What Is a Vascular Surgeon vs. Phlebologist? Vein Specialists 101

vein specialist administering vein care

Table of Contents

  • What Is a Vascular Surgeon? 
  • What Is a Phlebologist? 
  • When Should I Consult a Phlebologist? 

If you are lucky, you never have to think about your veins. They just quietly move your blood through your body without needing much attention. However, if you are one of the estimated 30% of Americans suffering from some form of vein problems, you may spend quite a bit of time thinking about your veins.1

The fact is, everyone should be aware of the health of their veins. They are responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients to every part of your body. An issue with your veins may cause problems in your brain, organs, appendages, skin, and anywhere else. 

Luckily, protecting your veins is similar to protecting the health of your body and all of its other organs. You need to eat a varied and healthy diet, maintain a healthy body weight, get plenty of exercise, and drink plenty of water.2 

No matter how carefully you take care of your veins, you may still have problems. If so, you need to see a doctor trained to find and treat vein issues. These vein specialists can be any type of doctor, as long as they have received training in vein health and treatment. For some vein issues, you will need to see a vascular surgeon, but a phlebologist or vein specialist may be a better choice for many issues. 

What Is a Vascular Surgeon? 

A vascular surgeon is a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of illness and ailments of the circulatory system.3 As Board Certified surgeons, they are qualified to operate, but this is not all they do. 

Vascular surgeons will also help you find non-invasive treatment options and advise you on the best ways to keep your veins healthy and problem-free.4 

Vascular surgeons must be able to recognize a broad range of problems and be familiar with the huge number of veins throughout the body where they may occur. They do not treat veins in the heart and the brain, but there are other even more specialized surgeons that treat vein problems in those areas. Some of the issues vascular surgeons may treat include: 

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): This is a blood clot deep inside the muscles of your body, usually the larger muscles of the calves and thighs. 
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): This is when the arteries in the arms and legs get narrower and cannot move as much blood 
  • Aneurysm: This is a bulge caused by a weak spot in an artery. Left untreated, they can rupture and cause serious problems. 
  • Atherosclerosis: When plaque buildup in the veins partially or completely blocks blood flow. 
  • Damage caused by an injury5 

Vascular surgeons may also treat varicose and spider veins, but usually, the treatment of these issues is left to the phlebologist. 

What Is a Phlebologist? 

A phlebologist, or vein specialist, is a doctor of any specialty that has been trained in vein problems and treatment.6 While they learn about many issues associated with veins, they most frequently work with the treatment of varicose and spider veins. 

Because phlebologists work almost exclusively with varicose and spider veins, they are well versed in the causes, treatments, and preventive measures.7 If you believe you have varicose or spider veins, you may want to schedule an appointment with a local vein specialist, even if they are not a vascular surgeon.

When Should I Consult a Phlebologist? 

Anytime you have any questions about the health of the veins in your legs, you can schedule an appointment with a phlebologist. People often see vein specialists when they discover or become concerned about veins visible on their legs or face. These may be either varicose veins or spider veins, and determining which will help you decide which course of treatment may be best for you.

Varicose Veins 

Varicose veins are twisted veins that bulge out from the skin’s surface.8 They may be blue or the same color as the rest of your skin. They often cause pain, swelling, or a burning or itchy sensation and may make your legs feel heavy. They can lead to serious medical complications if not treated promptly and properly. 

Treatments for varicose veins include non-invasive options like wearing gradient compression stockings, dietary changes, and exercise routines. In many cases, these steps may prevent the formation of new varicose veins but will not reduce the appearance or discomfort of those you already have. A vein specialist can offer you several treatment options to remove the veins

Spider Veins 

Spider veins are small, red, purple, or blue veins visible on the surface of your skin.9 They do not bulge out of the skin and rarely cause pain or discomfort. They also do not lead to more serious complications if left untreated, although they may grow in size. 

Treatments for spider veins are considered cosmetic, and most insurance companies will not cover them. 

If you are still wondering if a vascular surgeon vs. phlebologist is right for you, visit MyVeinTreatment.com. You will find a great deal of information about veins and the doctors who treat them. There is even a Vein Specialist Locator Tool to help you connect with the right vein specialist for you.  


  1. PremierHealth.com: “Venous Disease Impacts Millions of Americans but Only Fraction Seek Help.” 
  2. MyVeinTreatment.com: “7 Tips for How to Keep Healthy Veins.” 
  3. WebMD.com: “What is a Vascular Surgeon?” 
  4. Vascular.org: “What Is a Vascular Surgeon?”
  5. WebMD.com: “What is a Vascular Surgeon?” 
  6. Phlebology.com.au: “Phlebology” 
  7. MyVeinTreatment.com: “What Is a Phlebologist and What Do They Do?” 
  8. MayoClinic.org: “Varicose Veins.” 

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