Vein Disease & Vein Treatments — Misunderstood Still.

It truly is amazing how far vein treatments have come in the last decade. The minimally invasive technologies developed in the interventional radiology field over 20 years ago keep evolving and advancing the ways veins are treated — and the body in general.

Today, minimally invasive technologies for the treatment of vein disease are the gold standard. Vein stripping and painful, invasive surgery are things of the past. So how come so many people with tired, aching, painful legs aren’t flocking to their nearest vein specialist?

Misconceptions. 

Vein disease is still commonly underdiagnosed or missed altogether.

Just like heart disease or a painful back, vein disease cannot be diagnosed by the naked eye alone. And, unlike the obvious signs – bulging veins or spider veins — many of the symptoms of vein disease fly under the radar of doctors because these signs are often not attributed to vein disease or doctors aren’t fully aware of what vein disease is.

Restless legs are often tied to a neurological situation. Tired legs are often seen as a muscle problem. Rashes, itchy skin, ulcers and eczema are considered dermatological problems. If you are experiencing any of these vein disease signs or have had problems with your legs for a number of years, ask to have an ultrasound of your legs or schedule an appointment to see a vein specialist.

When a doctor isn’t a vein specialist, treatment decisions don’t often include a minimally invasive vein treatment for three main reasons: (1) vein disease is not diagnosed (2) because vein disease is not diagnosed, treatment is misguided and deals temporarily with the problem (ex. skin creams and wraps for the dermatological conditions and heating pads and a trip to a neurologist for the restless legs) (3) the doctor is not a vein specialist and bases his or her treatment decision on his or her related medical field treatment protocols.

Case in point:

One of our patients brought her mother in for a vein consultation and screening because her mom has been dealing with restless, aching legs with occasional bouts of more concentrated, intense pain for years. Her mom didn’t have any obvious bulging veins, but she did have quite a concentration of spider veins on both legs. Dr. Hamilton performed a diagnostic ultrasound – and sure enough, she was diagnosed with vein disease. The thorough medical evaluation performed during the consultation revealed that this woman had heart and blood pressure issues and takes Coumadin. When Dr. Hamilton prescribed a VNUS Closure and some sclerotherapy in both legs, he assured her he performs vein treatments on people with health issues all the time.

However, her cardiologist, did not like the idea. He warned her not to go through with the procedure, citing that he might need the greater saphenous vein (the vein that is heated and closed during a Closure procedure) in the future should she ever need to have a stent put in place and that because she is on Coumadin – it would be “risky” to have such a procedure done.

The disconnect with this story is that once a vein has become enlarged and stretched because of vein disease, it is not a viable option for a stent. Other options are available. This doctor also revealed a lack of understanding about vein treatments because people on Coumadin can have vein treatments.

Stripping the misconceptions about who can treat your vein problem.

Dr. Hamilton has people come to him all the time with botched vein stripping or invasive vein surgery complications. He also sees plenty of folks who have suffered with debilitating conditions for years and years – decades even — because their vein disease went undiagnosed for so long.

Their situations are painful reminders that while there are plenty of medical professionals with periphery knowledge of veins, however, if they are not vein specialists and do not concentrate solely on the diagnosis and treatment of vein disease, you may not be getting a fully educated diagnosis and proper treatment.

Today’s vein specialists are vascular and interventional radiologists skilled in ultrasound and image-guided vein treatments. For it is only through ultrasound that vein disease can be accurately diagnosed and the source of the problem pinpointed.

A real push to bust these vein myths.

The only way to truly change perceptions is a determined push by vein specialists and the vascular and interventional radiology medical community to educate through awareness campaigns and media exposure. Patients play an integral part too – through word of mouth.

The Rethink Varicose Veins educational awareness campaign launched last year, with former Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders as its spokesperson. And Hamilton Vein Center is actively involved in getting the word out and educating our patients and the public about vein disease, its ramifications and the vein treatments that can change your life. Dr. Hamilton is often seen on Great Day Houston, alongside one of his patients, discussing vein issues with Deborah Duncan. We’ve also put together a booklet titled “Myth vs. Reality” – a quick reference guide to the most common misconceptions.

While it’s great to be receiving some press on TV and in publications such as Redbook (May 2012 issue: “Get Sexier Legs by Summer”) and out on the web, the “facts” can fluctuate widely as to the types of vein treatments available, cost, coverage by insurance or Medicare, and who you should see for treatment.

Vein treatment technologies have advanced. Now we just need to advance people’s perception of vein disease and vein treatments. So as you become more aware, stay aware of the facts. Your best bet for the best vein treatment is with a vein specialist. And there’s no myth in that perception.

Call 281-565-0033 to schedule your vein consultation today!