What Patients Should Know
Welcome to the Patient Information section of IAC Vein Center online. The IAC provides the following information about vein centers as a service to the general public. This section is designed to help prospective patients stay educated and informed about venous evaluation and management and the importance of accredited facilities.
IAC Accredited Facilities
The Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) offers an online tool to assist patients in locating an IAC accredited facility. When scheduling a procedure, patients are encouraged to research the accreditation status of the facility. Find An IAC Accredited Facility»
What is superficial venous disease?
There are three types of veins in the human body: superficial, communicating and deep veins. Superficial veins lie just beneath the skin and carry 10-15% of the blood in the legs. Superficial venous disorders occur when the valves become damaged, impairing blood flow. One of the most common superficial venous disorders is varicose veins.
More than 25 million Americans suffer from varicose veins, which are swollen or stretched veins protruding from the skin that allow blood to flow backwards and pool in the leg. Varicose veins affect both men and women of all ages and can result in fatigue, swelling, aching, cramping and itching of the skin. The condition is often hereditary; however, additional factors such as age, lack of exercise, weight fluctuation and long periods of sitting or standing can also play a role. Treatment such as venous ablation can help eliminate pain and improve appearance and overall health. If left untreated, varicose veins and other venous disorders can worsen to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
CVI is a condition that occurs when the venous wall and/or valves in the leg veins are not working effectively, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart from the legs. CVI causes blood to “pool” or collect at the ankle, and this pooling is called stasis. This condition can lead to further complications such as venous ulcers, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
To be eligible to apply for IAC Vein Center accreditation, facilities must have the capability to provide at least two of the following four superficial venous procedures:
- Sclerotherapy is a treatment option for the removal of spider veins and smaller varicose veins. This treatment is typically done in a doctor’s office. The patients’ veins are injected with one of several different kinds of chemical irritant, or sclerosant, which irritates the vessel’s lining, making it become inflamed, harden, and eventually fade away completely. Blood circulation is carried out through healthy veins located deeper within the body, so the outward appearance and sometimes pain associated with the problem veins is significantly reduced. The number of treatments needed is dependent on the number, size, and type of veins being treated.1
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy is procedure to remove large superficial varicose veins at the surface of the skin through tiny incisions using local anesthesia. An alternative to typical vein stripping surgery, this minimally invasive procedure can be used to remove the dilated veins in the legs which are both unsightly and uncomfortable. Due to the reduction in anesthesia and small incision size, these procedures can be performed in the physician’s office or in an outpatient center.1
- Saphenous Vein Ablation is another minimally invasive outpatient treatment for venous insufficiency that is performed using ultrasound guidance. After applying local anesthetic to the skin over the vein, a small catheter is inserted into the damaged vein by a physician. Thermal energy or heat is then delivered inside the vein which causes the vein to collapse and seal shut. By closing the abnormal vein, the varicose veins shrink and in turn, improve blood flow. In addition, once the diseased vein is closed, the surrounding healthy veins are no longer burdened by the leaking blood flow. Other healthy veins take over to carry blood from the leg.2
- Non-operative management of chronic venous insufficiency with ulceration (i.e., compression therapy): Compression therapy is a form of treatment that requires the patient to wear socks or stockings that are specifically designed to support the veins and increase circulation in the patients’ legs. The patient will wear the socks or stockings throughout the day and the compression they provide prevents blood from pooling in the legs, thereby helping with overall circulation and diminishing any leg swelling.3
IAC Accreditation –“Seal of Approval” Patients Can Count On
The program offers a method for vein centers to voluntarily document a commitment to quality patient care related to the performance and management of venous disorders. During the accreditation process, applicant vein centers must submit documentation on every aspect of their daily operations. Applications submitted are reviewed by a panel of experts and accreditation is granted only to those facilities that are found to be providing quality patient care, in compliance with the IAC Vein Center Standards.
The program is widely respected within the medical community, as illustrated by the support of the national medical societies related to superficial venous disorders who each serve as sponsoring organizations: American Academy of Dermatology (AAD); American College of Phlebology (ACP); American College of Surgeons (ACS); American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association (ASDSA); American Venous Forum (AVF); Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery (SCVS); Society for Vascular Medicine (SVM); Society for Vascular Nursing (SVN); Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS); Society for Vascular Ultrasound (SVU); Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR).
- American College of Phlebology Patient Information (www.phlebology.org/resources/patiented.html)
- Society of Interventional Radiology - Interventional Radiology Nonsurgical Outpatient Procedure Treats Varicose Veins (www.sirweb.org/patients/varicose-veins/)
- American Venous Forum Patient Information (www.veinforum.org/patients)
- NYU Vein Center (www.nyuvein.org)