Varicose Veins & Spider Veins

What is varicose veins?

Varicose veins are worm-like curvy veins in the leg that are typically visible and palpable under the skin. It is a benign condition that affects 30% of the population. Some patients with varicose veins have no symptoms, but many patients will experience symptoms that include heavy tired legs, leg ache, leg swelling, itchiness, rash or eczema, and leg cramps. In the worst scenario, bleeding and ulceration of the skin can occur.

What treatments options are available for varicose veins?

There are different types of treatments available for varicose vein patients depending on their anatomy and severity of the varicose veins and the patients’ treatments goals. The best way to determine the type of treatment you need is to have your vein examined using ultrasound by an experienced vascular specialist. 

Simple “do it yourself” treatments 

Exercise, weight loss and frequent leg elevations for >20 minutes (with ankles propped up on cushions higher than the heart) can help to improve symptoms of varicose veins. One can also buy compression stockings (20-30mmHg) and wear them during the day to squeeze the veins and support them. 

Sclerotherapy 

This treatment involves injection of a medication that causes the veins to collapse and dry up. The vein shrivels and over time completely disappears. Sclerotherapy works in about 70-80% of the time and sometimes require repeat treatments.

Vein surgery

Open surgery with complete removal (stripping) of veins under general anesthesia is sometime the best treatment for complex varicose veins. Simple veins that are localized can be managed with minor surgery under local anesthetic with great results.

Radio frequency Ablation (RFA)

This is a minimal invasive method of treating varicose veins that stem from large veins called the saphenous venous system. The RFA is very effective substitute for vein stripping surgery that shortens the recovery time and minimize scarring compare with surgery.

Venaseal Ablation

This is another minimal invasive ablation technique for treating abnormal saphenous vein system that works very similar to RFA with equal efficacy. Venaseal used medical grade superglue to close the veins. This method has the advantage of been least painful and have a fast return to work rate. 

Are treatments for varicose veins covered by BC Medical Service Plan (MSP)?

MSP covers treatment of severe varicose veins that cause pain enough to hindering walking Venous complications such as bleeding, blood clots or skin eczema and ulceration. Vein treatment for cosmetic concern are not covered by the MSP. RFA and Venaseal procedures are not covered by the MSP. 

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are tiny clusters of pink, blue or purple veins that appears just under the skin. These veins can cause mild symptoms but are mostly treated for their cosmetic appearance. Sometimes oral medication such as MPFF (Veinexxa) can help to reduce symptoms. Injection sclerotherapy using dilute sclerosants are the best way to get rid of spider veins.

Current therapy for primary varicose veins