Unnecessary Varicose Veins Removal Makes Unfair Profit for Physicians
Modern methods of spider veins removal and varicose veins removal use laser technology to get the job done quickly and painlessly. With laser ablation techniques, unsightly spider veins and varicose veins are removed virtually in an instant. For some people, the process is undergone mainly for cosmetic purposes and is not necessary in medical terms With this in mind, the Orlando Sentinel reported that there may be vein doctors in Florida who justify performing laser therapy for profit only, without backing up their processes with proper medical support.
Varicose veins removal using laser therapy is not particularly dangerous, but if the procedure is performed on patients with, for example, a history of heart problems, then the procedure eliminates crucial saphenous veins in the body usually needed for heart bypass surgery. In addition, some doctors told the Sentinel that laser ablation has also been known to be ineffective in totally getting rid of those ugly varicose veins that compelled patients to get treatment in the first place. According to most vein doctors, varicose veins and spider veins are chronic conditions without a known cure at the moment. The only way to effectively get rid of them is to essentially manage the symptoms so that they don’t appear as gruesomely or as frequently.
Dr. Arthur Palamara from Hollywood, FL said that the procedure makes good money for doctors and that is motivation enough for some to perform the procedure on patients who may not necessarily need laser therapy. 40 million Americans are affected by varicose vein problems, and experts say that seniors and aging baby boomers based in South Florida present a big market for such a venture. Laser ablation is also covered by most insurance companies because large bulging veins often cause pain, soreness and higher risk of poor circulation, which can lead to heart attack and stroke in some cases. Guaranteed coverage makes it convenient for patients as well as for profiteering doctors, since the patient does not have to pay for treatment directly and the doctor still gets the end pay off. In essence, the doctor doesn’t have to do much to convince the patient that laser therapy is a good idea for them.
Dr. Peter Gloviczki, a vein surgeon at a Minnesota Mayo Clinic and soon-to-be President of the National Society for Vascular Surgery, said that the endovenous ablation in particular has been much abused all over the United States, but that in Florida the procedure comes with an even higher price tag, which ups the reward for doctors who choose to take advantage of it.
Doctors who perform laser ablation must be able to afford the machine used during the procedure. If they meet these conditions, they can potentially walk out with a $2K profit every time a 30-minute laser ablation is performed. Endovenous laser ablation for large varicose veins entails making a tiny puncture in the leg in order to insert a long flexible tube into the targeted vein. Radiofrequency energy or a heated laser is delivered through the tube. As they heat up, the veins essentially collapse. This method is a less invasive alternative to vein stripping; it also comes with fewer complications.
One vein surgeon noted that abuse of the procedure in the U.S. is a sign of patient abuse in this country. Several doctors based in Miami, FL said that they thought too many patients unnecessarily closed healthy veins with laser ablation, when there are safer options. Spider veins can be treated with saline injections instead of laser ablation. In addition there are some forms of varicose veins removal that can be successful using only support or compression stockings.
Laser ablation has been used as a varicose veins removal procedure for approximately 10 years. According to the Millennium Research Group in Toronto, it is the primary method with varicose veins removal used in the U.S. There were 350K procedures done in the year 2011. This number increased by 35% since 2009. Whether the reason for such a spike in growth can be solely attributed to doctors who are resorting to laser ablation services for mere profit has not been determined at this time.
Dr. Gloviczki recommended that health insurance companies should have a more rigid standard when it comes to approving cases of laser ablation therapy for varicose veins removal. For example in Massachusetts the state healthcare system only pays for the laser therapy procedures that are performed by certified vein specialists. Dr. Almeida further added that if a doctor recommends laser ablation as a means for varicose veins removal then it’s a good idea to get a second opinion from a vascular expert before committing to the treatment. Talk to certified vein doctors listed in our medical directory for more information about the pros and cons of endovenous laser ablation.