Dear doctor, I'm worried my varicose veins are getting worse. Can I get these treated?

19 December 2017

Q: I have had varicose veins on one of my legs ever since I was pregnant ten years ago, but lately they have got really itchy and sore. I'm worried they're getting worse. Can I get these treated?

A: Veins carry blood back towards the heart with valves to ensure the blood keeps flowing upwards. When varicose veins develop, some of these valves are not working properly, which allows blood to collect in the leg.

That results in high pressure in the veins, which causes the throbbing, itching and swelling associated with varicose veins.

Varicose veins can affect your life enormously, whether their appearance makes you less confident or they cause uncomfortable symptoms. They can even damage the skin, which may lead to inflammation and ulceration.

One method of managing varicose veins that works quite effectively is wearing compression stockings. These squeeze the veins and encourage a normal blood flow towards the heart. They can be uncomfortable though, and do not solve the underlying problem.

A more permanent solution would be to treat the varicose veins by sealing the defective veins and stopping the blood from flowing the wrong way.

There are many ways to do this depending on your particular situation, such as passing a laser fiber through the vein or injecting the vein with foam. These days there is no need for a full anaesthetic, and you will usually be in and out of the hospital within a day.

Once the defective veins are sealed off, your blood will drain better. That should both ease your symptoms and improve the look of your legs!

A vascular surgeon will be able to assess your symptoms and discuss treatment options with you.

Mr Simon Payne is a Consultant General and Vascular Surgeon practising at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.


The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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