I’m a man in my late forties and I have a varicose vein in my left leg, which first appeared 6 months ago. My calf often becomes very red and swollen especially when I have done any weight bearing exercise, which is often as I have a physical job. What would be my treatment options?
Mr Andrew Mavor, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Spire Leeds Hospital
Varicose veins are very common and most do not need treatment. However, they can cause symptoms including aching and swelling and a small number of patients go on to develop eczema or ulcers. The symptoms you describe are fairly typical and my recommendation would be to see a specialist. He or she will examine the veins and carry out a scan to find out where the feeding vein is located, as it is usually this vein that is treated.
The two main treatment choices are surgery, which needs a general anaesthetic and a couple of weeks off work, or one of the newer keyhole treatments which include laser and radiofrequency ablation, both of which are performed under local anaesthetic with a much quicker return to normal activity than after surgery. The main drawback of the keyhole approaches is that some further treatment (usually a course of injections) is needed in up to half of patients, but if this is required it can be done as an outpatient appointment with minimal disruption to your daily routine. About three out of four patients are suitable for the newer forms of treatment. T
here are other approaches including injection treatment alone, (which is less likely to provide long-term treatment)) and support stockings. Stockings may help with the symptoms but in my experience most people who choose treatment prefer to have a better chance of a long term fix for the varicose veins. Useful information about varicose veins can be found at www.spireleeds.com/veins