In this three-part series, we will explore the treatment of varicose veins, including what a vein doctor is, and type of experience, education and training a patient should look for when choosing a vein specialist. During this part, we will focus on credentials, qualifications, and the definition of phlebology.
Our guest expert is Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) physician Reepa Shah, MD. Dr. Shah is the lead physician at a Center for Vein location in Fair Oaks, VA.
What questions should a patient ask their vein doctor?
Dr. Shah feels that proficiency in vein treatment procedures is the number #1 most important quality found in a vein specialist. At CVR, physicians publish industry studies and meticulously track data— including complication rates and patient outcomes—so that our doctors can confidently advise their patients that CVR outcomes are “excellent.”
CVR patients can be assured that their doctor has mastered the skills necessary to treat symptoms of venous insufficiency, with the essential data to support the claim.
Vein doctors who care
Next, Dr. Shah believes that a patient must know that their vein doctor cares about them and that the doctor is invested in the results the patient receives from treatment. Having a doctor who takes the time to walk them through the details of the recommended procedures, and the expected recovery period and outcomes, is a characteristic of a good vein doctor and quality medical practice.
Because vein disease is chronic, progressive, and can reoccur, a patient may require treatment years after the initial therapy. Dr. Shah emphasizes that a caring and engaged doctor “is there and ready to be with their patients,” no matter the time that passes between visits. She characterizes the relationship between CVR doctors and patients as “being on a long journey… together.”
Compassionate attention to older patients
After more than a decade in a different field of clinical medicine, Dr. Shah was drawn into venous and lymphatic medicine because she felt compassion for and wanted to help the many older patients who suffer from conditions related to vein diseases. These conditions may include cellulitis, leg ulcers, infection, varicose veins, venous edema, and other vein disorders that negatively affect the quality of life for these patients.
Patients tell Dr. Shah that they have stopped being mobile because of the condition of their legs, are walking less, and must stop working involuntarily because of the leg pain, swelling, heaviness, and other serious venous-related
The goal for these patients at CVR is “to live longer with good health, to continue to be able to contribute to their families, to their careers, and to do whatever is going to bring them happiness during these years,” says Dr. Shah. Having good leg health can help older adults achieve these goals. Conversely, poor leg health can lead to negative consequences such as lack of exercise, weight gain, heart disease, and the worsening of diabetes with all its repercussions.
What accreditations should a patient look for in a vein doctor?
When seeking a doctor to treat leg vein disorders, a patient should check to be sure that the doctor is a registered expert in ultrasound
technology, such a phlebology and venous ultrasound, and is certified in venous and lymphatic medicine.
Most CVR doctors began their medical careers in other specialties such as general surgery, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, etc. They later decided to take this experience and knowledge and apply it to diagnosing and treating acute and chronic venous and lymphatic disorders with additional training, fellowships, and certifications.
What is a phlebologist?
Dr. Shah explains that “phlebologist is the name given to vein specialists as the fields were first emerging.” The American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM) and the American Vein & Lymphatic Society (AVLS), formerly the American College of Phlebology, are the associations that set the high standards and lead the way for healthcare professionals specializing venous and lymphatic disease.
Patients may hear vein doctors refer to themselves as “phlebologist,” “vein specialist,” or “venous and lymphatic specialists.” These are interchangeable names, says Dr. Shah, saying that we are “all of these things.”
Show to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shah
Reepa Shah, MD, is a board-certified OB-GYN with additional specialized venous and lymphatic medicine training. She earned her medical degree and completed a residency at George Washington School of Medicine, Washington, DC. She was named “Top Doc” by Northern Virginia Magazine and Doctor Most Recommended by their Peers, by Washingtonian Magazine.
Call 1-800-FIX-LEGS or visit the website at centerforvein.com for more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shah or at one of CVR’s 100+ locations nationwide. Most treatments are covered by major insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid.