How NOT to Choose a Pittsburgh Varicose Vein Specialist

How NOT to Choose a Pittsburgh Varicose Vein Specialist

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Made Choosing a Vein Specialist in Pittsburgh 

Essential Criteria Ignored When Choosing a Vein Doctor

  1. Many people don’t understand that all vein specialists cannot deliver the same results – (getting rid of their abnormal veins with an acceptable cosmetic result).
  2. Most people don’t consider that complications can occur.
  3. Most people don’t think about choosing a vascular surgeon.
  4. Choosing an inspected vein center doesn’t cross anyone’s mind ahead of time.
  5. They don’t understand what their share of the final cost will be – even when insurance “covers it”. I’m talking about expensive facility fees that could double the cost of your vein treatments.

Failure is an Option: When Choosing the Closest Vein Center

Should the location of a varicose vein doctor be your most important selection criterion?

The answer is no.

Why are vein franchises popping up with satellites in virtually every community?

I recently asked a bank manager why all the little banks with the drive-ins are sprouting up everywhere.

His answer – to get more people’s deposits. It’s as simple as that. People don’t like to drive very far.

  • We want close.
  • We want fast.
  • We want efficient.

What about experience and qualifications?

Meh, not so much.

The sad truth is that any doctor can legally treat veins. Even the ones that never trained in venous disease and never treated anyone’s veins before you walked in their office.

What Do Most People Want Who Have Varicose Veins?

Convenience is the key word for most people.

Accessibility is important.

Friendly, communication skills and the ability to listen are high on the list after accessibility.

In the U.S., people prefer higher value and lower prices at the fastest transactional cost.

Reputation is another criterion.

It’s often judged through word-of-mouth.

Through recommendations of friends and relatives.

Getting an appointment quickly is also important.

Bedside manner – patients like doctors who listen to them and talk to them.

When examining the relationship between patients and doctors, most patients value “approachability” and “willingness to discuss health issues and advice with patients” as being important factors.

Not so much when looking for a vein doctor for many people.

Unfortunately, convenience often trumps any attempts of researching a vein center.

Lack of Due Diligence in Selecting a Vein Specialist

  • Why do people research second opinions after complications for varicose vein doctors?
  • Why don’t they go back to the doctor who caused the complications?
  • Why don’t they do their due diligence the first time around?

Here are the usual factors people consider when choosing a vein doctor:

  • Proximity to my home
  • Advertising
  • Experience
  • Educational background
  • Insurance accepted
  • Referral from a doctor
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Website reviews
  • Empathy

How Important Is Location of a Vein Office?

According to Healthgrades, 6 out of 10 choose a doctor because of location.

Three recent surveys all agree; “location” is a significant consideration when choosing a vein specialist.

The following is a sad truth especially when people come to me for a follow up visit to fix a problem caused by a less qualified and experienced doctor.

According to Healthgrades data, “convenient location” is more than twice as important to consumers selecting a physician or a hospital than success rates or outcome data.

At the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit, hospital marketers and CEOs were shocked to learn that people choose hospitals based upon location and friendly staff vs. quality.

Their data showed that consumers who have selected a physician in the past three years are more concerned about convenient location (62%); friendly office staff (56%); than success rates (22%).

So, more people care about location than success rates!

Here are the results of another survey by the American Osteopathic Association. They also revealed “location” as one the five most important factors adults consider when choosing a physician for themselves or a loved one:

  • Acceptance of insurance plan (83.3%)
  • Bedside manner/empathy (60.5%)
  • Proximity of office to home, work or school (57.4%)
  • Convenient office hours (42.9%)
  • Medical specialty (37.5%)

There’s even an auto fill on Google searches that automatically finishes searching the most commonly performed past searches.

Start typing in a search for vein doctors and it will spit out –  vein doctors near me.

That’s. What. People. Want.

My Vein Patient’s Reasons for Choosing Their Vein Specialist

When people come to see me, at their initial visit, I ask them to fill out a form.

Many people say they chose my vein center because of the location.


That means they picked the vein office that was the closest to their house. Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.

It’s puzzling to me that they don’t care if the vein doctor is qualified, experienced, or trained in vein procedures. They assume that all vein specialists are all of the above.

That’s frustrating especially when so many people come to me every week with problems and complications from other vein centers.

They assumed that researching their vein doctor and center was unnecessary. Many only start the research after they have had a complication or are unhappy with their results.

Safety, proper sterilization and equipment, emergency contingency plans, success rates, and training are all assumed to be in order.

Is There an App for Choosing the Best Varicose Vein Doctor?

We have an app or a website for everything these days.


We have phones that will give you turn by turn directions to 13,000 different Starbucks. When you get to Starbucks, you can take a selfie or look up the nearest vein center.

But are there apps for being a responsible patient and discerning consumer? That technology is a work in progress.

Try to find a vein center using an app. It doesn’t exist. Yet.

We are left trying to find the best vein doctor in Pittsburgh by using a Google or Bing search.

I’ve been searching for non-partisan tools that help patients find the best medical care available.

However, there is a huge disconnect between finding the very best, qualified vascular specialist in the city of Pittsburgh and trying to differentiate that from the marketing and advertising that is driving the search for the best vein doctor in Pittsburgh.

Nevertheless, Google your vein specialist. All doctors have a digital footprint that you can discover. Examine their LinkedIn qualifications. You’ll find that all vein doctors are not the same.

What is presently online is a fraction of everything that is possible. Entrepreneurial vein centers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote their websites.

The best place to start is a Google search for the best vein specialist in Pittsburgh.

You can find board-certified vascular surgeons vein specialists who have trained their entire life to ensure that your results will be the best possible.


Is convenience of location or a doctor’s qualifications and experience more important to you?

Do you even care about qualifications? Never assume anything.

If you choose a vein center from advertising, you really don’t even care which doctor treats you.

If you are reading this, you do care. You deserve the best vein care available.

You need to have the peace of mind knowing that a board certified vascular surgeon is treating your veins.

In a trained vascular surgeon’s hand, who specializes in varicose veins exclusively, there are no limitations. That means all available technologies are at their disposal.

Be on a quack watch when looking for credentials of a varicose vein doctor.

Dr. Ron Bush, the director of and a vascular surgeon with over thirty years specializing in veins, recently called phlebology (the field of treating veins) a quack magnet.

Unsuspecting patients must be educated of the truth in our capitalistic society. It is my duty as physician.

Use common sense when looking for a vein specialist. Choose your vein doctor at least as carefully as you would a TV, a car, or even a new restaurant.

Choose a vein center that has been inspected and accredited to get the best results possible.

Accreditation of the vein center gives you the confidence that they are receiving care in a center that has been reviewed and recognized by a national panel of experts who have confirmed that quality patient care is being provided.

So why accept anything less than Happel Laser & Vein Centre?

Call us today at 724-969-0600 if your priority is a board-certified Mayo Clinic trained vascular surgeon with over thirty-two years of experience who specializes in veins.

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.