What is a vein specialist? From primary care doctors to vascular surgeons, medical professionals from many backgrounds now promote the treatment of varicose veins. If you have varicose or spider veins they represent a chronic medical condition that progresses if left untreated and can lead to complications such as blood clots, skin changes, leg swelling, venous ulcers and bleeding. Once you decide to see a doctor, how can you know if your vein specialist is an expert in the treatment of venous disease? This valuable information will help you identify the vein specialists best qualified to evaluate and treat your vein disease.
What is a Vein Specialist?
A vein specialist or phlebologist is a doctor who has added credentials in the evaluation and treatment of varicose veins, spider veins and leg swelling or lymphedema. Traditionally the treatment of vein disease like vein stripping was performed by general surgeons. Over the past 50 years, dermatologists, vascular surgeons and specialists from other disciplines have entered the field.
There are no ‘phlebology residencies’ in the US, and only a limited number of post graduate fellowships are offered now. Most phlebologists enter the field through being board certified in the speciality in which they trained and then through added credentials, post graduate continuing medical education and specialty training in phlebology. Upon demonstration of continuing education and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of vein and lymphatic disease, physicians can sit for a rigorous examination that, upon completion, designates them as Diplomates of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine. Although having the diplomate status does not guarantee quality vein care, it does exhibit that physician’s commitment to pursuing excellence in the field.
The Benefits of Seeing a Vein Specialist
Medical professionals who dedicate themselves to phlebology are trained to spot underlying vein disease and varicose vein complications right away. With early diagnosis, preventive measures may be offered by your phlebologist to slow disease progression and alleviate symptoms. They will also recommend interventions to help your legs look and feel better while reducing the risks of complications and improving your quality of life.
In some cases, the deep veins in your legs can “clot.” Although 50% of patients with a blood clot are asymptomatic, the most common symptoms are leg swelling and pain.
The most serious acute risk of a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) occurs if blood clot in the deep vein dislodges and travel to the lungs, causing a PE (Pulmonary Embolism). Common symptoms of a DVT include chest pain, cough and shortness of breath. Some patients with a PE describe having a sense of doom. This life threatening condition that requires immediate, emergency medical attention leads to a death every 5 minutes in the US.
Chronic complications of a DVT include leg pain, swelling and skin changes that can lead to skin ulceration. A provider who specializes in the treatment of venous diseases as their primary focus is more likely to notice and treat the early signs of venous disease before skin changes occur that signal the development of an ulcer.
Visible varicose and spider veins with symptoms of heaviness, aching, swelling, burning, stinging, itching along with cramps in the legs at night and restless leg often lead to seeing a phlebologist. Simple in office evaluations and office based procedures are offered to correct the underlying cause of the vein problem and the visible surface changes.
When you see a phlebologist your legs can look and feel better while decreasing the risks of other complications of varicose veins like bleeding. This situation is usually minor any bleeding requires the attention of a medical specialist right away and can be prevented by seeing a vein specialist before the condition becomes severe.
How Do I Know If My Doctor Is a Vein Specialist?
When it comes to your vein care, it’s important to do your research to make sure that your provider is a vein specialist or phlebologist. Check out their patient testimonial ratings and before and after picture gallery to see examples of their results. Although results may vary, this is a great place to start.
Like any medical specialists, when choosing your vein specialist it is important to do your research and ask questions. What is their training and background? In what field is their primary training and board certification? What is their experience in vein care? Are they diplomats of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine?
Speciality organizations are a primary means of postgraduate education in venous and lymphatic medicine. Ask what professional organizations your doctor is a member of.
The American College of Phlebology, or ACP, or the American Venous Forum organizations are two of the leading phlebology group in the US. These group of vein experts offer cutting edge continuing education in the field that use scientific knowledge and professional experience to diagnose and treat vein disease.
Other important aspects of quality vein care are diagnostic testing necessary for accurate evaluation, treatment planning and follow up care. The primary tool used is venous duplex ultrasound testing. Ask if your doctors vascular lab and ultrasonographers are certified and credentialed in their field. Also, ask if your doctor or the physician who interprets the studies has added credentials in the interpretation of ultrasound studies.
Why Choose Vein Specialists of the South
As one of the first to embrace phlebology as a specialty in the United States, Dr. Kenneth Harper and his team of vein specialists have the experience to diagnose your vein problems precisely while advising you of your best treatment options.
Dr. Harper has over 20 years of experience as a phlebologist, has received board certification from the American Board of Surgery, and is a diplomat of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.
The vascular lab at VSS is accredited by the IAC for Venous Testing; Dr. Harper and our technologists hold vascular ultrasound credentials of RVT or RPhS. Dr. Harper is also RPVI credentialed to interpret your studies. Contact the Vein Specialists of the South in Downtown Macon or Warner Robins, GA, to schedule an appointment with one of our vein experts today.