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Mr Chaloner explains varicose vein treatment
Our highly experienced and renowned vascular surgeons have performed thousands of thread vein removal procedures, so you can feel confident that you’re in safe hands.
Eddie Chaloner, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Benenden Hospital in Kent, talks about varicose vein surgery.
Blood flows smoothly in healthy veins, where it travels to the heart and is prevented from flowing backwards by tiny valves. It’s common that these valves can become weak, leading to blood flowing backwards and collecting in the vein, so it becomes swollen and enlarged, causing the formation of varicose veins.
There’s no way to completely prevent them developing, but – according to Mr Eddie Chaloner, our Consultant Vascular Surgeon - there are some things you can do to lower your chances of developing 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, elevate your legs to help with blood flow.
Compression tights can be purchased from most pharmacies and can help relieve the symptoms of varicose veins by squeezing the legs and helping blood flow.
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, these can include:
While men and women are equally prone to getting varicose veins, women are more likely to visit a doctor about their veins because of the way they look, whereas men tend to put it off until the veins are more advanced and causing skin trouble or severe pain.
Similarly, though varicose veins aren’t directly caused by pregnancy, pregnancy hormones may make pre-existing varicose veins worse. The good news is that after pregnancy the veins should subside a bit, even if they don’t go away completely.
Unfortunately, getting older can also lead to varicose veins developing. This is because veins naturally lose their elasticity which can stop valves within the veins from working as well as before.
There’s no evidence that sitting cross-legged causes varicose veins, but we’d recommend that you avoid crossing your legs to prevent restriction on the blood flow in the veins which can lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
It’s not clear whether varicose veins are truly caused by genetic reasons or whether they’re just very common. There may be some genetic influence, as some very young people get varicose veins, but it’s probably not the whole story.
We offer sclerotherapy as a treatment for spider or thread veins. This involves injecting a special foam or fluid into the affected veins. After a sclerotherapy procedure, treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take longer to see the full results. You might need several sclerotherapy treatments.
If you need treatment, but don’t want to wait, you can access varicose vein treatment quickly as a self-pay patient without needing a GP referral. Make an appointment by completing our online form or by calling our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.
If you’re a member of Benenden Health, please contact their Member services team on 0800 414 8100 to discuss your varicose veins treatment. You’ll need a referral from your GP.
You should arrange to see your GP for a referral letter.
Meeting your Consultant at a clinic is the first step to pain-free, healthier legs. The aim of the visit is to understand what’s wrong and agree on the best course of private treatment for your varicose veins. If you’re worried about your condition, or unsure what treatment will involve, they’re here to answer your questions and concerns. During your visit they’ll:
Firstly, they’ll ask you about your medical history, focusing on the problems the veins are causing and any previous surgery you’ve had.
Next they’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.
Following that, they’ll examine and scan your leg using an ultrasound machine. The ultrasound lets them look inside your leg to find out where the veins are 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 they understand what the problem is, they’ll explain the structure of your veins, usually by drawing a simple diagram.
They’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’ thread vein removal surgery under local anaesthetic, which is more like a trip to the dentist.
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, your Consultant will discuss this with you.
If your veins are suitable for surgery, they’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?
Finally, whatever option you choose, your Consultant will 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.
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 your Consultant will 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, they’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.
We’ll send a letter to you and your GP summarising what’s been discussed, including the next steps and who to contact if you have any concerns.
Patients were often told to walk around a lot after the old ‘vein stripping’ procedure to reduce the risk of DVT and to reduce pain after the operation. With modern laser treatment, most patients are walking normally right after surgery and there’s no need to ‘walk off’ the surgery.
This used to be very common with the old ‘high tie and strip’ operation, where up to 30% of patients would get a significant recurrence after surgery. It’s much less common now, where the recurrence rate after laser surgery is much lower.
To find out more about the cost of treatment, visit the varicose veins section of our pricing page. To book an appointment or find out more, contact our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.
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