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Top 10 Important Questions to Ask Before Vein Surgery

Top 10 Important Questions to Ask Before Vein Surgery

Posted on April 1, 2014 by Dr. Stephen Rivard


1. What special training or certification do you have in vein care and where did you receive your training?

When searching for someone to treat your varicose veins, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to find someone who has demonstrated their commitment to the practice of Phlebology - the study, diagnosis, and treatment of vein disease - through their membership and board certification with the American College of Phlebology (now known as Venous and Lymphatic Medicine).  

As a member of this society your varicose vein doctor will be held to the highest standards of venous care providing specialized training in both the treatment of venous and lymphatic disease and diagnostic ultrasound.


2. What is your primary speciality and are you board certified in this area of practice?

For doctors performing varicose and spider vein treatment, the proper Board Certification is that of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine (previously known as Phlebology). There are many doctors who specialize in a number of various practices (often under one roof), and while they may be very good at their primary specialty, you owe it to yourself to find someone that has received the right training and experience to properly diagnose and treat your vein disease.  You wouldn’t expect your family practice doctor to also do your veins.


3. What percentage of your practice do you devote to vein disease?

The answer to this question should be 100%.  Why seek treatment for your veins - when varicose vein disease is real disease- from anyone other than a doctor who only practices varicose vein treatment.


4. Are you a member of a professional Phlebology or Venous and Lymphatic Disease society?

Again, the answer should be yes and the American College of Phlebology (now known as Venous and Lymphatic Medicine) is the most established.


5. Are you a Diplomate of any Phlebology or Venous and Lymphatic Disease society?

Diplomate status for any society means that the physician has passed a comprehensive and rigorous examination process demonstrating both treatment and diagnostic techniques, and also has been recommended by his or her peers as qualified.  Once the physician has passed this examination the are considered Board Certified- in the case of vein care the certification would be board certification from the American College of Phlebology (now known as Venous and Lymphatic Disease). 


6. Are you trained to use an ultrasound?

This is important for a number of reasons. First, the ultrasound is a primary diagnostic tool used in varicose vein care to properly determine the source and gravity of your vein disease through the use of a doppler duplex ultrasound. Second, modern methods of treatment require the use of an ultrasound to effectively guide the endovenous laser that is used to treat your damaged or disease veins. By using the ultrasound your Phlebologist can see the laser in the veins ensuring the effectiveness of the treatment and reducing the pain and time required.


7. What procedures do you perform, how many have you done, and who actually performs the procedures?

There are a number of modern treatment methods available today.  Some of the most commonly used methods for treating your varicose veins are: Endovenous Laser Therapy or Ablation (EVLT), Micro-Phlebectomy, and Radio Frequency.  Some of the common spider vein treatments are: sclerotherapy, pulsed light therapy, and the use of the VeinLite for transilluminated scerlotherapy. 

If your doctor only specializes in Venous and Lymphatic Medicine, then they should be fairly experienced.  At a minimum they should have over 300 procedures successfully completed as the requirements for Board certification request a minimum 150 procedures before sitting for the exam.  If they have practiced and have greater expertise, your Phlebologist may have successfully completed thousands of procedures.

Although it is common for spider vein treatment to be performed by a Phlebologist (Venous and Lymphatic Disease) or a trained sclerotherapist who focuses their time solely on that particular procedure, your Board Certified Venous and Lymphatic Doctor should be the only one performing any varicose vein treatment.


8. Will I need more than one procedure?  Why or why not?

This is a common question that we get at Illinois Vein Specialists.  The answer, as many medical questions go, depends on the particular person, their medical history, the advancement of their disease, and a number of other factors.  However, it is common for patient that suffer from varicose vein disease (venous hypertension) to require treatment on both legs, and frequently on more than one vein in each leg. 


9. What are the complications that you have seen with these procedures?

This is another common question, and only natural. The truth is that the modern treatment of venous hypertension or varicose vein disease using methods like EVLT have demonstrated consistent success rates of over 98% with practically no signs of recurrence.  If your Venous and Lymphatic Disease doctor is experienced the procedure should leave no complications, but if performed incorrectly by someone inexperienced the most common complication is really the ineffectiveness or inadequacy of the treatment overall, leaving you to seek further treatment down the road.


10. What kind of follow-up will I need, and what can I do to prevent recurrence?

Generally, patients receiving varicose vein treatment will have scheduled follow-ups for at least the first year after treatment, but can extend to two years depending on the progression or severity of the disease.  Follow up treatments may involve minor sclerotherapy sessions to remove branch spider veins, or an additional ultrasound to ensure that the veins have been fully treated, and your doctor should recommend you wear compression stockings to help the recovery process.

As mentioned above, recurrence rates are extremely low (less than 2%), but this really depends on receiving the right care. If your varicose vein treatment is properly performed by an experienced and Board Certified Venous and Lymphatic Disease specialist your varicose veins should not return. 


Our Philosophy. Find a Board Certified Venous and Lymphatic Doctor.

At Illinois Vein Specialists, we care just as much about the medicine and the specialized practice of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine (previously Phlebology) as we do our patients. We understand that when you choose a doctor you want to go to someone you know, like and trust, and honestly so do we. We know that patients come to us most often from satisfied patient referrals, but we encourage you to do your own research and ask around. In the end no matter where you live or who you decide to have treat your varicose or spider veins find someone who focuses only on diagnosing and treating varicose and spider veins -- find a Board Certified Venous and Lymphatic Disease Specialist.

For more info download our Free Patient Guide!

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