How to Find the Top Vascular Surgeon Vein Specialist in Pittsburgh

How to Find the Top Vascular Surgeon Vein Specialist in Pittsburgh

Choosing a Vascular Surgeon Vein Specialist: The Best Results Take a Little Research

Most vascular surgeons spend most or all of their time treating arteries. Finding the best vascular surgeon in Pittsburgh who specializes in veins requires that you do a little homework.

Nobody likes to do homework.

Most people think of this as an unpleasant task without offering a true benefit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Like exercising and eating the right food, it will pay off in the end.

The results?

Worth it!

The biggest mistake that you can make when hoping to find a top vein doctor is just picking the closest one to your house or responding to TV or radio advertising.

Experience specializing in treating varicose veins is invaluable.

Learn how long the vein clinician has been in practice.

How many vein treatments has your prospective vein doctor has actually performed?

Varicose Vein Disease is Complex.

No two people have the exact same issues with their varicose veins. These kinds of complex issues often demand a highly trained and experienced vein specialist.

Vascular surgeons are the only specialists trained to treat any vein problem that arises.

Choosing a board certified vascular surgeon who is skilled in performing complex venous procedures makes sense. They have every technique available at their disposal.

Any physician can offer and is legally allowed to treat varicose vein disease.

The shocking thing is that most doctors who treat varicose veins in Pittsburgh and throughout the country are not trained to treat varicose veins.

That’s why it is so important to look for a bona fide actual vein specialist like a vascular surgeon. You want and need a top varicose vein expert who is fellowship trained in vein problems.

Vascular surgery fellowships are the added extra years spent in training at the end of the usual four years of medical school and five years of surgical training.

That specialty training in vascular disease and varicose vein disease differentiates vascular surgeons from other doctors. The others are trained in nonsurgical specialties.

In most other specialties, they never saw or treated a varicose vein at all during their training.

All Doctors Who Treat Varicose Veins Are Not the Same

Different types of doctors have different skill sets, different abilities to perform procedures, and different training.

Training in vascular surgery means that doctor has proven to be an expert in performing complex treatment procedures which is mandatory when treating venous disease.

There are a multitude of minimally invasive surgical and nonsurgical options to treat often complicated and complex varicose vein disease.

A vein specialist must also be familiar with the latest technology.

Board certified vascular surgeons are not limited in treating circulation problems like family doctors, emergency room doctors, or general surgeons who also perform varicose vein procedures in Pittsburgh.

To sound legitimate, these others who trained in different specialties besides the circulation, call themselves phlebologists.

Do you really want someone who has not actually trained in varicose veins to treat your veins?

Look for board certification from reputable organizations like the American Board of Surgery.

True boards are those that are approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Your doctor must have committed their early life to specialized training in veins to be able to provide you the top varicose vein care possible.

True board certification matters.

Avoid vein venters where their vein doctors have not trained in venous disease and varicose veins.

To sum it up – It’s grade school Tee ball (phlebologists) vs. the New York Yankees (board certified vascular surgeons).

Varicose Vein Scenarios Available in Pittsburgh

Situation #1 – You enter the consultation room. A female assistant (of some kind) greets you. You have no idea about their training or background. She wears the white coat. She doesn’t inform you of her qualifications. She looks at your legs briefly and tells you that you need a Doppler test on your veins. She orders a medical test without a doctor even evaluating you. You get the test done. Someone else informs you that you need multiple procedures done. You never see a doctor. Finally, on the day of the procedure, a doctor shows up. He or she does a treatment. You never see him or her again. They tell you that you need a few more procedures. You don’t understand why. Other assistants perform those procedures. You feel unsure that the lack of continuity of care may not be optimal to your care. You leave concerned and unsure. You feel like a number in their caseload.

Situation #2 – You enter the consultation room. Dr. Happel, your vascular surgeon, greets you. He seems nice. His qualifications as a fellowship trained board certified vascular surgeon are made clear to you. He informs you that you are in the only inspected and accredited vein center in Pittsburgh. You breathe a sigh of relief. He examines your legs. He himself, being a certified vascular ultrasound technician performs a complete Doppler examination of your veins. He does not delegate any of your examination or your treatment to anyone else. In a little over half an hour, he shows you the problem and clearly discusses the treatment plan in words that you can easily understand. There is no rush. He follows you through with your treatment personally performing all of the necessary procedures himself. You feel confident being treated by a varicose vein specialist with over thirty years of experience. He has been in control of the diagnosis and treatment of your varicose veins from the beginning to the end. You leave feeling grateful and relieved.

Your Veins Are All Different (Just Like You Are Different)

Therefore, the treatment that your friend or family member had for their veins may not be right for you.

In fact, it is not unusual that when people have varicose veins in both legs that the treatment for the right leg is different than the left leg.

Veins in your leg come in all sizes and locations.

removal of a veinSome veins have abnormal valves inside them which cause them to enlarge. Abnormal veins cannot be repaired.

They must be removed.

There are many different treatment options for getting rid of abnormal veins. Most of your leg veins are normal and must be preserved for your normal circulation.

When discussing vein treatments, the first burning question is always “Don’t I need that vein? Will removing that large vein mess up my circulation?”

The answer is – No.

Most of the blood in your legs is returned to your heart through the deep veins which are not touched during your varicose vein treatments. Your blood is rerouted. Your circulation is improved.

Other Qualifications of a Top Vascular Surgeon Vein Specialist

Ultrasound is a critical and important part of both diagnosing and treating your varicose veins.

When you first present to your vascular surgeon, they will examine your veins with ultrasound. This is also called Doppler.

Using Doppler ultrasound, they can map the veins and find out where the root of the problem is.

That root is often the saphenous vein. If the saphenous vein is abnormal, it will need treated as well as your visible veins near the surface of the skin.

During your initial consultation, if you don’t see the vascular physician who will treat you, leave and don’t come back.

If ancillary personnel are doing your consultation and ordering Doppler tests on you, you are in a vein mill. That is a franchise interested in performing a large volume of vein treatments. You will be treated as such.

Make sure that the vascular specialist is trained and certified in performing Doppler ultrasound and also in interpreting vascular ultrasound.

Top varicose veins specialists have the RVT (certified to perform) and RPVI (certified to interpret) Doppler ultrasound certifications.

The Latest Varicose Vein Treatments

New high tech developments in the field of treating varicose veins is evolving at a rapid rate. Your vascular surgeon should be familiar with all of the latest FDA approved techniques and be able to discuss the pros and cons with you.

After an in-depth discussion, you will be able to weigh the risks and benefits of each type of procedure and choose the best one for you.

Minimally invasive treatments using state-of-the-art equipment will be able to cover the wide range of conditions in the least invasive manner possible.

That allows for a quick and painless recovery. It also allows you to return to work the next day in most cases.

Read Reviews of Top Vein Specialists in Pittsburgh

Reading internet reviews is a great way to learn about other’s experience at a vein center. If there are no reviews for that center, especially if it is a busy franchise, that is a problem.

YELP reviews, Google reviews,, and are some of the usual places that people look to find doctor’s reviews.

Learn what people think about the availability, affability, ability, bedside manner and education of the doctor.

  • Are there sanctions against them?
  • What kind of training did they complete?
  • Did they graduate from a foreign medical school?
  • How did their patients feel about the results of their vein treatment?
  • Was it painful?
  • Are there long waiting times?
  • Is free parking available?
  • Is the staff rude?
  • Is scheduling easy?
  • Is the doctor trustworthy?
  • Is the doctor nice?

All of these factors contribute to a positive experience.

varicose vein search on the internetYou can learn a lot from a little internet research.

Most of the family doctors in Pittsburgh have sold their practices to either UPMC, Highmark, Jefferson Hospital or Washington Hospital.

Primary care physicians are obligated to send their referrals to the entity that bought their practice.

Happel Laser & Vein Center remains independent and accepts all commercial insurance plans.

Other doctors send their family and themselves to our practice even though they are obligated to refer their patients to the organization that bought their practice. You can read more about these vein referral practices in Pittsburgh here.


Let’s recap.

Do you want the top varicose vein clinic in Pittsburgh?

To find the very best vein doctor in Pittsburgh, you have to do a little research first.

Word-of-mouth is the best if you know someone who has had varicose vein work done.

Another good option is internet research. Most people research a car or a TV more than their doctors. Spend time on this because it will pay off in the end.

Make sure your vein specialist is a board-certified fellowship trained vascular surgeon.

Dr. Happel completed his vascular surgery fellowship in 1986 at the Mayo Clinic.

He has the longest experience specializing in varicose veins in the city of Pittsburgh (over thirty years).

He is an authority in the field of varicose vein surgery and is proficient in minimally invasive vein treatments.

He alone will diagnose and treat your varicose vein disease. There is no ancillary staff that will be delegated to perform these important duties which is done in the other vein centers in Pittsburgh.

certificate of vein center accreditationThe Happel Laser & Vein Center is the only vein center in Pittsburgh that has been inspected and is accredited.

You wouldn’t go to a restaurant or fly on a plane that hasn’t been inspected. We are also the only accredited vein center in the city. That means a lot.

Top vein doctors are also accredited in Doppler ultrasound. Do not choose a vein doctor who has not achieved vascular ultrasound training in both performing and also interpreting vascular ultrasound. The RVT and RPVT credentials are the proof of the highest certification in the field of vascular ultrasound.

Call Happel Laser & Vein Center today at 724-969-0600 to find out more.

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.