Choosing a partner for your health care is an important decision. As medical specialization increases, more often than not you have a team of doctors as part of your health and wellness. If you have a good relationship with your general practitioner—and you can get a prompt appointment to be seen—you can ask them for recommendations for other physicians and healthcare providers – such as vein doctors. But even then, it helps to have a general understanding of the types of doctors and what they do.
If you have unsightly or painful varicose veins or suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, you may be searching for a doctor who can help relieve your symptoms. Did you know there are several types of doctors and healthcare providers who specialize in vein care? Here at Afzal Clinics, we want you to be informed about the health professionals who will take care of you. Let’s take a look at several vein doctors who may make good partners in your care.
Types of Vein Doctors
A phlebologist is a doctor who takes care of veins. They are board-certified general practitioners who have also received training in vascular issues and minimally invasive vein treatment. The American Board of Phlebology was established in 2007 and helps oversee these vein doctors and their practices. Don’t be confused between a phlebologist, or a vein doctor, and a phlebotomist, which is someone who is certified to draw blood. They share the same root, phleb, which means vein.
Relatively new to the medical field, an interventional radiologist specializes in minimally-invasive procedures to diagnose and help treat diseases throughout the body, including veins. IRs use images created from x-rays or other radiation to see inside the body and guide procedures without making large incisions. These procedures have less pain, less overall risk, and slower recovery times compared to open surgeries. These vein doctors often use endovenous laser ablation treatment (EVLT) to treat vein issues, a technique that is guided by x-ray imagery.
A “vein specialist” is an umbrella term for a group of doctors, usually, cardiologists, dermatologists, and interventional radiologists, who are board-certified in their respective specialties, but then take additional coursework and training in varicose vein treatment techniques and other cosmetic venous procedures.
A vascular surgeon is a vein doctor who has been extensively trained to diagnose and treat all types of arterial and venous disorders and diseases. These doctors do not frequently treat more cosmetic vein issues such as varicose and spider veins. Instead, they mainly focus on placing catheters and stents in arteries and veins, such as for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or aneurysms. Vascular surgeons can consult with the other types of vein doctors to provide additional advice or be available should more invasive surgery be required.
Registered Vascular Technologist or Vascular Sonographer
A vascular sonographer is a technical term for an ultrasound technician who specializes in veins. You’ve probably heard of an ultrasound if you’ve ever had a child or known someone who was pregnant. An ultrasound is commonly used to “see” inside the uterus and get pictures of your developing baby. Ultrasounds are also used to examine other parts of the body, such as organs and blood vessels.
A vascular sonographer uses ultrasound to view and analyze your veins and to generate images of blood vessels for diagnosis and treatment. Registered Vascular Technologists (RVT) have proven their knowledge by successfully passing a two-part professional certification exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
How to Choose the Right Doctor for Your Veins
Now that you know about the types of doctors and what they do, it’s up to you to choose the best vein doctor for your needs. Let’s go over some important considerations when choosing a health professional for your vein issues.
Is the Health Professional Well-Trained and Experienced?
All doctors go through years of schooling as well as on-the-job training as residents and fellows. Every vein doctor listed above has been through a rigorous program and passed specific examinations to become certified by a medical board.
You’ll need to determine which type of specialty and experience is most relevant for your needs.
You wouldn’t go to a dermatologist for trouble with your kidneys; you’d go to a nephrologist for that. In the same way, you don’t need to go to a vascular surgeon who specializes in stenting arteries for open-heart surgery to help with reducing the spider veins in your legs. While a vascular surgeon may be able to help with your spider or varicose veins, that is not something they regularly do.
A vein specialist or phlebologist may not have training or experience in arterial stenting or open surgery, but they have performed hundreds or thousands of sclerotherapeutic injections, endovenous laser treatments, and radiofrequency ablations to help patients with cosmetic vein issues.
Is the Health Professional Board-Certified?
Again, all vein doctors are board-certified by one or more medical boards. While the American Board of Phlebology does not administer an examination in one of the 24 currently recognized medical specialties, a phlebologist is board-certified as a medical practitioner. Likewise, a cardiologist is board-certified in diagnosing and treating heart ailments, and a dermatologist in conditions and treatment of the skin.
There is no board certification specifically for vein issues. Any doctor working with them has their board certification in something else and has then completed additional coursework and training to become registered as a vein specialist.
Does Your Health Plan Provide Coverage for This Service?
Treatment for varicose veins is often deemed medically necessary, which means it meets the criteria for coverage by insurance. To do so, a doctor must conduct an ultrasound of the veins to determine if you have venous insufficiency. This is the medical term for veins that have “gone bad” because their valves now permit a backward flow of blood, which creates painful and unsightly bulges. Before they will approve the treatment of varicose veins, all insurance plans require a venous ultrasound.
Most vein doctors participate in several insurance plans for your area, but you’ll want to determine if they accept yours. Other treatments for vein issues are considered cosmetic, so they’ll expect you to pay out-of-pocket. Your vein doctor can help you determine the costs and payment plans for these services.
Metro Vein Clinic Specializes in Vein Issues
The healthcare professionals at Afzal Clinics have been helping patients with their vein issues for many years. The team has performed hundreds of procedures to provide relief from varicose veins and Restless Leg Syndrome. Contact us to set up an initial consultation by calling 612-789-8346. You may also speak directly with one of our doctors at this number.