Varicose Veins – Everything you need to know
Varicose Veins generally do not cause any serious risk to your health but some people consider them unsightly and seek to remove them for cosmetic reasons. The effect of varicose veins is caused by weakened valves which cause blood to become trapped instead of flowing freely. This makes the veins stand out prominently from under your skin.
Many factors can contribute to varicose veins, including pregnancy, ageing and gaining weight and they will not disappear without treatment. Fortunately, varicose vein surgery is a relatively easy procedure that takes approximately an hour to perform.
Q: What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are unsightly large veins on the surface of the leg which bulge and can cause aching, heaviness and swelling of the leg.
Q: Why have I got varicose veins?
Varicose veins are very common and occur in one in three of the general population. They occur because we stand on two legs and the gravitational effect of the heart being far away from the feet leads to increased pressure in the veins. Sometimes a valve in the vein does not close properly and this leads to bulging of the vein.
Q: What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
The symptoms are pain, swelling, achiness, heaviness of the leg and they are cosmetically unsightly. If they are left alone, after many years you can get ulceration and skin changes such as eczema.
Q: How can I eradicate them?
The previous method of eradicating varicose veins was under a general anaesthetic with stripping of the veins. This was a painful procedure leaving a large scar in the groin. The new modern methods of treating varicose veins is keyhole surgery or endovascular surgery. This involves passing a small wire into the vein and destroying the vein with thermal energy which can be given by either a laser or by electrical energy. The remainder of the veins can be removed through tiny incisions which are 1mm in length. The entire procedure can be carried out under local anaesthetic and patients can return to work the following day.
Q: What do I need to do after surgery to look after my legs?
Your surgeon will give you stockings to wear for a week to two weeks. You should do regular light exercise and you can return to work within one or two days. A small proportion of patients get some pain and simple analgesics will reduce the discomfort.