Varicose Veins: Fact or Fiction

October 19, 2013

They are big, bulging, and unsightly. For Christy Arntz, varicose veins were also painful.

"Well, they itch. They hurt. Your feet and ankles swell," said Arntz.

About half of people over 50 will develop varicose veins, but how much do you know about this common problem? True or false: only women get varicose veins?

False, about 43 percent of men are expected to develop venous disease by the time they reach their sixties. Here's another: you can always see varicose veins.

"You can have this backward flow in the leg, creating enlarged superficial veins that stay under the skin enough so that it doesn't bulge," said Joel Erickson, MD Interventional Cardiologist, Laser Light Treatment Center.

True or false: varicose veins are hereditary?

That's true. In fact, family history is the biggest risk factor. But does prolonged standing cause varicose veins?

That's also true! However, crossing your legs does not. What about compression stockings? Can they solve the problem?

No, the stockings just relieve symptoms. But newer procedures, like this one, can.

Using an ultrasound to guide him, Dr. Erickson inserts a catheter and delivers heat to destroy Christy's faulty vein. Then, he injects a foam to close it and another liquid to help compress it. So, what do you think, does insurance cover this procedure?

Dr. Erickson says many policies will. Christy's did.

"I said, 'Well, let's get it done,'" said Christy.

Now, she's looking forward to pain free legs.

Dr. Erickson says that every insurance company has guidelines about coverage of vein disease, but normally, if a patient has bulging varicose veins --as opposed to just spider veins --along with symptoms such as pain, aching, or leg fatigue, then there is a good chance of treatment coverage.

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