If you’ve not been diagnosed with varicose veins, then their cause and treatments might be a mystery to you. Commonly associated with older people and those forever on their feet, varicose veins can affect men and women of any age and occupation. Although they do not present major health issues, varicose veins can change the appearance and sensation of your legs and ankles. We ask our in-house vascular specialists to give a breakdown of what they are and how we can combat them…
Varicose veins are large, swollen and bulging veins that appear on the legs and feet. Often confused with thread veins, varicose veins can be uncomfortable, noticeable and sometimes painful. If you have varicose veins symptoms, you may be experiencing the following:
· Dark blue or purple veins in legs
· Swollen legs and/or ankles
· Aching, throbbing or heavy legs
· Skin sensitive to the touch
· Muscle cramp in the legs and/or ankles
· Dry and itchy skin around the affected vein(s)
The appearance of varicose veins can differ greatly from person to person, which is why it’s so hard to self-diagnose. You should pay attention to the shape, colour and feel of your veins if you think they might be varicose. Commonly, varicose veins have these characteristics:
· Enlarged or protruding blood vessels
· Swelling or twisting
· Spider-like appearance
Varicose veins appear on the lower leg, back of the knee or calves. In rare cases, varicose vein pain can also be felt in the thighs or upper leg, arms and genitals. Treatment for varicose veins in legs is popular, but always remember to consult a fully trained specialist for advice before undergoing any treatment.
When the valves inside the veins stop working, blood collects and causes them to swell underneath the skin. There are many causes for varicose veins, and it is a common misconception that only older people are at risk of getting them. It is true that varicose veins can be hereditary and are easier to see as a person ages; but a person of any age, gender and occupation can get them. Certain things can increase your chances of getting varicose veins though¹, such as:
· If you have a job that involves standing all day, such as a doctor, nurse or hairdresser
· If you are female
· If you are elderly
· If you are overweight
· If you are pregnant
In most instances of varicose vein removal, minor varicose veins surgery is needed. An ultrasound test is carried out to diagnose the actual cause of your varicose veins. Once the cause is identified, one of three different treatments is selected; each take 45-60 minutes to complete depending on which one you opt for. You should always discuss your requirements with a fully trained vein specialist- also known as a consultant vascular surgeon- before choosing a treatment.
The treatments you can opt for include:
1. Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), which uses laser light to seal the vein from the inside
2. Radiofrequency VNUS Closure, which is like EVLA but uses heat to seal the vein from the inside, as opposed to a laser
3. Vein Avulsion, which involves removing the vein via a small incision into the skin. This is also known as `vein stripping` or `vein removal`.
Varicose veins are often confused with thread veins. While varicose are blocked veins with a backlog of blood, thread veins are broken capillaries or damaged vessels just below the skin. Thread veins- commonly known as spider veins- are often a lot smaller and lighter in colour, and are usually found on the face and legs. This said, thread veins can be found anywhere on the body and display in a web-like pattern, which is where they get the nickname `spider veins` from. Both varicose veins and thread veins can be diagnosed and treated easily by a fully trained specialist, so be sure to seek medical help if you think you might have symptoms.
Varicose veins are diagnosed by appearance, but also via a duplex ultrasound scan to determine the type of varicose veins you may have. At Transform, our varicose veins treatment cost starts from £2,000, with an additional fee for the scan. We treat varicose veins at several of our clinics, including: