Kam Carman sits with Allure Medical’s founder, Dr. Charles Mok, to discuss how vein disease forms, its many symptoms, and how it can be cured.
Find out if you have the signs of vein disease in this quick quiz.
Kam Carman: As experts, Allure Medical's goal is to make sense of crucial and sometimes confusing medical information and explain how it relates to you. Allure is here to be the community's rock when it comes to their wellbeing. I'm here with Allure's founder, Dr. Charles Mok.
What does it mean to actually have vein disease?
Dr Charles Mok: So chronic vein disease and venous insufficiency, we might think of those in the same way. Our veins have a series of one-way valves to get the blood back up from our legs back up to our heart. These little one-way valves open up to let blood pass through and they're supposed to snap shut to prevent the blood from backflowing. And because of different conditions, might be genetic or environmental or inflammation, these valves start failing. When they fail, instead of going up to let the blood through and snapping shut, they actually reflux and the blood goes the wrong direction. When this happens, your body starts responding by trying to make more capacity. So, it might grow varicose veins, which would be big, ropey veins. It might cause swelling. It might even cause some extra veins to grow entirely. And this is what we call chronic insufficiency, or chronic venous insufficiency.
Kam Carman: When you see the bulging veins and you know that there's an issue, what are some of the other symptoms though that might be indicative of vein disease?
Dr Charles Mok: So, bulging veins are the obvious one, but here's a massive group of symptoms outside of that. It’s leg swelling, heaviness, restless legs, fatigue, your legs might be discolored, they might be red. There's rashes that occur as a result of it. Brown spots and even sores and ulcers could occur on the legs.
Kam Carman: So this is really just more than a cosmetic problem.
Dr Charles Mok: It's way more than a cosmetic problem. The cosmetic problem definitely occurs, and we see people with that, but it's really not a big part of our business. But some people get spider veins, which might just be unsightly. Patients may even have varicose veins that are unsightly, and they want to get rid of those too. But we also see people who have varicose veins associated with heaviness, discomfort, swelling, aching, throbbing of the legs. Or sometimes they might not even have the visible varicose veins, but they have those other symptoms that are still related to the veins.
Kam Carman: What's the first step, would you say, in healing those symptoms?
Dr Charles Mok: After a physical exam, if we determine venous insufficiency might be the cause, we use a diagnostic test called an ultrasound. This lets us look right through the skin and look at the dynamics of the blood flow, see which way the blood is moving, check the valves, and it gives us a diagnosis of the disease.
Kam Carman: Is the treatment difficult or painful at all?
Dr Charles Mok: The first step, the ultrasound, is totally painless. Once we find the cause we map out a roadmap of how to fix it. There's some procedures called laser or radio frequency. They're not quite painless, but they're pretty close to it. You don't need to be knocked out or take pain pills. It's an in-office procedure. You go home the same day. You might wear some stockings or something, but there's no real care aftercare; very little to it. After you diagnose and treat the disease, you're back to your normal self.
Kam Carman: Now how about insurance? A lot of people wonder about that and does their insurance cover it?
Dr Charles Mok: Yes. Most insurance companies cover symptomatic vein disease. It's probable that all of them do.