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Are varicose veins serious?
In the majority of cases, varicose veins are of a cosmetic nuisance. Varicose veins generally tend to get worse without any treatment. Those who do not get them treated are more likely to develop:
- Constant itching
- Pigmentation around the ankles
- Ulcers at the ankles or open sores
- Heaviness or Tiredness
What can happen if varicose veins are left untreated?
Most people with varicose veins do not develop complications. It is impossible to predict who will develop complications. The size of the varicose vein is not related to complications, but the duration of the varicose vein is. Complications may include:
- Superficial thrombophlebitis - in this condition, the varicose vein is inflamed and tender. A clot is usually present in the vein.
- Bleeding - even with minor trauma, the varicose vein may be associated with bleeding. Because the vein is under high pressure, the bleeding can be quite profuse.
- Venous eczema - the skin round the vein may become dry and very itchy.
- Venous pigmentation - this is brown staining of the skin around the ankle. It is due to the leakage of small amount of blood from the veins into the skin.
- Venous ulceration - ulcers at the ankle or open sores
- Mild swelling of the feet
- Occasional blood clots in the veins
- Infection of the vein
How can varicose veins be treated?
Your vascular physician can help you determine the best method of treatment, varying from conservative treatments such as elevation of the affected leg or the use of compression stockings to a minimally invasive procedure, radiofrequency ablation. Radiofrequency ablation requires a catheter be inserted into a vein and temperature-controlled RF (radiofrequency) energy to heat the walls of the vein. Heating the vein causes the vein walls to collapse. After the vein has been closed, blood is then naturally rerouted to healthy veins. This procedure is relatively painless and very effective.
Will my insurance cover the treatment?
Many insurances do not cover the cost of compression stockings.
Most medical insurances, including Medicare, will cover the cost of radiofrequency ablation. Criteria may include previous use of conservative treatments and will depend on symptoms such as leg swelling, pain, ulcers or clots. Pre-authorizations will be obtained by the office; preauthorization does not guarantee payments. Payment is determined at the time the claim is submitted for medical necessity by your medical insurance.
Please be sure to check if this is a covered benefit under your policy. If the surgery is done purely for cosmetic purposes, then the cost of the procedure is usually not covered by insurances. Please call 310-825-4357 for more information regarding the cost of the procedure.
Can I eat before my radiofrequency ablation procedure?
Yes. In fact, we recommend that you have a small breakfast or light lunch before your procedure. Some patients may choose to take Valium, an oral sedative to reduce tension and anxiety (will be given at the time of the procedure), and having breakfast or lunch can help settle the stomach.
Will I be asleep for my radiofrequency procedure?
No. This minimally invasive procedure can be done with a local or regional anesthesia. Patients may be given Valium, an oral sedative, to reduce tension and anxiety.
How long does the procedure take? How long will I be there?
Patients need to check in 1 hour before their scheduled procedure time. The procedure itself takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour, and recovery can take up to 1 hour. Patients should expect to be at the clinic for a total of about 3 hours.
Does the procedure hurt?
Patients report little, if any, pain during the procedure. Your physician may prescribe oral Valium to help reduce tension and anxiety. Lidocaine, a local anesthesia, will be used to numb the area. Patients do report feeling some pressure.
Please let our office know if you are allergic to Valium or Lidocaine.
Can I drive after the procedure?
It is required for patients to have a driver with them to escort them home. Please arrange for transportation prior to the procedure as patients will not be discharged until their transportation has arrived.
Will I be sent home with bandages?
Patients are discharged with a leg wrapping. This leg wrapping will remain on for at least 2 days. During this time, a sponge bath is recommended; please do not remove the wrapping as it will be removed at the time of your follow-up ultrasound and nurse visit.
What happens if my leg starts to bleed or if my leg(s) start/continue hurting?
Some discharge at the site of incision can be normal. If the incision site begins to bleed, apply pressure and elevate the leg above the level of your heart. If the bleeding does not stop, call 310-825-4357 Monday-Friday between 8 am and 5 pm or 310-825-6301 nights after 5 pm and during weekends and ask for the vascular surgeon on-call to be paged.
If you are experiencing pain, you may take over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Please remember to keep your leg(s) elevated above the level of your heart as much as possible. Should you experience extreme discomfort, call 310-825-4357 Monday-Friday between 8 am and 5 pm or 310-825-6301 nights after 5 pm and during weekends and ask for the vascular surgeon on-call to be paged.
What are my limitations?
Patients are discharged with a leg wrapping. Sponge bathing is recommended until your follow-up visit. You may shower once the dressing has been removed. Patients must refrain from using the hot-tub or sauna for at least two weeks after the procedure.
Patients must avoid strenuous exercises such as lifting weights, running and aerobics for at least two weeks after the procedure.
Who do I contact if I have questions or problems?
Monday-Friday 8 am - 5 pm:
- 310-825-4357 Clinical questions/concerns
- 310-206-6294 Scheduling postoperative ultrasounds/follow-up office visits
- 310-825-4357 UCLA Gonda (Goldschmied) Venous Center and Ambulatory Procedure Unit
Nights (after 5 pm) and Weekends:
- 310-825-6301 Clinical questions/concerns. Please ask for the vascular surgeon on-call to be paged.