What Does the Ideal Vein Clinic in Pittsburgh Look Like?

What Does the Ideal Vein Clinic in Pittsburgh Look Like?

Varicose Veins Clinic Questions You Need to Ask

Are You Finally Ready to Deal with Your Ugly Varicose Veins?

If you are, then the next question is where to go.

Imagine the answer – It’s Easy If You Try.

So, let’s imagine.

Business woman with arrows and questions sign above headAs a thought experiment, I’m asking you this question: what qualities should the ideal vein center possess?

Don’t be tricked into what seems intuitive.

For instance, if a bat and a ball cost $1.10 and the bat is $1.00 more than the ball, how much is the ball?

Ten cents? Wrong.

If the ball was ten cents and the bat was $1.00 more, the bat would be $1.10 and the total would be $1.20.

If you can be tricked by this simple example, you can also be tricked by expensive vein clinic web sites in Pittsburgh that hire expensive SEO experts (search engine optimization).

Don’t assume that your outcome and experience will be the same at any vein clinic.

So why not just choose the closest?

Here’s why.

Follow me closely so you don’t get fooled again.

The Knowing is Half the Battle Fallacy

Many people assume that all vein clinics and all vein doctors are the same. That’s not true.

It turns out, knowing that is not half the battle.

It’s not even close.

The cost of vein care is equally important for most people.

For instance, you know that 1.99 is pretty much the same as $2.00, but the first still feels like a lower price. Ask Apple. That’s how they price iTunes or some Cloud space.

But knowing is only tiny fraction of the battle for most real-world decisions like choosing the best vein care that is available near you.

I challenge you to make a mental list to include criteria you think would be important when considering where to go to get rid of your varicose veins.

Doctor practitioner filling out formAlright, have you finished your list?

Let’s take a look. I have my red pen ready.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And Wrong.

Nearly everything you think that would make an ideal vein clinic won’t.

It won’t, because nearly everything you’re likely to list — assuming you are like most of the patients who come to see me for a consultation, is not correct.

Here are three factors that are really important that you didn’t even consider.

#1 Inspection of the Vein Clinic

Hospitals, restaurants, planes, roller coasters and even nail salons require inspections.

Why should vein clinics – where all of your vein treatments are performed – be excluded.

It shouldn’t!

Cerificate of vein clinic accreditationHere’s what vein clinic accreditation is all about.

The inspection.

To obtain accreditation, the vein clinic must go through rigorous inspections which include on-site inspections just like in hospitals.

You need to be assured the right answer to all of these six questions.

  1. Is sterility enforced?
  2. Are the autoclaves working properly?
  3. Are the medical records in order with a quality assurance program in force?
  4. Are the medications injected into your veins FDA approved?
  5. Are the lasers and ultrasound equipment FDA approved and regularly inspected?
  6. Are the doctors and the staff trained and have continuing medical education credits?

These and over a hundred other factors must be in place to qualify for accreditation. The only agency that accredits vein clinics is the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission or IAC.

Read more about vein clinic accreditation here.

 #2 Which Board Certification Does the Vein Doctor Actually Have?

Although any doctor can legally perform vein procedures, do you really want just any old doctor?

Would a chiropractor, a podiatrist or a psychiatrist be OK with you?

Of course not.

woman holds white paper with word unqualified in office(Although there is a podiatrist in Boca Raton Florida doing major varicose vein procedures.) Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Vein doctors in Pittsburgh are not all trained in vascular disease.

In fact, most of them are not.

So be careful and don’t assume anything.

All vein clinics will say their doctors are board certified. Board certified in what is what you need to ask.

#3 Internet Reviews Can Help Guide You

In Pittsburgh, there is an insurance and control of healthcare war going on between UPMC and Highmark.

Most primary care doctors in the city have sold their practice to one or the other. Your referral by your primary care doctor will often be guided to which entity has bought their practice.

They can’t refer to the best if the best is not in their network.

Be aware that primary care referrals to specialists may be tainted and may exclude a better vein doctor near you.

So, what’s the alternative?

Talk to friends or family who have had vein treatments.

Smartphone or mobile phone with text rate Read reviews on the internet.

Healthgrades, Vitals, WebMD, YELP, Google reviews.

Then ask yourself.

Are they believable? Do they sound fake?

It turns out that people have studied and researched this and the answer is – you can’t tell.

So how to decide?

Place a cold call to the office. Do you get a machine?

You can tell a lot by the etiquette of the office staff on the phone.

Will they try to find a time that is convenient for you?

Ask why the doctor specialized in veins.


Ask the doctor during your consultation. If you don’t see a doctor during your initial consultation, that’s a really bad sign.

It’s a major complaint when people come to me for a second opinion.

complaints written on a screenIs this vein center just a franchise where money is the bottom line?

With reviews, look for a common thread.

Are the negative reviews consistent?

Dig deeper and cross reference the qualifications of the doctor and staff.

This is an information gathering process but well worth it.

You literally have skin in the game.

Research carefully and thoroughly and then trust your gut.

Now for Your List on How to Choose a Vein Clinic

Remember when I said your mental list of how to choose a vein clinic would be wrong?

That’s because what you’re likely to do – is wrong.


  • Choosing the closest vein clinic (6 out of 10 people)
  • Choosing a familiar name of a national vein franchise
  • Responding to advertising on TV, magazine, or newspaper – Sigh.
  • Reacting to before and after pictures on a vein center web site
  • Making a decision on what the doctor looks like
  • Being sidetracked by being embarrassed about the appearance of your legs or not being able to wear shorts or a swimming suit

Your mind tells you that if you just got those things, you’d be happy.

So, nearly everything most people think will make your legs look and feel better won’t.

Prior to the vein clinic boom of the 2000s and ending with the infamous Circulatory Center going bankrupt, the Happel Laser & Vein Center was a very different type of vein practice.

No advertising.

Here’s my problem with today’s vein clinics’ advertising in Pittsburgh: It’s not realistic.

It’s all show and marketing. Smoke and mirrors. It’s not real.

Before and After pictures proudly displaying the worst looking enormous veins and then the magic transformation … like it’s no big deal.

These set unrealistic expectations that the transformation can be done in a flash in one simple easy treatment that is painlessly done in less than an hour.

TV ads“It must be true because I saw it on the full-blown ad on my big screen TV in my rumpus room.” (Sarcasm implied)

Of course, there was no mention of compression support stockings, high deductibles (40% chance you have one) or what coinsurance means.

The implication is with insurance, it’s all free (insurance will cover it all). – Wrong

It’s fast, and easy. Like something you could have done on your lunch hour and return to the gym and do squats the same day. – Wrong

TV and the internet are the places where millions of Americans get their information about health care.

It’s time that the vein doctors expand past the “fast and easy” scripted narratives.

Instead, vein physicians need to reflect the realities of American healthcare and its inherent insurance issues.

People would be helped more by being informed on how to put on their compression hose.

Doctors who advertise vein clinics on TV need to stop hiding dirty work behind a facade of smiling active seniors riding bikes into a sunset.

Show the staff and the billing department who actually work on the insurance approvals struggling to get approvals instead of hiding this behind the scenes.

It should begin to look less like a fantasy and more like the real world and the people living in it.

The Bottom Line

Happel Laser and Vein Center written on a clipboardThe Happel Laser & Vein Center is right in your area.

This article is your free physician locator.

The doctor is nice and listens.

He will take the time to answer your questions and explain things in a way you can understand.

Dr. Happel is a Mayo trained vein specialist with over thirty years of experience treating veins.

He has the longest experience of any vein specialist in the city of Pittsburgh.

If you can find a vein specialist in Pittsburgh with a longer personal experience specializing in veins, the treatment is on us.

Call us at 724-969-0600 to learn more and make a consultation today.

About The Author

Dr. John Happel

Dr. John Happel has been in practice as a surgeon since 1986 in the Pittsburgh region. He specializes in vascular surgery and has subspecialized in the treatment of varicose and spider veins since 1999. Dr. Happel is board certified in vascular surgery and recertified in vascular surgery in 2012. He was chosen in 1985 to fulfill the position for the vascular surgical fellowship at the world renowned Mayo Clinic.