5 Facts Everyone Should Know
Pesky, puffy and sometimes painful, varicose veins affect half of all
Americans over the age of 50. For the most part, they don’t cause medical
but when they do, there are many treatment options.
However, a growing number of insurance companies now require members to
have their venous treatment procedures at vein centers that have been
accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC).
Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
(CVI) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is home to one of these
accredited vein centers. It’s one of the few groups in the Boston area to
gain recognition and accreditation by meeting or exceeding the IAC’s high
standards for quality and safety.
The division is also home to an IAC-accredited Vascular Laboratory, which
provides diagnostic testing and screening for both venous and arterial
disease. These conditions include varicose veins as well as abdominal
aortic aneurysm, carotid artery disease, peripheral arterial disease (PAD),
venous reflux, renal disease and intestinal disorders. With more than 70
years of combined experience, the lab’s technologists are all specially
licensed in vascular ultrasound.
Both the Vein Center and the Vascular Lab are directed by
Dr. Allen Hamdan
Varicose Veins 101
As common as varicose veins are, people still have many misconceptions
about them. It’s time to separate fact from fiction! Here are the five
things you need to know about varicose veins:
1. What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen veins that bulge out from the surface of your
skin. They can be red, blue or flesh-colored. They’re most often found on
your legs. People often confuse varicose veins with spider veins; spider
veins are usually much smaller and closer to the surface of the skin.
2. What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins carry blood from all over your body back to your heart, and they have
one-way valves that help keep the blood flowing in the right direction. If
these valves are weak or damaged, the blood backs up and pools in your
veins. This causes the veins to swell. Over time, this swelling can cause
3. Are You at Risk for Varicose Veins?
There are many factors that increase your risk of developing varicose
Half of all people with varicose veins have other family members with
The risk of varicose veins increases with age. The older you are, the
more likely that the valves in your veins will weaken and not work as
Women get varicose veins more often than men. This is likely due to
hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy and menopause, or from the
use of birth control pills.
Those extra pregnancy pounds can do a number on your veins.
Fortunately, pregnancy-related varicose veins usually clear up within
three to 12 months after delivery.
overweight or obese
strains your veins.
If you’ve previously had blood clots or any kind of damage to the
valves in your veins, they may not be able to move blood back to your
heart very well.
4. What Can You Do if You Have Varicose Veins?
Varicose vein treatments have three main goals: to relieve symptoms,
prevent complications and improve appearance. Most people start by making
Reducing the amount of time that they stand or sit
Wearing compression stockings
Wearing low-heeled shoes to tone the calf muscles
Losing weight if they need to
Exercising to move blood through the veins and improve muscle tone
Elevating your feet and legs above the heart periodically
Simple strategies like these offer relief to many varicose vein sufferers.
Patients can develop complications from varicose veins that may include
painful clots (phlebitis). Infrequently, a more severe form of venous
insufficiency can lead to deep blood clots, ulcers, sores, and fluid
5. What are my Other Treatment Options?
If you’ve tried lifestyle changes for varicose veins without much relief,
there are several medical procedures that can help. Those available in the
CVI’s Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery include:
Sclerotherapy and Veinwave:
These procedures lead to either chemical- or heat-related irritation
that eventually closes off the vein, which then fades away.
Radiofrequency ablation (Venefit):
A catheter is used to apply radiofrequency energy to shrink and close
the varicose vein. Most patients can resume normal activity in just one
Your doctor makes small cuts in your skin and removes the varicose
veins that are closest to the skin’s surface.
Vein stripping and ligation:
Used only for the most severe cases. Your doctor makes small cuts in
your skin, removes veins and ties others closed.
No matter which medical procedure you choose, it’s a good idea to have it
done at an accredited Vein Center, like the one at the CVI. When you choose
an accredited vein center, you’ll have less worry about insurance coverage.
Plus, you’ll know that the care you receive meets or exceeds the national
standard of excellence in vein care, wound care and vascular ultrasound
Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult