prevented and symptoms can be relieved.
- How are varicose veins treated?
Technological advances and physician expertise have revolutionized venous disease treatment. Most new treatments are:
• Non-invasive or minimally invasive
• Performed in the office under local anesthesia with immediate recovery and no down-time for patients
• Ultrasound plays a critical role in diagnosing the problem from the source so Dr. Lee can customize treatment just for you.
- Are my varicose vein evaluation and treatments covered by insurance?
As a courtesy, we file insurance claims for medical evaluation (such as office visits and ultrasound studies) of symptomatic or painful varicose veins. However, the amount insurance will cover is strictly based on a patient’s individual policy. The exact coverage is not determined by our office but by the patient’s insurance company according to the patient’s individual policy. Not every patient will have the same out-of-pocket costs. Patient costs are usually defined as deductible, copay, and co-insurance. Dr. Lee encourages patients to contact their insurance before visits so patients will be aware of any out-of-pocket cost related to their care. Treatment coverage will be based on types of treatments recommended.
- Is the VenefitTM (ClosureFAST) procedure covered by insurance?
Many insurance carriers provide coverage for Endovenous Radiofrequency Ablation or The VenefitTM/ ClosureFAST procedure, including Medicare, TriCare, Blue Cross Blue Shields, United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna, AMCO, Coresource, Qualchoice, and most commercial insurances. Dr. Lee’s staff can discuss cost, insurance coverage (including your specific insurance plan), etc., in greater detail during your consultation visit.
- Is the VenaSeal™ Procedure covered by insurance?
Although this is a medical procedure for treatment of venous reflux disease, it is currently NOT covered by most health insurance because it is a newer, not an established treatment option. Hopefully with time, this will be included in insurance coverage policy. Even if insurance coverage isn’t available, please know that Dr. Lee offers this treatment at a reasonable cost for self-pay patients and we also provide financing through CareCredit. We recommend consulting with your accountant as this medical expense may possibly qualify for tax deduction and payment using Health Saving Account.
- What are spider veins?
Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, are abnormally dilated blood vessels in the skin. They usually appear on the legs but can also occur on the face, chest, arms, hands, and back.Although usually a cosmetic issue, spider veins can cause the same symptoms as much larger varicose veins, including:
• Heaviness, and
• Fatigue in the legs
- What causes spider veins?
Spider veins may develop in two ways:
1) Tiny pre-existing veins can enlarge and become dilated over time.
2) Or your body actually grows new veins where it doesn’t need them – in the skin.Pregnancy, estrogen-containing medications, and fluctuating hormones may also stimulate spider vein appearance; thus, spider veins are more common in women.The tendency to develop abnormal veins is largely hereditary, and there is not much you can do to prevent them. Support hose, exercise, and dietary supplements are helpful for symptoms, but do not prevent new spider veins (or varicose veins) from appearing. In some cases, spider veins may indicate larger diseased veins underneath the skin.Dr. Lee may use ultrasound to search for any hidden diseased veins. If larger diseased veins are found, they will need to be treated first or spider vein treatment will be ineffective.
- How are spider veins treated?
Spider veins are not essential and abnormal appearing veins. Sclerotherapy is a standard treatment for spider veins. A medication is gently injected into the abnormal veins causing them to shrink and disappear.Dr. Lee uses “Asclera” for sclerotherapy because it is very gentle and literally painless, compared to saline injection. Blood is re-routed into nearby healthy veins. Immediately following treatment, spider veins may get inflamed and/or bruised.This resolves with time as the body absorbs the veins. Typically 2-3 treatment sessions are necessary for optimal lasting results.
- Are cosmetic spider vein or hand vein evaluation and sclerotherapy treatment covered by insurance?
Dr. Lee charges a small consultation fee for cosmetic spider vein and hand vein evaluation. Cosmetic sclerotherapy procedures are not covered by health insurance. Dr. Lee’s charges are very competitively priced, and Dr. Lee is an expert in this procedure and she personally performs the procedure to assure safety and excellent results.The cost varies based on amount of veins treated and amount of medication used (determined at the consultation visit).Dr. Lee also posts special promotions in emails, Facebook, and Twitter when they are available.