5 Practical Tips to Find the Best Vein Treatment Center in Pittsburgh

5 Practical Tips to Find the Best Vein Treatment Center in Pittsburgh

Killer Strategies on How to Get Rid of Varicose Veins in Pittsburgh

#1 Don’t Ignore the Vein Doctor’s Qualifications

If you needed heart surgery, you wouldn’t go to a foot doctor.

Sadly, most vein doctors in Pittsburgh weren’t trained to treat veins.

surprised ladySurprise.

Some vein doctors try to make up for that by calling themselves phlebologists.

Let me right of the bat tell you what a phlebologist is and what their training and qualifications are.

I’m talking about Phlebology – American Style.

Basically, phlebologists are doctors who have done little more than pass a vein test.

Passing a test is not enough.

In addition, the phlebology candidate has to pay $2,595 and an additional $175 per year and submit a case log of 200 patients.

Then voila, you’re a phlebologist.

Now those that pass the test can advertise as being diplomats of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.

However, their member doctors cannot advertise as being “board certified” in treating veins.

Survey Concept. Qualified or Unqualified Checklist with Golden Fountain Writing Pen on a white background

Hospitals credentials committees don’t accept this bogus qualification and neither should you.

This short-cut towards legitimacy is sponsored by the American College of Phlebology.

Allowing doctors who have passed their phlebology test and allowing these docs to call themselves “phlebologists” would have made Hippocrates curse.

They are self-taught.

Unless they took a residency, which involved formal training in venous disease, many just pick it up as they go.

They literally “practice” on you.

You need a reputable trained vascular doctor.

A vascular surgeon fits that need best.

Here are the kind of qualifications that you should be looking for in a vein specialist:

  • Dr. Happel received his training in vascular surgery and completed his fellowship at the Mayo Clinic and has been thoroughly vetted with the skill set that this implies.
  • Dr. Happel has over 30 years of experience specializing in veins and has the longest personal experience in treating veins in Pittsburgh.
  • He is a pioneer in the field and was the first physician to perform laser varicose vein surgery in Pittsburgh.
  • He is board certified in vascular surgery, vascular ultrasound technology, and vascular ultrasound interpretation.
  • He served as chief of surgery at UPMC South Side and as director of the vascular laboratory and was an assistant clinical professor at UPMC.
  • He is certified in both performing and interpreting venous Doppler ultrasound.

#2 Experience in Treating Veins is Priceless

Vein franchise signResearch whether or not your vein specialist is board certified in unrelated field like colorectal surgery, family practice, or emergency room medicine like many franchised vein centers in Pittsburgh.

For some reason in Pittsburgh, many people feel that a cosmetic med spa is OK to treat their vein problems.

When you dig a little deeper and see the turnover of the various physicians who practice there and their various backgrounds, you would be surprised.

Some even call their center a vein institute. Presumptuous?

#3 Bedside Manner – Trust Your Gut Feeling

Sometimes the process of choosing a vein center is not so much about finding the best vein center as it is to eliminating the bad ones.

Sometimes, they eliminate themselves by going bankrupt like the Circulatory Center did.

It was infamous for its practices like billing insurance companies for cosmetic spider veins, advertising heavily, $25 off credit cards to departments stores to come for a free consult, giveaways, inducements, and enticing people with all kinds of free stuff.

That smacked of desperation.

The Circulatory Centers went bankrupt and were found guilty of Medicare fraud. They paid 1.2 million dollars in fines to the United States Department of Justice.

U.S. Attorney Brady stated the following about the Circulatory center judgement,

“Inflating the cost of healthcare services defrauds taxpayers and depletes the limited funds available to provide medical care to deserving patients. Today’s settlement signals our commitment to aggressively pursue entities and individuals who attempt to cheat American taxpayers.”

These laser franchises, vein franchises and our cosmetic med spas in Pittsburgh are offering Groupons.

Learn why offering Groupons sucks.

These places have more angles than Euclidian geometry.

The whole shebang of “freebies” that appeals to many consumers makes reputable doctors cringe.

The Circulatory Center franchise was the proverbial canary in the coal mine because it finally went bankrupt.

Here’s our prediction about similar franchised vein centers that exist only to maximize profits.

Regarding predictions, Nobel Prize winning Physicist, Neils Bohr, warned that “predictions are very difficult, particularly about the future.”

I realize that sounds like something Yogi Berra would say like – “you can observe a lot by watching.”

Regardless, here goes our prediction.

We predict that supermarket style franchised vein centers will continue to struggle for survival.

It’s simply survival of the fittest and only the best of the best will thrive in the future.

Until that day comes, that puts all the responsibility on the patient to choose wisely.

man deciding which direction to chooseHow to choose?

Start by getting a feel for a place.

Your initial consultation will give you a feel for this important criterion.

Does the doctor quickly give you less than five minutes of face time or at some vein centers – none at all?

Patients in a medical examination room are in a fairly vulnerable position.

Trust has to be earned.

Here’s another hint on how you will be treated.

Do you get to talk to a real person on your initial phone call or is it automated with prompts?

Prompts are a good sign you’ll be treated like a number or a case instead of a person.

  • Is the vein center clean?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the recommendations for vein treatment or do they seem overly aggressive?
  • Does the doctor who is going to treat you see you on the initial consultation day?
  • Can the doctor actually perform a Doppler and diagnose your problem and do they have the credentials to prove it?

#4 Is the Vein Center Accredited and Has It Been Inspected?

This is extremely important.

This qualification distinguishes the Happel Laser and Vein Center from all the other vein treatment centers in Pittsburgh.

It is unique.

IAC Certificate from Happel Laser and Vein Center

The IAC certificate for vein center accreditation

The Intersocietal Accreditation Commission or IAC set up national standards in 2014 for vein center quality control and continuous practice improvement. There are peer-review evaluations by board-certified physicians and experts in the field of venous disease.

There are only five IAC Accredited Vein Centers in Pennsylvania and only one in Pittsburgh.

They have done your homework for you.

The IAC rigorously evaluates vein practices and performs on-site inspections just like the inspections that are done for hospitals.

This recognition guarantees that a vein center has met benchmarks for quality, training and outcomes.

A vein center which voluntarily undergoes this inspection process demonstrates the vein center’s commitment to quality patient care.

This rigorous inspection process is your assurance that responsible, safe, and exceptional vein care will be provided.

Don’t confuse the difference between IAC accredited vein center vs an IAC accredited vascular testing center.

Remember, vein center accreditation is only available at one center in Pittsburgh.


It’s difficult to achieve and pass such rigorous standards.

Since vein center accreditation is voluntary, most vein centers don’t want to bother to do the extra work.

When a vein center is accredited, like a magic 8 ball, all the signs point to YES!

American Vascular Surgery board logo#5 Board Certification and Training

Just being “board certified” isn’t enough to ensure quality vein care.

You must go one step further and ask board certified in what?

You should make sure your chosen vein doctor is certified to treat varicose veins and venous disease.

A vascular surgeon’s procedural skill set has been evaluated and vetted by their vascular surgical professors before they are allowed to sit for their qualifying board examination.

This is not true of a phlebologist.

7 Reasons Why Vascular Surgeons Make the Best Vein Specialists

Eliminate board certified specialists in unrelated fields of medicine from your list.

The Bottom Line – A Place for Every Vein and Every Vein in Its Place

Many vein treatment center’s web sites and their doctor’s qualifications in Pittsburgh are deliberately misrepresented.

Choose the only vein center in Pittsburgh that has been inspected and is accredited.

By choosing an accredited and inspected vein center like the Happel Laser & Vein Center, you’ll have less insurance coverage worries.

For the most qualified vein doctor in Pittsburgh with the longest experience specializing in veins, call us at 724-969-0600.

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.