Around 75% of the adult population in the UK and Ireland will suffer from venous disease in their lifetime. Varicose Veins account for the largest group of those patients. These are bulging rope-like cords of veins that can occur anywhere on the legs, front or back, from the groin to the ankle. They tend to cause a lot more symptoms than spider veins or thread veins. This is because they allow blood to fall backwards towards the ankles increasing the pressure in tissues of the lower parts of the leg.
What causes varicose veins?
number of risk factors will allow veins to develop more rapidly in people who are prone to develop problems. These include-
- Prolonged standing
- Body weight
The most important risk is family history and unfortunately some people are just very good at developing varicose veins. The majority of patients inherit a tendency to form varicose veins from one or both of their parents.
What problems do varicose veins cause?
Varicose veins often cause symptoms in the affected leg. This commonly include
- Cramps/Night cramps/restless legs
A number of signs may be evident that tend to signify that the vein disease is at rick of progressing
- Spider veins, especially around the ankles
- Ankle swelling that is worse on the leg with more varicose veins
- Skin discoloration, especially around the ankles
- Bleeding veins and ulcers are fortunately much less common
If you suffer from any of these symptoms or signs and have visible veins, a consultation is highly recommended.
What treatment options are available?
The good news is that no one should be undergoing surgery in the modern age of varicose vein treatment. Two main keyhole methods are used to treat both the veins and the underlying problem that has lead to their development.
Endovenous Laser Therapy (or EVLT)
This often the best method to treat varicose veins. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. There is no need for hospital stays or general anaesthetics and a full return to normal activity is possible later that day. The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic on a walk-in walk-out basis and takes around 45 minutes in the Day Procedure Unit.
Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy
This method is used to treat all the veins that can’t be managed with EVLT. Ultrasound is used to identify and access all the hidden veins that are causing problems. A special foam is injected to kill off the veins. This is then absorbed by the body in a matter of minutes so that nothing is left behind. These procedures are performed in an outpatient appointment which lasts around 30 minutes. Normal activity can resume immediately.
I have had surgery before, can I still get treatment?
Yes. Both EVLT and Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy are ideal to manage both the recurrent veins and the hidden veins that have caused them to come back.
Will I need surgery if my varicose veins are really bad?
No. No-one should be having surgery in the modern era. Keyhole procedures are vastly more effective and avoid the need for what would be a more complex operation.
What are the alternatives to invasive procedures for varicose veins?
Good quality, well fitting compression stockings will control the symptoms of varicose veins and reduce the rate that veins progress. The will also reduce the risk of developing more serious complications of veins such as blood clots or skin damage. Unfortunately, compression stockings are not easy to wear on a year round basis and addressing the underlying venous disease is very beneficial.
What are the risks of not having treatment?
Varicose veins slowly get worse if they are left untreated. Existing veins become larger, bulge more and new varicose veins appear elsewhere. Symptoms also become more troublesome as veins get larger. The good news is that only 5% of sufferers are likely to go on to develop the more troublesome complications of varicose veins.
How can I arrange an appointment?
You can make and inquiry through the website, send an email to [email protected] or book in directly at one of the clinics. New consultation slots are available every week.