Will my insurance cover treatment of spider veins?
Answer: Nearly all insurance plans consider spider veins to be cosmetic and are unlikely to pay for treatment. If a spider vein has recurrent episodes of bleeding, insurance plans may cover treatment.
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Are varicose veins dangerous?
Answer: Some patients may live for decades with varicose veins and remain problem and pain free. Others may have pain, clotting, ulceration, or bleeding caused by their varicose veins. Many patients and even some medical professionals worry that clots in varicose veins may travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and cause death. Although clots do form more frequently in varicose veins, these clots typically cause superficial thrombophlebitis and only in a small percentage of patients do these clots propagate into the deep venous system, causing a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Patients may experience life threatening bleeding from a varicose vein, but this bleeding is easily controlled by simple pressure to the bleeding site, or elevation of the leg above the level of the heart. Stasis changes and ulceration due to venous reflux is a problem that is very difficult to deal with and often consumes considerable expense, time, and treatment at wound centers in an effort to get these ulcers to heal.
"How do you determine if I have venous reflux?"
Answer: The most accurate way to evaluate for venous reflux is to perform duplex ultrasonography--a risk free and painless measurement accomplished with sound waves. A clinical evaluation of reflux can also be accomplished by elevating a leg with varicose veins above the level of the heart and then applying tourniquet. A patient stands and releases the tourniquet. If veins below the tourniquet rapidly fill with the release of the tourniquet, then reflux is likely.
"What is duplex ultrasound?"
Duplex ultrasound combines traditional ultrasound with Doppler ultrasonography. Regular ultrasound uses sound waves that bounce off tissue and blood vessels to create pictures. Doppler ultrasound records sound waves reflecting off moving objects, such as blood, to measure their speed and the direction of flow. With a patient standing or sitting, duplex ultrasound can determine if flow in the veins is heading toward the heart (normal) or toward the feet (reflux).
How is duplex ultrasonography performed?
The exam will likely begin with you lying on a table, but will also require that you sit or stand for part of the exam. Our registered vascular technologist will spread gel over the area being tested. The gel helps the transmission of sound waves into your tissues. A wand, called a transducer, is moved over the area being tested. This wand sends out the sound waves. A computer measures the reflecting sound waves, and changes the patterns into images which will be displayed on a flat panel screen. Blood can be depicted as either red or blue, depending on which direction it is flowing. The technician will likely squeeze your calf to make the blood flow in your veins. The Doppler may create a "swishing" sound, which is the sound of blood flowing through your arteries and veins.