What to expect at your varicose veins consultation

What to expect at your varicose veins consultation

Meeting your consultant is the first step to getting your health back on track. If you’re worried about your condition, or unsure what treatment will involve, they’re here to answer your questions and concerns and guide you to the decision that’s right for you.

Benenden Hospital carries out more varicose vein surgery per year than any private hospital in the UK*. Consultant Vascular Surgeon Eddie Chaloner talks about what to expect at a consultation.

What happens during the consultation?

If you’re looking at treatment for varicose veins, you’ll be invited to a clinic to meet Mr Aaron Sweeney or myself. The aim of the visit is to understand what’s wrong and agree on the best course of treatment.

During your visit we’ll:

Step 1: Understand the problem

Firstly, we’ll talk about your medical history, focusing on the problems the veins are causing and any previous surgery you’ve had.

Step 2: Assess your health

Next we’ll assess your general health by looking at your pre-existing health conditions and any medication you take. It’s worth bringing a list of your prescriptions with you.

Step 3: Run a scan on your leg

Following that, we’ll examine and scan your leg using an ultrasound machine. The ultrasound lets us look inside your leg to find out where the veins are actually coming from. You might be surprised to discover that the veins you can see with the naked eye are only the tip of the iceberg !

Once we understand what the problem is, we’ll explain the structure of your veins, usually by drawing a simple diagram.

Step 4: Talk about your options

We’ll then discuss your treatment options. Surgical treatment for varicose veins has changed completely in the last 15 years, from the old style ‘stripping’ operations (requiring a general anaesthetic, and often a stay in hospital) to minimally invasive ‘walk in / walk out’ surgery under local anaesthetic, which is more like a trip to the dentist.

What are my treatment options?

Your treatment might involve surgery, an injection (as with sclerotherapy treatment) or no surgical treatment at all. If you’re not suitable for surgery, either because of the structure of your veins, the risks involved or the likelihood of success, we’ll discuss this with you.

If you are suitable for surgery, we’ll discuss your expectations. Are you at risk of getting a venous ulcer in future? Are you concerned about how your legs will look after the surgery – or do you just want the pain and discomfort to go away?

What are the risks of surgery?

Finally, whatever option you choose, we’ll discuss the risks and benefits. Varicose vein surgery is very low risk and usually very successful. However, there are risks from any sort of surgery, and no treatment is guaranteed to make your leg look completely flawless, so it’s important that you have a clear and realistic understanding before starting your treatment.

Step 5: Agree on a treatment plan

By the end of the consultation, you should be able to make an informed decision about your care. There’s a lot to take in, so we’ll give you an information booklet to read which will include the details of your treatment.  If you need to come back to the Hospital for tests, we’ll explain what these involve and how much they might cost.

If you have any questions about what we’ve discussed, or there’s something you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

What happens after my consultation?

We’ll send you a letter to you and your GP summarising what we’ve talked about, including the next steps and who to contact if you have any concerns.

Find out more about varicose vein surgery at Benenden Hospital.

 

* According to PHIN data

Published on 28 February 2020