Dana*, 28

Procedure: Foam sclerotherapy for varicose veins

Performed by: Dr. Philip Kritzinger

*Patient name has been changed

Elevate: Why did you decide to have this procedure?
Dana: "I didn't have my varicose veins treated for cosmetic
reasons, but because they were starting to cause pain and
discomfort in my legs. I was in my twenties and I hadn't had kids, so my veins were really hereditary. And although I wasn't that self–conscious of them, it was nice to have them treated. I hadn't worn shorts or anything above the knee in a very long time."

Elevate: How did you choose your doctor?
Dana: "Dr. Kritzinger's office is in Newmarket, and I'm in Newmarket, and I honestly just stumbled on his name. After my first consult with him I was happy with what I was hearing and I had a certain comfort level with him."

Elevate: Why did you and your doctor decide on this particular treatment?
Dana: "There were different options available, but because the veins were causing me pain, my benefits actually covered most of the cost of the sclerotherapy. Had I chosen another option, like a laser treatment, the cost would have fallen solely on me."

Elevate: How many treatments did you have?
Dana: "I had a total of 14 treatments. Some veins ran from my groin down to my knees, and those took two or three treatments alone. After nine treatments I took a break because I got married. After the honeymoon I went back for five more treatments."

Elevate: How was your recovery period?
Dana: "The actual treatment wasn't painful, but there was some discomfort afterward, and I did take prescription–strength acetaminophen. I had to a wear a tight a compression garment, elevate my legs and take walks. Most of my treatments were done in the fall, spring or winter because wearing the compression garment isn't something you want to do in the summer."

Elevate: How did these procedures affect your quality of life?
Dana: "The veins were causing me pain, so removing them was great in that sense. Also, my legs look nicer, which was great considering I was getting married and going on my honeymoon. Definitely self–esteem–wise getting them treated was a really good thing."


Ask the Doctor

Dr. Philip Kritzinger MD, CCFP, BSc
York Vein and Laser Clinic, Newmarket, Ont.

What is foam sclerotherapy?
Dr. Kritzinger:"It's a very versatile treatment used to treat all sizes of varicose veins. In a typical service, we begin by mapping the varicose veins using an ultrasound. Then treatments are carried out systematically from large veins to small veins using a foam injection. We use an ultrasound to ensure that the source of the vein is reached. When a single needle insertion is completed, a pressure bandage is applied and the patient keeps her leg elevated for four hours at home. The entire procedure takes less than 30 minutes. A week afterward, the vein is examined with ultrasound to judge the efficacy of treatment and the next segment of vein is treated. Most people require two to four treatments."

Is there downtime?
Dr. Kritzinger: "There is no downtime except for four hours with your feet up at home immediately following the procedure. After the four hours of leg elevation, the patient can do almost anything, including returning to work. I say no vigorous exercise for 24 hours and don't get your bandage, which you wear for those 24 hours, wet."

What is the average cost?
Dr. Kritzinger: "It varies from practice to practice. Sclerotherapy for large symptomatic veins is covered by Ontario health insurance. Other provinces have different criteria for coverage. If the patient does not qualify for provincial health–plan coverage, rates range from just under $200 for spider vein sessions to about $400 for large surface vein foam sclerotherapy to $900 for deeper veins that require ultrasound to guide in the needle."