With the weather improved and holiday season upon us, we start to notice the parts of our body usually hidden with clothing. Research has revealed that around 30% of the UK population will develop varicose veins in their lifetime. Unfortunately, varicose veins do not tend to get better without treatment, and usually get worse with time.
Vascular surgeon at Spire Hospital, Little Aston, Mr Harmeet Khaira answers some common questions about varicose veins.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are visible under the skin’s surface. They affect about a third of the population and men are affected as much as women. They are caused by blood flowing in the wrong direction in the superficial veins (normally blood flows from the feet towards the heart). If the valves in the veins stop working properly, blood will flow in wrong direction and put the vein under high pressure. Over time this pressure causes the vein to become dilated and more visible.
What changes can I make to my diet and lifestyle to reduce my risk of developing varicose veins?
None. No-one knows for sure why we get varicose veins but many associations have been made with pregnancy, being overweight, family history and standing occupations.
Are there any medicines that my doctor could prescribe to treat my varicose veins?
No, you cannot treat varicose veins with medicine.
If my doctor cannot prescribe medicine, how do I treat my varicose veins?
Each case if different, patients need to be assessed carefully with a scan and then the treatment options can be discussed.
There are 4 main treatment options:
1. Wear compression stockings to help control the symptoms of aching and pain
2. To remove the veins, we offer minimally invasive surgery using heat from inside the vein to destroy it combined with pulling out the visible veins through small cuts. This is performed under local anaesthetic.
3. Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy- Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy is a new non-surgical option for treating varicose veins. The procedure involves injecting foam into the affected veins. The aim is to inject and destroy the main surface vein which is feeding the varicose vein. This is performed under a local anaesthetic.
4. Standard varicose veins surgery under general anaestethic. A commonly performed technique, called ligation and stripping, involves tying off and removing the main vein affected in your leg.
What will happen if I don’t treat my varicose veins?
Over time your varicose veins will get worse and you will develop more veins. You may develop complications such as eczema, pigmentation and skin changes. A very small number of patients will progress to get leg ulcers.
To find out more about having varicose vein treatment at Spire Little Aston, hospital, please contact us on 0121 580 7119 or firstname.lastname@example.org