Let’s Have a Heart to Heart about Varicose Veins


By Randy Brown, M.D., FACS
Mercy Hospital Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery, Cardiology


Varicose veins can be a serious cosmetic and painful concern for many individuals. Varicose veins are not life threatening, but they can be lifestyle limiting due to heaviness, pain and tenderness in the lower extremities. Over 30 million Americans are affected, but only 1.9 million seek treatment annually. Our vein center at Mercy can help you address this issue and feel more confident about your legs.


About Varicose Veins


You have many veins throughout your body that are part of your vascular system. Veins use valves to help blood back to the heart. These one-way valves can become insufficient, or faulty, which can cause pooling of blood in your legs due to gravity. Leg veins then enlarge and become emerged, leading to symptoms such as tenderness, cramping, heaviness, swelling or skin ulceration.


Risk Factors


Many factors contribute to varicose veins. These include age, family history, pregnancy, obesity, standing occupation and prior injury. Women are also more prone to varicose veins than men. Regardless of your symptoms or risk factors, varicose veins can be treated with outpatient procedures at our vein clinic.




Everyday lifestyle changes can help treat your varicose veins. Daily exercise is good for vein health and heart health in general. Leg elevation, compression stockings and maintaining a healthy weight are other suggestions. If none of these methods work, there are non-surgical treatments the Mercy Vein Center – Joplin offers.


Endovenous thermal ablation is a procedure that uses radiofrequency ablation or laser ablation to occlude and collapse a vein. Another procedure is sclerotherapy, where a solution is injected into a vein, causing it to collapse. Both prevent blood from pooling, and the associated risks are minimal.


Treated varicose veins should not reappear. There is the potential, regardless of prior treatment, that other veins in your legs may become symptomatic and new varicose veins can appear. Again, lifestyle changes play a beneficial role in preventing varicose veins. Closing or removing a vein will have no significant impact on your vascular system because your body reroutes the blood elsewhere.

Most insurance companies will cover varicose vein treatment if your condition is considered lifestyle limiting and you meet certain criteria. Check with your insurance to see if they will cover your treatment.


Improving your varicose veins can help you feel more confident and alleviate leg symptoms. If you aren’t sure how best to address your varicose or spider veins, come into the Mercy Vein Center – Joplin. Our comprehensive team is happy to help take care of you.


Randy Brown, FACS, is a surgeon with Mercy Clinic Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery in Joplin and Pittsburg. To make an appointment at Mercy’s Vein Center in Joplin, call 417.556.8600 or visit Mercy.net/JoplinVein. To make an appointment with Dr. Brown regarding other cardiac, thoracic or vascular concerns, call 417.556.8600.