Cost of Varicose Vein Treatment

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The cost of treating varicose leg veins in Adelaide and Australia in 2019

There have been recent alterations to the Medicare Benefits Schedule ( MBS ) that are likely to result in changes to the way varicose leg veins are treated and, also, the cost of that treatment. These changes mean that funding for surgery has been dramatically reduced and a move to non-surgical techniques is a likely consequence.

Public hospital waiting lists

Because of decreased funding to treat varicose veins, the major public hospitals in Adelaide and throughout Australia are only accepting patients for treatmentif there are significant medical complications from their veins (such as varicose ulcers). At the present time, cosmetic treatment for varicose veins is not considered a reason to go on a public hospital waiting list in Adelaide.

This move is likely to affect the availability and cost of having leg veins treated.

Private treatment

Treatment for varicose veins in the private sector is also moving away from traditional surgery. Non- surgical techniques have a number of advantages including less complications, no down time or time off work. The downside of this, however, is that patients are likely to have to pay some out of pocket costs. Medicare funding for non-surgical methods of treating veins is minimal and does not cover the realistic costs of treatment. There is also an argument that the majority (not all) have treatment for cosmetic reasons and, as with most cosmetic procedures, this should not be covered by Medicare.

Treatment Options for leg veins

Spider vein treatment

Spider veins are fine red thread or larger blue veins that can be treated if cosmetically unacceptable.

The only consistently effective method for treating spider veins is a technique called micro sclerotherapy. This involves small injections into the veins that causes them to gradually fade and disappear.

This is a safe and effective way to manage spider veins and involves little discomfort and no down time.

Varicose Vein Treatment

Prior to about 2000 surgical treatment was the only proven method to treat varicose leg veins. This technique usually involves making several cuts in the legs and pulling the veins out. The procedure usually involves a general anaesthetic and some time off work and away from usual activities such as driving.

Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy has been in use for about 20 years in Australia and 18 years in Adelaide. This technique involves scanning the legs with ultrasound to map the whole venous system and then injecting the faulty veins with a solution called a sclerosant. The sclerosant destroys the lining wall of the vein and the body gradually converts the veins to scar tissue causing them to shrink and disappear. Some advantages of this technique are its safety, low rate of complications and the fact that there is no down time or time off work.

Endovenous therapy RFA and EVLT are techniques that have been available for approximately 15 years in Australia. Both these techniques involve heating a straight portion of the faulty vein which causes the formation of scar tissue and closes the vein. Tortuous veins are then treated with sclerotherapy as with ultrasound guided sclerotherapy. This technique also has a low complication rate and involves no down time.

Treatment costs

A CHOICE magazine article from 2014 listed approximate costs for the various procedures to treat leg veins.

Micro sclerotherapy (treatment to blue and spider veins of the legs) approx. $400 – $500 per treatment

Surgery – approx. $2000 plus hospital and anaesthetic costs. Rebates can vary depending on private health cover

Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy – $800 – $1000 per treatment. Rebate $95 – $200 depending on the Medicare safety net.

EVLT and RFA (endovenous laser treatment and radiofrequency ablation) $2500 – $4000 per treatment. Medicare rebate is $460 per treatment.

When assessing the total cost of treatment, it is important to enquire about add on costs such as additional consultation fees, costs of obtaining ultrasound scans and number of treatments required to treat your veins.

Treatment costs at Odyssey Vein Clinic (Adelaide)

The cost of micro sclerotherapy is $450 with a possible rebate of $95 on some legs.

The cost of ultrasound guided sclerotherapy is $950. The Medicare rebate is $95 – $200 dependent on the safety net.

The cost of UGS is an all-inclusive cost and covers all consultation fees, scanning and follow up.

One treatment of UGS is required to treat the varicose veins on one leg.

No GP referral is required for any of our treatments.