An estimated 30 to 60 percent of adults suffer from leg swelling and discomfort from vein disease, especially varicose veins or spider veins. When these appear as swollen, twisted clusters near the surface of the skin, they are often thought of as a cosmetic affliction. But they may be far more than that. Not only are they embarrassing and painful, they may also signal serious health issues such as blood clots. Only a vascular specialist can properly diagnose the source of your symptoms and determine the type of treatments that will be most effective in correcting your problems.
Varicose veins and spider veins arise from venous disease. They are complex conditions that should be treated by a highly trained and experienced vein specialist.
Choosing the right provider will ensure that your condition is properly diagnosed and treated, and to help you find the right specialist, we offer the following guidelines.
First, treating vein disease should be the physician’s area of specialty. Any doctor can offer vein treatment, but that doesn’t mean this treatment is their specialty.
A vein specialist must be a physician, either a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO). Both have a bachelor’s degree followed by four years of medical school and then a residency lasting four to seven years. Some specialists also secure fellowships that provide an extended period of additional training in the treatment of vein disease.
Along with specialized training, board certification is also crucial. Board certification from a professional organization such as the American Board of Surgery indicates that the physician you choose is committed to the highest standards of care and ongoing education in the field. Much of this information can be found online, and physicians will usually have their professional certificates on display. And along with the physician’s qualifications, you might want to ask if they use registered vascular technicians (RVTs) to assist with treatment.
The physician’s equipment is another factor in your choice. The vein specialist you choose should have state-of-the-art equipment that diagnoses and treats a wide range of vascular conditions in the least invasive way possible.
You might also seek out references and referrals. Comments and recommendations from past patients are readily available online, though be careful not to let the complaints of one dissatisfied patient influence your choice. Remember that no matter your field, you’ll never satisfy everyone. You can also ask your primary care physician which vein specialist they would choose for treatment of their own vein conditions.
Don’t overlook insurance coverage. Your vein specialist can tell you if your treatment is considered medically necessary or cosmetic, and the physician’s staff should be willing to contact your insurer to ask if your procedure will be covered.
Finally, qualifications aren’t everything. You and your doctor should be a good match in personality, which helps greatly with both effective communication and treatment.