When dealing with vein disease, knowing what doctor you should be seeing will significantly improve the success of your vein treatment. Not all doctors are the same many have not completed the same level of certifying examination. Most vein doctors fall into 1 of 3 subgroups that each have varying qualifications: Board Certified Vascular Surgeon, Phlebologist, or Vein Specialist. Advocate for yourself and get educated on the correct doctor to diagnose and treat your venous disease.

Let’s explore each group of vein doctor and what their training means for your vein disease treatment and successful completion. 


What is a Board Certified Vascular Surgeon?

These types of surgeons have expert training dealing with vascular disease to open blood vessels and allow blood to flow correctly through the body. According to the American Board of Surgery, a board-certified vascular surgeon will have completed the Vascular Surgery Qualifying and Certifying Exams. The qualifying exam is a 6-hour multiple-choice exam, and the certifying exam is a 3.5-hour long oral session. Before certification, 5 to 7 years of specialty training must be completed. Because of their extensive training, these doctors are the only ones that manage patient’s operative care. They also hold hospital admittance privileges and can provide complete postoperative care to patients. A board-certified vascular surgeon must repass examinations every 10 years.


What is a Phlebologist?

A phlebologist is a medically trained doctor with expertise in various venous diseases like varicose veins, blood clot disorders, spider veins, and other minor vascular conditions. The qualification standards are less stringent. Any physician who has performed a residency in a recognized American Board of Phlebology specialty and passes a written qualifying exam can claim board certification. This title is not representative of competence and training in surgical vascular fields. These doctors are limited to the treatment of cosmetic vein issues and diseases. A phlebologist does not hold hospital privileges and is not prepared to manage and treat postoperative issues that may arise. This means, in the event of a problem, the patient would be sent to a hospital emergency room where a board-certified vascular surgeon would treat the patient. These physicians mustn’t use this alternative board-certification to allude that they possess a higher level of training in the field.


What does a Vein Specialist do?

The title vein specialist can be utilized by medical doctors who may be board-certified in their respective fields, such as dermatology or cardiology, but will perform minor cosmetic vein procedures. Specialists are not specifically trained to diagnose and treat vascular disease as a vascular surgeon’s credentials allow. These doctors may have a board-certified qualification, but these titles are representative of their skill specific to their primary fields of training and not disease of blood vessels. Adding cosmetic vein treatments into their field of practice is a way to supplement their business. 


Which vein diseases should be treated by a vascular surgeon?

In most cases, you should have any serious vein ailments looked at by a board-certified vascular surgeon. These doctors are highly trained in the vascular field. You want a doctor with experience beyond treatments for varicose veins. Many vein diseases are easy to treat but can become life-threatening if left undiagnosed. Patients who never get testing or choose unqualified doctors run the risk of disability and complications that could result in death.


They can diagnose and treat diseases like:

  • Varicose Veins 
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
  • Venous Ulcers
  • Buerger’s Disease
  • Blood Clots
  • Lymphedema
  • Vascular Pain
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Renal Disease
  • And many other concerns with the way your veins are carrying blood. 

If you smoke cigarettes, have diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, or have a history of vascular disease, you are considered high risk. High-risk patients should get screenings and actively work with a board certified vascular surgeon to ensure proper health is maintained.


What types of treatments are available to board certified vascular surgeons?

A board certified vascular surgeon has training and access to treat all types of vein disease. They range from a simple treatment for varicose vein using compression stockings to more invasive treatments like vein filters and stenting. Vascular surgeons have hospital admittance and can care for patients from diagnosis through postoperative care. 


Treatments a vascular surgeon can provide:

  • Prescription compression stockings: To improve circulation
  • Medicines for blood flow, ulcers, and kidneys: Improves circulation and can aid from the inside
  • Laser or radiofrequency ablation (RFA): A way to close off veins or remove them
  • Sclerotherapy: Used to eliminate varicose and spider veins
  • Ligation Surgery: Surgical tying of veins
  • Vein Stripping: Surgical removal of veins
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy: Surgical procedure to remove superficial veins


By choosing a doctor with full qualifications to recognize a vein disease and appropriately administer care, you can mitigate many risks and future vein health issues. Inadequate vein care can result in hospital stays, loss of limbs, and loss of life. Beyond surgery, a qualified vein surgeon assists in a health plan that involves dietary changes, an exercise regimen, and the correct medications. Using advanced technology and high levels of training and practice, vascular surgeons can provide patients with options to improve their quality of life or act urgently to save it. 


Dr. Bonau, Dr. Keyser, Dr. Kim, and Dr. Lee are board certified vascular surgeons at the Franklin Vein Centre. These surgeons specialize in vascular surgical procedures and practice minimally invasive methods whenever possible. Their dedication to their practice means each patient’s diagnosis and treatment is adapted to their needs and choice of procedure. If you are experiencing leg discomfort, varicose veins, or need to schedule a screening, please call us and schedule an appointment at (615) 503-9895.