Varicose veins: Fact, fiction and a cure

Varicose veins are caused by weak or damaged valves in the veins.

They can be ugly and embarrassing, but they can also cause other problems. For Christy Arntz, they caused pain as well.

"Well, they itch,” said Arntz. “They hurt. Your feet and ankles swell."

About half of people over 50 will develop varicose veins, but how much do you know about this common problem?

True or false: only women get varicose veins. That is false. About 43 percent of men are expected to develop venous disease by the time they reach their sixties.

Here is another: you can always see varicose veins. False again.

"You can have this backward flow in the leg, creating enlarged superficial veins that stay under the skin enough so that it doesn't bulge," said interventional cardiologist Joel Erickson.

True or false: varicose veins are hereditary. That is true. In fact, family history is the biggest risk factor.

But does prolonged standing cause varicose veins? Yes it does. However, crossing your legs does not.

Can compression stockings solve the problem? No, they simply relieve symptoms. But newer procedures can bring solutions.

Using an ultrasound to guide him, Dr. Joel Erickson inserts a catheter and delivers heat to destroy Arntz’s faulty vein.

Then, he injects foam to close it and another liquid to compress it.

So does insurance cover this procedure?

Yes, Dr. Erickson says many policies, like Arntz’s, will.

"I said, 'well, let's get it done,’” Arntz said.

Now, she is looking forward to pain-free legs.

Dr. Erickson says that every insurance company has guidelines about coverage of vein disease.

Normally if a patient has bulging varicose veins, as opposed to just spider veins, along with symptoms like pain, aching or leg fatigue, there is a good chance of treatment coverage.

REPORT #2036

WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS? Varicose veins are veins that become swollen and enlarged. Any vein may become varicose, but it is most common in the legs and feet. This typically is caused from standing upright for long periods of time, or a person can develop varicose veins genetically. They can be painful to some patients and may lead to further health risks like circulatory problems. (Source:

SYMPTOMS: When varicose veins are not painful, symptoms can include:
* Veins that are dark blue or purple in color
* Veins that appear twisted and bulging; often like cords on your legs

When painful signs do occur, they may include:
* Achy or heavy feeling in your legs
* Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
* Itching around one or more of your veins
* Skin ulcers near your ankle, which could mean you have a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention (Source:

SPIDER VEINS: Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller. They are found closer to the surface of the skin and are often red or blue. They occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face. Spider veins vary in size and often look like a spider's web. (Source:

TREATMENTS: What was once thought as a cosmetic procedure is now a health related procedure. There are new treatments that can be done to get rid of venous diseases. One treatment specifically, is performed by Dr. Joel Erickson of Sonoma Vein in Santa Rosa, California. Dr. Erickson uses an ultrasound to determine the extremity of the vein then inserts a catheter to distribute heat to eradicate the damaged vein. Dr. Erickson then goes on to instill foam to close the vein and adds a liquid to constrict it. (Source:

For More Information, Contact:

Joel Erickson, MD
Interventional Cardiologist
Laser Light Treatment Center, Novato CA
(707) 953-3699

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 229584181 -
Gray Television, Inc.