Varicose Veins Procedures
Varicose veins are abnormally dilated veins, which lie just beneath the skin on the legs. They are caused by malfunction of the valves within the main superficial vein trunks - a problem that affects around 10 per cent of the adult population (male and female) and may be a hereditary condition.
Patients report a variety of symptoms, including aching, itching and ankle swelling. Some people have little in the way of symptoms, but find the appearance of their leg(s) unacceptable.
Traditional treatment of varicose veins is with open surgery in an operation that involves separating the surface vein trunks from their connection with the deeper vein either in the groin or behind the knee and then removing the vein and its malfunctioning valves with the technique of “stripping”. In addition, the varicose veins are removed using tiny little incisions. Traditional surgery is very effective and even now is sometimes the best way of treating varicose veins. Mr Chalmers is able to perform open surgery using tiny incisions and the cosmetic result is very acceptable. However, it involves general anaesthesia and, although small, there are surgical wounds.
Minimally Invasive Techniques
Nowadays, we are able to offer modern technologies that can treat varicose veins effectively while minimising scarring and generally allowing patients to return to normal activities within a day or two. At Spire Murrayfield Hospital, Mr Chalmers treats patients with varicose veins with a new technique called radiofrequency ablation (or Venefit). This technique is not available at any other private hospital in Scotland and Mr Chalmers performed the first Venefit procedure at Spire Murrayfield Hospital. It can be performed under general or local anaesthesia. The treatment involves passing a catheter into the vein in the upper calf under ultrasound guidance and then introducing heat energy that effectively closes the vein off. At the same time, Mr Chalmers removes the varicose veins themselves, by making minute incisions and using with a special vein hook. The result is no wounds and no sutures, and some patients may find that they can return to work or leisure activities almost immediately.
This treatment involves injecting an agent (sclerosant) into a varicose vein to glue its walls to each other and effectively eradicate the vein. It is a very effective treatment when the main vein trunks have already been treated or if the varicose veins are localised. More recently, Mr Chalmers has increasingly used the technique of “foam sclerotherapy”. This involves mixing the sclerosant with air and forming a froth that can be injected into the veins. This technique allows more extensive varicose veins to be treated by injection. It is necessary to wear firm support stockings after this treatment.