Some Varicose Vein Centers May Have Ethical Issues

Some Varicose Vein Centers May Have Ethical Issues

Varicose Vein Treatment and Ethics

Authorities in varicose vein treatments are worried.

The ethics of many varicose vein centers in this country are in question.

In medical school, all medical students learn about ethics in treating patients. I had the good fortune to observe a higher moral code in action.

I joined my father, an honest and respected general surgeon in practice in 1986. He practiced responsible medical ethics during his long career. His reputation reflected it.

I believe that honor and medical ethics are closely intertwined.

They are innate and instinctive.

Honor, Varicose Vein Treatment and Medical Ethics

Honor is the presence of God in man.

Many people believe that we are born untainted.

As our lives unfold, we make some bad decisions bringing suffering on ourselves.

I believe that we choose which path we ultimately will follow.

Compromises are often made in an imperfect world. Not admitting this would be sanctimonious.

Totally unnecessary venous Doppler testing is routinely done on women who present only with spider veins.

It is wrong.

This is rampant throughout many vein centers in this country and throughout Pittsburgh.

Unnecessary laser procedures on normal saphenous veins are performed every day.

This is another immoral practice.

The public must be aware that unscrupulous vein centers are prospering.

In these places, financial concerns override doing what is right for the patient.

These franchised varicose vein centers are spreading like hamburger joints. There seems to be a vein center on every corner. The credentials of many of their doctors are questionable.

Self proclaimed vein doctors often receive their vein training at a three-day conference.

They have no official training in venous disease. Some of these doctors are trained in emergency medicine, some come from cardiology, some come from dermatology and others received their medical training in radiology or even family medicine.

It is very, very common.

As I see varicose vein treatment evolve and as this field grows exponentially, medical ethics as it pertains to this field must be examined. This ethical dilemma in vein centers needs to be debated and be brought into the light of day.

Every week people who have initially gone elsewhere often come to see me for a second opinion.

They don’t feel right about the other vein center and feel that something is wrong.

They are uncomfortable.

Something is fishy. People sense this.

After doing research, they want advice that they can trust.

They want a vein specialist who has trained in venous disease. A board certified vascular surgeon has formal training in all aspects of venous disease.

That makes vascular surgery training unique. Nurses and professionals who work in the medical field know this.

I have personally seen unnecessary procedures recommended by these profit centers on a regular basis.

It is immoral.

Medical ethical principles are violated.

The AMA has established a code defining the essentials of honorable conduct. The AMA has officially denounced these practices.

Please read the following:

What About the Hippocratic Oath?

Doctors all recite the Hippocratic Oath when they graduate from medical school. What happened?

Is there hope that varicose vein doctors will always do the “right thing” in our imperfect world?

In a video on , Russell Samson MD, a board certified vascular surgeon and clinical professor of vascular surgery at Florida State University stated,

“What I’m seeing across the country is a tremendous abuse of the procedures that are being done.

Laser ablation of the saphenous vein is being abused and many patients are being treated unnecessarily”.

There is no oversight.

In the future, electronic medical records, venous registries, and the accreditation of vein centers will help keep us all on the right track and force doctors to be accountable for our decisions and actions.

Ethics and the necessity of all procedures are rigorously reviewed with the IAC accreditation process.

To our detriment, the current trend is that the government and health insurance companies are already making many of our health decisions for us.


You must be aware that unscrupulous varicose vein franchises exist.

They are in business for one reason.

Their primary objective and mission is to be financially profitable.

Before your varicose vein treatments begin, carefully research the vein center where you choose to be treated. Ask the doctor the right questions.

Be cautious. Be skeptical. Beware.

If you aren’t even given the opportunity to see a physician on your initial visit, you may be in the wrong place.

About The Author

Dr. John Happel

Dr. John Happel has been in practice as a surgeon since 1986 in the Pittsburgh region. He specializes in vascular surgery and has subspecialized in the treatment of varicose and spider veins since 1999. Dr. Happel is board certified in vascular surgery and recertified in vascular surgery in 2012. He was chosen in 1985 to fulfill the position for the vascular surgical fellowship at the world renowned Mayo Clinic.