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Varicose Vein Removal – Happel Laser & Vein Center

Varicose Vein Removal in Pittsburgh

What is a Varicose Vein?

Varicose veins are abnormal bulging and ropey blood vessels that appear on the surface of the skin. They are enlarged and tortuous. These veins usually occur in the legs. Varicose veins dilate when you stand or sit for long periods of time.

When the valves inside the veins do not close normally, the blood reverses direction. Gravity pulls the blood in these veins toward the foot. That is called venous reflux or venous insufficiency.

The pressure builds up in these abnormal veins. The pressure causes the pain, ache and heaviness to become worse later in the day. Swelling of the leg can occur as fluid leaks out of these vessels into the surrounding subcutaneous tissues.

The Cause of Varicose Veins

The cause of varicose veins is genetic.

It is an inherited disorder in most cases. 

It is reported that up to a 25% of women and up to 20% of men will develop varicose veins during their lifetime. If both of your parents had varicose veins, then your chances are up to 90% that you will eventually get varicose veins.

Therefore genetics and heredity are believed to be the strongest reasons that people develop varicose veins. Other risk factors include age, pregnancy, gender, obesity and occupations where standing is commonplace. These factors increase your odds of having or developing this common disorder if you already have the genetic predisposition.

 Varicose Veins Treatment

At the Happel Laser and Vein Center in Pittsburgh, the preferred methods of treating large, bulging varicose veins are laser ablation, radiofrequency closure, phlebectomy and sclerotherapy. When laser is used, the laser fiber is inserted inside the vein to seal the targeted vein with heat.

Phlebectomy (also called ambulatory phlebectomy) is the removal of bulging veins through tiny punctures made by a needle. This is done after the veins have been numbed with a local anesthetic.

Sclerotherapy is the injection of a special FDA approved medication inside of the varicose veins. Eventually, the treated veins are absorbed by your body and disappear.

The currently FDA approved medications are Asclera (polidocanol) and Sotradecol (sodium tetradecyl sulfate). Many people are aware that hypertonic saline was used in the past. Because of the side effects and complications after using saline, it is rarely used anymore in this country.

New developments in the field of large varicose vein treatment include the use of foam. When ordinary sclerosing solutions are agitated, it becomes thick like shaving cream.

When foam solutions are injected into large varicose veins, it becomes more effective and potent. The treatment of smaller veins and spider veins with foam is limited because of an increased incidence of complications.

Most physicians who can perform ambulatory phlebectomy prefer it to sclerotherapy for most large varicose veins because of the lack of hyperpigmentation (brown discoloration), overall better cosmetic results and lower chance of recurrence.

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large vein 01 large vein 02 large vein 03 large veins 4 large veins 5
large veins 6 large varicose veins 7 varicose veins 8 varicose veins 10

While it is true that for many women, the appearance of varicose veins is often the reason for seeking treatment, patients often acknowledge symptoms such as aching, heaviness and fatigue. They mistakenly attribute their symptoms to prolonged standing instead of the varicose veins.

People often believe that these symptoms are just a normal part of aging and are shocked at how good their legs feel after the abnormal veins are fixed.

The clinical results are excellent and in many ways superior to the traditional surgical approach.

With modern minimally invasive techniques, there is an almost immediate reduction of symptoms and improvement in appearance.

Results with the laser and radiofrequency techniques to eradicate varicose veins are extremely favorable.

The laser and radiofrequency treatment of varicose veins provide an extremely safe and effective alternative to those patients wishing to avoid surgical stripping for the treatment of their varicose veins.

Common Varicose Veins Symptoms

Varicose veins can cause:

  1. Ache
  2. Pain
  3. Tiredness
  4. Heaviness
  5. Swelling of the leg
  6. Itching
  7. Cramping
  8. “Charley-horses”
  9. Restless legs

Insurance Companies Coverage of the Treatment of Varicose Veins

Most health insurance plans will cover these procedures after they have been determined to be medically necessary. You can return to work the next day and immediately resume normal activities.

Insurance companies require that your varicose veins interfere with your activities of daily living. Even if they are large and bulging, if there are no symptoms, they will not be covered.

Minimally invasive techniques are used to treat varicose veins in a doctor’s office.

Hospitalization and general anesthesia are no longer required for vein surgery treatments.

These newer techniques are less painful, safer and more effective than the old stripping operation. Stripping is rarely ever performed anymore in modern vein practices in this country.

Varicose Veins Treatment at Our Accredited Vein Center

To ensure safety, the doctor’s office where varicose veins are treated must be inspected. Hospitals are inspected to confirm that medical care complies with national standards.

The Happel Laser & Vein Center is the only Pittsburgh varicose vein treatment center that has been inspected and accredited.

Accreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission is a seal of approval that patients can depend on for safety and quality.

The IAC grants accreditation to elite vein facilities that are found to excel. To obtain accreditation and pass inspection, a vein center must be in full compliance with strict national guidelines. The comprehensive application process includes a rigorous review of the entire office staff as well as the facility. 

Vein center accreditation should be an important factor in choosing a center for your varicose vein surgery and treatment.

Our Approach to Your Varicose Vein Removal

Dr. Happel will perform the initial consultation, design your treatment plan and perform all of your vein treatments himself.

He is a board certified, fellowship trained vascular surgeon.

He trained at the Mayo Clinic in vascular surgery. He is the only vein doctor in our city with over thirty years of experience specializing in venous disease and varicose veins.

We are not a varicose vein franchise.

We do not allow nurses to perform your consultation on your initial visit or plan your treatments.

Unlike many other vein treatment centers in the city of Pittsburgh, Dr. Happel will personally discuss all of your options. Only he will perform all of the subsequent treatments that you will need for the removal of your varicose veins.

Your varicose vein treatments will not be delegated to others.

Your care will not be passed on from one provider to another.

Dr. Happel will follow you through the entire process from the beginning to the end.

We pride ourselves on this traditional one-on-one approach. This individualized method of medical care is not the common method of practice of most of the other vein centers in the city of Pittsburgh today.

We accept and participate in the following health insurance plans.

  • Aetna
  • Anthem/BCBS
  • Cigna
  • Coventry
  • Devon
  • 4Most
  • Health America
  • Health Assurance
  • Health Plan of Upper Ohio Valley
  • Humana
  • Highmark/BCBS
  • Medical Mutual
  • Mon-Valley Health Plan
  • Multi-Plan
  • Tricare
  • United Health Care
  • Western Pennsylvania Electric (WPEE)
  • UPMC
  • All BC/BS plans