What Does a Vein Specialist Do?
I am Dr. Michael Bardwil, a vein specialist in Houston, TX and the founder of Texas Vein & Cosmetic Specialists. A vein specialist is a physician who specializes in the treatment of abnormal leg veins. The veins that are treated are abnormal veins in the superficial venous system, these are veins which are anatomically located above the muscle. The deep veins are beneath the muscle. The deep veins are important for your circulation. The superficial veins are not. Most of the vein problems that people encounter involve superficial veins and since they are not important, treatment involves elimination of these abnormal superficial veins.
A vein specialist evaluates patients who present with abnormal visible leg veins and leg swelling, leg symptoms such as heaviness, aching swelling, tiredness, throbbing, and itching. There are also leg wounds near the ankle that are characteristically associated with abnormal leg veins. While a skilled vein specialist will likely be able to determine if your symptoms are related to vein disease by asking a few important questions and performing a physical exam. A venous ultrasound may also be performed to better delineate the specifics of the problem or to confirm the diagnosis.
Due to recent technological advances, vein procedures are rarely performed in the hospital. Procedures such as vein stripping, which involved “pulling out the long saphenous vein” in the operating room, have been replaced by less invasive procedures, which are performed in an office setting. The most common medically indicated procedure performed by vein specialists is called an ablation. This procedure involves closing the long or short saphenous vein with a laser, or radiofrequency catheter. It is used as an alternative to vein stripping and has a 20-year track record of safety with excellent results, in properly selected patients.
Experience and educational background vary widely among vein specialists. The more experience and qualifications your physician have, the more likely he or she will accurately diagnose and treat your problem. The most highly trained vein specialist is a vascular surgeon. Some general surgeons, heart surgeons, and plastic surgeons are capable of treating patients with venous disease. There are; however, specialists such as radiologists, cardiologists, and even pain management doctors, who after taking a weekend course, believe that they are qualified to treat patients with vein issues. There is no field in medicine with a wider range of qualifications among medical specialists, and while the best vein specialists are surgeons, not all surgeons are good vein specialists. It is important that you do your own thorough research. Look for educational background and a primary medical specialty such as vascular surgery. Ask friends that you know who underwent treatment if they saw improvement and were pleased with results.
Once you have made an appointment and have seen a vein specialist, ask yourself questions such as how comfortable you are with the physician, did you see a physician or just a physician assistant, how comfortable are you with the treatment plan. If you have any hesitations, then strongly consider a second opinion.
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