Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet. They often look lumpy, bulging or twisted and are a blue or dark purple colour.
Varicose veins develop when the small valves inside your veins stop working properly. As they start to weaken, your blood cannot flow back to the heart properly. Instead the blood flows backwards and collects in your veins, eventually causing them to become swollen and enlarged, the definition of ‘varicose’.
The most common symptom of varicose veins is pain, described as an aching or cramping in the legs. Other common symptoms include tiredness, restlessness, burning, throbbing, tingling, or heavy legs.
Both men and women suffer from varicose veins. Women expose their legs more, so tend to be the most common patients we see. But men also need to pay attention to varicose veins, simply because the longer you leave them the more invasive the treatment you’ll need.
This treatment is extremely successful.
If your varicose veins are causing pain or discomfort, we provide three effective treatments to cure and prevent the condition. Your surgeon will go through the alternatives with you during your initial consultation.
Before we do anything, we take an ultrasound called a Dopplerscan. This identifies which valves in your vein aren’t working, and how wide the vein is. Only then can we recommend the best treatment for your individual circumstances. We usually need to carry out a combination of the above treatments, and we’ll advise you at your consultation.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure for improving the appearance of superficial blue or red veins. The veins are injected with a solution called Fibrovein which disturbs the internal lining of the vein, causing the blood to clot inside. Over time the body destroys the vein and it disappears. This solution is used in different concentrations depending on the size of the vein.
Sometimes we recommend foam injections, making small volumes of Fibrovein solution into a foam. In this form it can be used to treat larger underlying veins, those we can’t treat with conventional Sclerotherapy.
We mark the correct vein on your leg, then inject a local anaesthetic followed by a small needle placed into the vein. Ultrasound scanning lets us inject the foam into the exact right place. You might feel a stinging sensation during the procedure, but it is usually painless. WE carefully monitor the passage of the solution through your vein or veins, and if we need to we will repeat the monitoring and injections two to three times.
Once your treatment is complete, we remove the fine needle and apply compression pads to your legs. We will also give you special compression stockings to support the treated veins during your recovery.
It is important to take a short walk before you drive to us on the day of the procedure, because it helps the solution travel around the vein.
You need to keep your support stockings on for at least a week to let the solution compress the veins and increase the likelihood of success. Depending on the number of veins we treat, you might need two or three sessions to get the right outcome.
EVLT treatment is usually recommended for wider, larger veins and veins that haven’t responded well to other treatments like Foam Sclerotherapy.
This is a minimally invasive procedure using targeted laser energy to shrink the wall of superficial veins. This causes the vein to dissolve so blood cannot flow through it, eliminating the bulging of the vein at its source. Luckily this kind of vein isn’t important for transferring of blood to the heart, and afterwards your blood cleverly diverts to the many normal veins left in your leg.
After a local anaesthetic, we insert a laser fibre through a small needle hole in the skin and onwards into the vein. The laser is slowly heated and the vein collapses around it. This procedure usually takes forty five minutes and there’s minimal post-operative pain. Recovery period is quick, and we encourage walking immediately after your procedure to stimulate blood flow. You can resume your normal activities soon afterwards, and dealing with any bruising or soreness is simple enough with a non-aspirin type of pain relief.
Sometimes the blood flow in a vein can stop, causing a clot and resulting in the vein becoming hard, red and tender. This condition is called Thrombophlebitis. Sometimes, when the underlying causes of varicose veins have been treated successfully, the lumpy veins on the surface will clot and result in Thrombophlebitis. If the clots are small they can be treated with Sclerotherapy. Larger clots may need to be removed by a Phlebectomy, which can be done at the same time as EVLT or Radio Frequency because it removes small clots, not the actual veins.
This procedure can be performed under a local anaesthetic. We make tiny incisions in and around the affected area, then we use a special Phlebectomy hook to pull the varicose vein or veins out of your leg. This sounds invasive but it’s actually a superficial procedure and the results are excellent, as long as you correct the underlying causes.
Radio frequency is used to treat veins. It involves a small catheter and heat rather than a laser, and is usually performed under anaesthetic. You can leave hospital the same day, and you’ll need to wear compression garments for 1-2 weeks afterwards.
We decide between EVLT and Radio Frequency based on the width and severity of the veins we need to treat.
Radio Frequency treatment is performed in a hospital as a day case under local anaesthetic, and both your legs can be treated at the same time. The results are excellent, particularly when your veins haven’t responded well to other treatments.