It’s great to move into a summer wardrobe as the weather gets warmer but for those with varicose veins, the idea of putting on a dress, skirt or shorts holds much less appeal. Here, consultant vascular surgeon Mr Philip Davey talks us through the options for those suffering from varicose veins.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, I obtained my medical degree in Scotland before returning home to north-east England to undertake my specialist vascular training. I was appointed a consultant vascular and endovascular surgeon in 2010 and am currently based at the University Hospital of North Durham, where I was promoted to lead clinician for vascular services in 2014.
I have a specific interest in the modern, minimally-invasive treatment of all vein disease including varicose veins and have extensive experience in vascular procedures, routinely training other surgeons in this technique.
I hold out-patient clinics every Friday afternoon at Spire Washington Hospital and have a regular theatre list on Tuesdays.
When do people come to see you regarding varicose vein surgery?
There are a variety of reasons that people suffering from varicose veins come to see me in clinic. Usually varicose veins are bluey-purpley in colour and lumpy so for some patients who don’t suffer any symptoms their main concern is regarding their appearance. However many people with varicose veins also suffer from a wide range of symptoms including pain, aching, itching, swelling, bleeding, inflammation and skin problems. Patients can have difficulty standing for long periods of time and suffer from aches and pains that can prevent them doing everyday activities.
When a patient books an initial consultation with me, whether they are self-pay or insured, I like to offer a ‘one-stop shop’ service. This involves going through a full medical history and clinical examination with the patient as well as performing a detailed ultrasound scan to both assess the underlying source of the varicose veins and to guide treatment options. Using this approach saves time and needless additional hospital visits enabling a clear treatment plan to be considered by the end of the initial appointment.
What does treatment entail?
In the vast majority of cases, contemporary minimally-invasive, ultrasound-guided techniques (eg, VenefitTM) will indeed be appropriate instead of traditional surgery methods. These types of procedures can frequently be performed under local anaesthetic on a ‘walk-in, walk-out’ basis. If a general anaesthetic is required (or preferred by the patient), cases are typically done as a day case and do not usually require an overnight stay.
Following treatment, patients will normally be expected to wear a compression stocking for two to three weeks. In many cases (particularly those undergoing local anaesthetic), patients can often return to work within one to two days with minimal limitations on their everyday activity.
What are the benefits of someone coming to see you at Spire Washington Hospital?
The main benefit of coming to the Spire Washington Hospital, along with its convenience and quality of service, is the guarantee of consultant-delivered care. With recent changes in the national treatment guidelines, NHS varicose vein treatment has rapidly become over-subscribed and is typically associated with a protracted pathway and long waiting list. These issues are not a consideration at the Spire Washington Hospital.
What questions should you always ask your consultant before varicose vein surgery?
Contemporary varicose vein treatment expertise and experience can now only be offered by those consultants who are specialised vascular surgeons with an appropriately high volume of varicose vein interventions. Ask if your consultant is a current member of the UK Vascular Society and always challenge those who may suggest that traditional open surgery is your only option.