‘Tis the Season to Treat Leg Veins Fa-La-La-La-Laser Ablation, Winter 2014 Newsletter

I had a fascinating consult recently that I’d like to share with you. HIPAA rules guarding patient confidentiality forbid me to disclose the identity of the patient, but let’s just say that “Mr. C” (a resident of the way way North suburbs) presented with complaints of lower extremity discomfort, swelling, heaviness, fatigue, cramping and restless legs. Mr. C feels particularly bad at the end of a long day working in manufacturing and distribution of pediatric amusement products (it was especially bad after an overnight shift on the 24th of December). Over the past 30 years, he has noticed a steadily increasing amount of bulging veins and spider veins on his legs, particularly on the inner aspect of his thighs and on the back of his legs. Both his mother and father had the same issue.

Given the high likelihood of finding underlying problems, I recommended that Mr. C allow me to take a look at his superficial venous system by doing an ultrasound examination. Once out of his curiously familiar-looking large red jumpsuit, Mr. C. put on a pair of very stylish paper shorts to allow for easier viewing of the veins in question. I found that multiple superficial veins on both lower extremities had malfunctioning valves. These valves, which ordinarily prevent downward “reflux”, were not doing their job and consequently allowed pooling of blood in Mr. C’s superficial veins. Over time, the increased pressure due to pooling leads to bulging of veins and symptoms consistent with what Mr. C had been experiencing.

The good news, as I explained to Mr. C, is that this condition is easily treatable nowadays. While patients in previous decades had to undergo invasive, surgical procedures such as vein stripping, technology has advanced to the point where superficial venous insufficiency can now be taken care of in an outpatient setting using minimally-invasive techniques and under local anesthetic alone. Another misconception that I cleared up for Mr. C is that Medicare and most commercial insurance carriers will cover such procedures (and most times will cover sclerotherapy treatment of associated varicose and spider veins). After hearing about Medicare coverage, the jolly guy got even jollier!

If you, like Mr. C, have had nagging issues with leg veins for years, winter is the perfect time to see me in consultation and receive a treatment plan tailored to your particular needs. I ho ho hope to see you soon!