What are Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
Your circulatory system is comprised of two systems: veins and arteries. Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the extremities while veins carry oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. The source of the pressure pushing the blood through the arteries is the heart.
Since there is no heart in your legs to pump the blood back up veins use a unique process to return the blood fromthe extremeites back to the heart. Your muscles contract and squeeze the blood up through the veins and then small one way valves prevent blood from flowing backwards. In a normal healthy situation the blood ebbs and tides its way back to the heart.
If the valves don't function well, the blood will not flow effectively back to the heart. When the valves don't work the blood falls backwards and pools inside the vein causing the vein to become congested with bloood and enlarged. These dysfunctional veins are commonly called spider veins or varicose veins.
Spider veins and varicose veins are actually the same problem but differ only in size. In other words, they are both situations of malfunctioning veins. Spider veins are small red, blue or purple veins on the surface of the skin and varicose veins are slightly deeper and are larger and their distention makes them look like ropes worming their way under the skin.
When the veins don't work well and blood is not flowing correctly the patient can feel symptoms that are often associated with this bad circulation. Symptoms include pain, swelling, feelings of fatigue, heaviness, aching, burning, throbbing, itching, cramping.
Severe varicose veins can compromise the health of the skin and lead to eczema, inflammation or even ulcerations (wounds) of the lower leg. These symptoms are often made worse by prolonged standing or sitting.
What is Phlebology?
Phlebology is the specialty of medicine devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of vein diseases. Modern treatment focuses on improving long-term function and cosmetic results. The American College of Phlebology (ACP) is the largest medical society in the United States for specialists trained and experienced in the field of venous disease.
What types of vein problems does a phlebologist treat?
Spider veins and varicose veins are the most common vein problem, but other problems include:
- Chronically swollen legs
- Recurrent infections
- Stasis eczema
- Pregnancy-related problems
- Non-healing leg sores
- Deep Venous Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism
How are Spider Veins and Varicose Veins treated?
There are essentially only 3 options:
|Surgery for varicose veins||Although surgery can stop the leakage of varicose veins and remove bad veins, most patients are reluctant to have surgery. There are many risks with surgery including a one third chance of developing blood clots, a risk of bleeding and a risk of infection. Surgery will also leave scars on the legs, sometimes very disfiguring. There is also a risk with the general anesthesia that will be required for surgical ligation and stripping. Surgery is the absolute last resort. Only 1% of our patients need surgery.|
|Sclerotherapy for spider veins and for varicose veins||Most patients can be treated non-surgically, using the latest and safest improvements in technology. From the largest varicose veins to the tiniest spider veins, most problem veins today can be treated with sclerotherapy. Most patients can obtain 80-90% clearance.|
|Endovenous Laser Treatment(EVLT) for varicose veins||When a large truncal varicose vein such as the Greater Saphenous Vein is involved, EVLT is the cutting edge procedure for treatment. Using laser technology now even the worst and largest veins can be treated on an outpatient basis 98% of the time.|
|Closure (Radio Frequency Ablation) and Amubulatory Phlebectomy for varicose veins||Although older options they are still available. Closure was an excellent alternative to Ligation and Stripping (surgery), but EVLT is now a far superior treatment which is more comfortable and can treat larger veins. Ambulatory phlebectomy is useful in limited situations where sclerotherapy is contraindicated (not safe or ineffective), such as large painful varicose veins on the foot and ankle bone.|
Discomfort after treatment is rare. Most of our patients (99%) leave our office and go directly back to work or to the gym. We recommend that patients walk as much as possible after each treatment. You can even resume your normal low impact exercise program immediately.
What is Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins?
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical office procedure that can treat most diseased surface veins. The doctor uses a tiny needle to inject a small amount of medicine into the bad vein. The medication stimulates the body's own natural healing factors to get rid of the bad spider vein and actually improve the circulation and appearance of the legs.
What is EVLT for Varicose Veins?
A novel technique invented by Dr. Robert Min at Cornell University, Endovenous Laser treatment (EVLT) or Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) is a procedure for the treatment of varicose veins; it is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia which means you can resume your normal activities almost immediately. EVLT utilizes laser energy delivered endovenously (directly inside the vein) as a treatment developed to treat the worst varicose veins. Endovenous laser treatment is performed under local anesthesia in the doctor's office. There is little to no scarring and a relative short recovery period after the procedure.
Diagnosis before treatment of Spider Veins and Varicose Veins!
Diagnosis starts with a careful history and a physical exam. Diagnostic Tests for varicose veins and spider veins are often needed to evaluate the extent of disease and to determine safety of treatment. For varicose veins it is mandatory; no one should treat a varicose vein with any treatment without diagnostic evaluation of the varicose vein. If treatment is indicated, each treatment takes between 15-60 minutes. The number of treatments depends on the severity of the problem.
Insurance Coverage for treating Varicose Veins
The diagnosis and treatment of significant vein problems due to diseased veins are covered by most insurance companies. Spider veins are considered cosmetic veins and usually are not covered. Varicose veins can have medical significance and be covered by most commercial insurance plans. Our evaluation can usually tell whether diseased varicose veins are causing medically significant problems or whether the problem is strictly cosmetic.
Why Elite Medical Cosmetic Centers?
The bottom line is EXPERTISE!
With 24 years of experience in Phlebology, our medical director is actively involved in phlebology. He has been a member of the American College of Phlebology (ACP) for 17 years and he has served on the Education Committee of The ACP for 2 years. He is one of the United States' recognized top experts in the field of Phlebology, has lectured all over the world, trained doctors all over the U.S., and has written many articles in the field of vein medicine. In 2001 he collaborated with five other international experts on one of the most definitive textbooks in the field.
Our state-of-the-art equipment helps us to make an accurate diagnosis before we consider any treatment. We have the cutting edge treatments that are successful intreating the worst veins without surgery over 95% of the time.
Venous disease is our specialty. Our practice is dedicated to the best treatment for spider veins and for varicose veins. We are located in convenient locations in Studio City, Pasadena, and Palos Verdes.
Treating Spider Veins and Varicose Veins in Los Angeles
Just pick up the telephone and call our office at 310-271-5875. We have brochures on vein disease and treatment, patient education literature, articles and many other resources we'll be glad to share with you.