Varicose veins, which are also commonly referred to as spider veins, occur when the veins right under the skin become very visible and swollen. This condition most often occurs in the legs, but it can also be seen in other areas of the body. These veins can be unsightly, and many people wish to have them fixed surgically for cosmetic reasons. However, varicose veins can also have other health implications as they can result in severe bleeding, blood flow complications, and more. If varicose veins are causing health complications for you, your Medicare benefits should provide coverage for your treatment.
Why Do Varicose Veins Occur?
Your veins are responsible for bringing blood back to the heart from all over the body. These blood vessels are designed to allow blood to travel only in one direction, which helps to maintain proper blood flow throughout the body. This one-directional flow is maintained through the use of valves, which are spaced out through every vein.
Sometimes, the valves in these veins can begin to lose their functionality, especially with age. If this occurs, blood may be allowed to flow backwards in some areas, causing increased blood pressure, swelling in the surrounding area, vein discoloration, itching, and more. The added blood volume in a certain vein can lead to it bulging.
Varicose veins can become increasingly common given a few different factors. One of these factors is age. As the body gets older, it begins to break down, including the blood vessels. If the blood vessels get weaker, the probability of getting varicose veins increases.
You are also more likely to have this condition if you have a family history of it, are a female, overweight, or do not exercise regularly. All of these factors can contribute to restricted blood flow and the deterioration of the strength and resiliency of blood vessels.
Do Varicose Veins Need to be Treated?
Varicose veins are very common among older adults, and in many cases, they are solely a cosmetic issue. While these veins may look less than ideal, there is generally nothing causing serious health issues.
However, in some cases, these veins may lead to health complications that need to be addressed to prevent their worsening. For example, varicose veins may lead to significant and severe bleeding. If these veins bleed regularly or if they develop sores on the skin due to the bleeding that will not heal, medical procedures are necessary to address these problems.
Varicose veins can also cause pain in the surrounding area, which can be due to tenderness from the swelling. They can also cause general fatigue, restlessness, tingling, throbbing, or heaviness, especially after prolonged periods of being up on your feet if the varicose veins are in the legs.
Medicare Coverage for Varicose Veins
If you are not experiencing any severe side effects from varicose veins, such as bleeding, visible sores, or pain, Medicare benefits will generally not cover treatment for their cosmetic repair. In order for Medicare to cover treatment, they must be medically necessary.
While surgery is one of the most common procedures for repairing varicose veins, Medicare may require you to pursue more conservative treatment options first. These treatments may include wearing compression socks or sleeves, participating in a diet and exercise plan to aid weight loss, or elevating the affected area each day to reduce swelling.
If none of these treatment options are successful for several months, Medicare may provide coverage for other procedures. Some other treatment options can include surgically removing the veins, stripping the entire affected vein out of the body, closing the veins with chemicals, and laser therapy.
If your Medicare coverage does allow for varicose vein treatment, your specific costs can vary based on the specific procedure and its recovery process. In general, Medicare will cover 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount as long as your physician accepts assignment. Your out-of-pocket costs may include coinsurance or a copayment, and your deductible will apply.