Patients are confronted with various options about where they can obtain treatment for their vein disease. Lately, there are a lot of physicians offering vein care as a supplement to their overall practice, as well as a multitude of “laser clinics” cropping up offering basic treatments. So how do you know you are getting the best advice and the most up-to-date treatments available?
Is the vein clinic focused exclusively on vein treatment? In many practices, diverse mixes of patients are frequently lumped together in the same office. Even a vascular surgeon may see a variety of patients, and it’s inevitable that the more serious, arterial-related patients will take precedence over those seeking treatment for varicose veins. This is why choosing a vein-dedicated practice is important. Vein patients generally present with more isolated problems. This allows these vein practices to run more efficiently with improved patient flow, less wait times, and superior patient satisfaction.
Are there RVT ultrasound technicians on-site? RVT technicians are the most credentialed to perform ultrasound-guided diagnostics as part of the evaluation process. Frequent questions you will want to ask include: “How are my vein problems diagnosed?” and “Are you proceeding with treatment without a thorough ultrasound?” Ultrasound evaluation of vein anatomy and physiology is mandatory, and any clinic that does not offer it is not providing a thorough evaluation.
Is the facility a fully certified ambulatory surgical center by the AAAASF and the AAAHC? These organizations provide accreditation to out-patient surgical facilities with the goal of improving patient safety and quality of care.
Does the facility have the current IAC Vein Center certification? North Shore Vein Center in New Hyde Park, NY, has been awarded the distinction of accreditation in Superficial Venous Treatment and Management by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC). This prestigious honor is highly respected in the medical community and is granted only after a strict, peer review process analyzing all daily operations of the medical practice, including personnel, quality of care, safety, equipment, and patient outcomes. All accredited facilities must demonstrate the highest level of patient care.
The accreditation symbolizes that North Shore Vein Center has voluntarily undergone a thorough review of its operational and technical components by a panel of experts, and that our procedures have been carefully evaluated by medical experts in the field of treatment and management of superficial venous disorders.
Are you satisfied with the vein doctor’s credentials? Vein specialists are board certified in general surgery, but also more specifically in vascular surgery and phlebology (specialty in venous diseases). Recently, many internists, family doctors, cardiologists and even radiologists are treating vein disease. Unfortunately, they lack the background that only a Vascular surgery residency can provide in training a physician about vascular and vein disease.
Does your doctor hold either an RPVI or RVT designation? This designation shows that they are qualified to interpret ultrasound exams, which represent the single most important tool in diagnosing your vein problems. While many doctors may claim to be experts, only a qualified vein specialist has the deep and broad knowledge of your venous system that will yield the most accurate diagnosis and underlying causes of your varicose veins.
Is the doctor performing all of your treatments? Some doctors delegate various treatments, including sclerotherapy, to ancillary personnel. Whether or not they are qualified, they may not be aware of your entire case and what exactly has been done up to that point. This can lead to poor follow-up and disjointed care.
Does the clinic offer state-of-the-art procedures? A qualified vein specialist has all the necessary equipment to treat your veins with exactly the right procedures tailored to your specific problem. Many part-time phlebologists offer only one or two modalities of therapy centered on sclerotherapy. You’ll want to be sure that any vein specialist you see offers all the latest and most up-to-date treatments available for vein conditions, and that he or she has successfully treated many patients before you.
What procedures should a comprehensive vein clinic offer? Varicose veins: Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) and Radiofrequency ablation (VNUS Closure). Spider veins: Vein Gogh (as seen on The Doctors TV Show) and/or Veinwave technology coupled with a combination of ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy and VeinLite sclerotherapy containing FDA approved medications including both AscleraTM and SotradecolTM. Saline injections are relatively dated, not currently approved by the FDA for sclerotherapy, can be painful, and may lead to increased complications.
What affiliations should my doctor have? All vein specialists should be affiliated with The American College of Phlebology, The American Venous Forum and be a Fellow of The American College of Surgeons. These memberships show a dedication to the field of Surgery and Phlebology that all patients should expect of their provider.
Dr. Mark Schwartz is a triple board certified vascular surgeon with 20 years’ experience in the field of Vascular Surgery. He is RPVI certified and an active member in the American Venous Forum, The American College of Phlebology and serves as a faculty member of Vein Experts, the leading educational resource center for vein surgeons across the country.