Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Varicose Vein Treatments
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office

Every year thousands of women and men consider getting treatment for varicose veins and spider veins. Advertisements for treating venous disease often acclaim "unique," "permanent," "painless," or "absolutely safe" treatments - making it extremely difficult to decide on the best treatment. Below is some information that may help. But remember, there is no substitute for consulting with a properly-trained physician.

What are Varicose Veins
Veins become enlarged with pools of blood when they fail to circulate blood properly. These visible bulging veins - varicose veins - are most common in the legs and thighs and in severe cases may rupture or form open "ulcers" on the skin.

What are Spider Veins
Small spider veins can appear on the skin's surface and may look like a "starburst" or web-like formation. They are most common in the thighs, ankles, feet and face.

Is Treatment Always Necessary?
No. Varicose and spider veins may be a cosmetic problem. However, in severe cases treatment would probably be recommended by your doctor.

Be Wary of Unsubstantiated Claims
Claims extolling "major breakthroughs," "permanent results," "unique treatments," "brand-new," "painless," or "absolutely safe" treatments should have documentation which supports them. Ask for the specific documentation.

Available Procedures
Surgery and Sclerotherapy are most commonly used to eliminate problem varicose veins. Spider veins can also be treated with sclerotherapy. Your doctor should recommend a particular treatment based upon the diagnosis made and your personal history.

What Types of Doctors Treat Varicose and Spider Veins
Surgery is generally performed by general and vascular surgeons. Sclerotherapy is often performed by dermatologists, as well as, some general, vascular and plastic surgeons.

Question Your Doctor
Carefully question your doctor about the various procedures available to you, safety and side effects for each type of treatment, and the amount of pain and scarring you might experience. Scrutinize any "informed consent" form given to you by your doctor and ask questions about its content. Make sure you understand exactly how much the procedure you choose will cost you. Check to see if the procedure is covered under your medical insurance. Remember to ask your doctor how long the results will last. Will the veins come back? What are the recurrence rates for the procedure you choose?

Obtain a Second Opinion
You may want to consult more than one doctor before deciding on a method of treatment. Be sure to ask doctors about their level of experience regarding the particular procedures you are considering. Check with your local hospital to see if they have a physician referral service, which will give you detailed information about doctors.

Additional Information
If you need to resolve a problem with a doctor or surgeon, you may want to contact your local/county medical society or the State Board of Medical Examiners at (850) 488-0595. To check the doctor or surgeon's licensing status phone the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration at 1-888-419-3456 or the State Board of Medical Examiners at (850) 488-0595. If you desire to file a complaint, you may contact the Agency for Health Care Administration at (850) 414-7209 or 1-888-419-3456. For a free brochure on Cosmetic Surgery, write to Public Reference, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580; (202) 326-2222.