Varicose veins are very common, and up to one in three of us will experience them in our lifetime. We know they are caused by failure of the valves in veins that allow one-way blood flow back to the heart from the legs. These poorly functioning valves allow blood to pool and cause swelling of the veins themselves leading to the grape-like appearance of varicose veins under your skin. Many factors can contribute to varicose veins, including other family members having them, pregnancy, ageing, occupations where individuals stand still for prolonged periods, previous DVT and gaining weight.
Varicose veins do not normally pose any serious risk to your health, although they can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, but you may wish to remove them as they are causing pain that affects everyday life, prevent skin staining, skin irritation, and uncomfortable swelling of the ankles and feet.
If your varicose veins are severe then you could develop leg ulcers or blood clots, which are a more serious health risk. Clearly the varicose veins are unsightly and can be removed for cosmetic reasons as well. Fortunately, varicose vein surgery is a relatively easy procedure with minimal recovery time.
Several treatment options are available to reduce and close your varicose veins, allowing the blood to reroute through your healthy veins. These options are minimally invasive using laser or radiofrequency (microwaves) to close the affected vein. The surgery is performed under a local anaesthetic, which means that although you will be awake, the entire area will be numb and you will not feel anything.
Treatment typically takes an hour, and your consultant will advise you on the most appropriate option for your condition.
Treatment options for varicose veins, thread veins and spider veins
The most common treatment for superficial yet unsightly thread veins is sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a chemical, known as a sclerosant, into the veins. This irritates the structure of the veins, causing them to close up and fade away.
This is a similar procedure that uses a foam version of the sclerosant, and can be effective in treating larger veins. Dependent on the extent and number of your varicose veins, you may need several sessions to achieve the desired result.
EndoVenous Laser Ablation (EVLA/EVLT)
This is a new, non-surgical method of treating varicose veins using a laser guided through a fine catheter. The vein walls are heated up and destroyed, and your body then naturally absorbs the remaining dead tissue. This procedure can be carried out in a treatment room rather than an operating theatre, and takes around 20 to 30 minutes per leg.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
RFA, also known as the VNUS Closure procedure or Venefit™, is another non-surgical option to treat varicose veins. This method uses radio frequency (RF) energy to heat the vein wall and seal it closed. A fine catheter and ultrasound guidance is used, along with local anaesthetic. The procedure can be carried out in a treatment room on an outpatient basis, and takes around 20 to 30 minutes per leg.
Venous avulsions (phlebectomies)
Following EVLT or RFA therapy, a large number of patients ask for the removal of their visible, lumpy veins. This is not always necessary, as in half of all patients laser treatment of the main feeding vein depressurizes its adjoining veins resulting in their disappearance. This depressurization affect does however take up to six months. If you would like these veins removed during your laser operation, this is easily done using local anaesthetic and a tiny hook. There will be scarring but should not be visible.
This is a novel minimally invasive therapy with good promising early results. In this situation the failed vein is filled with glue through a fine catheter in order to irriate the it’s walls and result in the vein sealing off.
Following treatment, you can go straight back to your usual daily activities and return to work within one or two days. We suggest you take it easy for the first few days, but after this you will help your recovery by staying active and mobile. Some people notice an itching sensation or some swelling and bruising, but this normally only lasts for a couple of days. A small proportion of patients may feel some pain after treatment and simple analgesics will help with this. You’ll be given painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication for seven days, and will also be required to wear surgical compression stockings for up to six weeks. The hospital will provide these and our medical team will supply you with all the information and advice you need in order to make a full recovery.
Fixed Price Self-Pay Packages
We can offer self-funding patients peace of mind with our fixed price packages. There are several packages available for Varicose Vein treatments, for more information please click here.
Varicose Veins Consultants