Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins that develop when small valves inside them stop functioning correctly.
What are varicose veins?
In healthy veins, blood flows directly around the body to the heart and a series of valves prevent the blood flowing backwards. If the valves are weakened, blood can flow backwards and collect in the vein. This can cause the vein to become enlarged, leading to pain and discomfort for some people.
Some people with varicose veins experience no physical symptoms besides their appearance on the body, commonly on the legs or feet. When side effects do appear, however, these can include:
- Achy or heavy feeling in your legs
- Swelling in lower legs
- Itchy or burning feelings in lower legs
- Pain or discomfort after standing for a prolonged period
- Skin discolouration or visible veins in legs that appear twisted or bulging
When it comes to cures or preventions for varicose veins, there are a number of options available. In order to ascertain the correct method for you, it is recommended to speak to a medical professional.
Treating varicose veins
Regular exercise and taking breaks throughout the day, particularly if your job or lifestyle requires long periods of standing or sitting, can help ease the discomfort. Try to take breaks every 30 minutes and change positions. If possible, elevating your legs can also help with blood flow and reduce the symptoms of varicose veins.
Compressive tights can be purchased from most pharmaceutical companies and can help relieve the symptoms of varicose veins. They work by squeezing the legs and helping blood flow.
Further treatment for varicose veins
Further treatment can be sought from medical professionals if symptoms do not alleviate after self-care, to treat complications, or for cosmetic reasons. In this case, there are a number of options available:
This treatment uses radiofrequency energy to heat the walls of the varicose vein until they collapse. This seals the vein and causes blood to be directed to another healthier vein.
The procedure involves making a small incision above or below the knee and inserting a catheter into the vein. A probe is then inserted into the vein which emits radiofrequency energy.
Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT)
Similarly to radiofrequency ablation, Endovenous Laser Therapy (or Treatment) uses a catheter inserted into the veins above the knee but then uses a small laser to heat the vein and seal it. This procedure is carried out under general or local anaesthetic.
Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy
If the previous methods are unsuitable for you, you may be recommended ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy treatment which injects veins with a special foam which seals them closed. This process is carried out under local anaesthetic.
High ligation and vein stripping
If ablation, laser treatment and sclerotherapy are unsuitable for you then you will commonly then be offered ligation and vein stripping surgery.
This process involves tying the affected veins and then removing it. This is achieved through two incisions, one made on the upper leg, near the groin, and another around the knee. A wire is then passed through the vein and then removed.
At Benenden Hospital, we provide a safe, effective environment to help treat people with varicose veins. To arrange an appointment, or to find out more about varicose veins and their treatments, complete our online enquiry form or call our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.
Published on 08 August 2019