Varicose veins are a very common condition. Around one in 10 people will suffer from them with the majority being women. Although varicose veins can appear anywhere in the body they most commonly occur in the legs and feet.
What are varicose veins?
Veins control the flow of blood around the body and to the heart. Veins have a series of valves along their length which open and close so that blood is only allowed to flow in one direction. Varicose veins happen when these valves become damages and a stop letting the blood through. Blood will start to build up behind the damaged valve until it becomes inflamed. The swollen vein are usually blue or dark purple in colour and can look lumpy and twisted.
Who gets varicose veins?
Women are more likely than men to get varicose veins. While there is often a hereditary link with varicose veins (you are more likely to suffer from them if a relative has had them) a number of factors can increase your chances of getting varicose veins. These include age, being overweight, being pregnant or having a job where you spend a large amount of time on your feet.
Treatments for varicose veins
There are a number of established treatments for varicose veins. When you visit London Vascular Clinics we will assess which treatments will be the most effective for you.
Some cases of varicose veins can be treated with compression stockings. Whilst this deals with the symptoms of varicose veins in the short term it will not cure them. Nevertheless it can be a good option for those suffering varicose veins due to pregnancy or where other related medical conditions prevent more invasive treatments.
If you are looking for a longer term treatment for varicose vein treatments then there are a number of options we may discuss with you. These are:
sclerotherapy can be done under a local anesthetic and requires minimum recuperation time. In most cases you will be able to start walking and return to work immediately. Sclerotherapy works by injecting a special foam into the problem veins. This shrinks the veins and closes them leading them to reduce in size and become less painful. While Sclerotherapy is generally very effective in the short term varicose veins can re-appear over time, making this treatment less suitable for some patients.
There are two types of endothermal ablation. These are Endovenous laser ablation (ELA) and endothermal radiofrequency ablation (ERA). Both methods work by heating up the inside of a varicose vein until it collapses, sealing itself in the process. With ERA the heating is done via radiofrequency vibration with ELA the heat comes from a laser. Both treatments are normally done under a local anaesthetic and have a relatively short recovery time.
Ligation and stripping
This is the most invasive form of treatment for varicose veins. It involves a surgeon completely removing the varicose vein by cutting it out under general anaesthetic. Although it is normally done as a day procedure the recovery time for this treatment can be several weeks. In some cases ligation and stripping can be combined with one or more of the other treatments outlined above.
At London Vascular Clinics we will make a detailed assessment of your condition and discuss with you which treatment will be most suitable.