Varicose vein treatment

We offer the latest techniques to treat varicose veins – swollen, twisted, purple or dark blue veins that are common on legs and feet.

Sometimes also called

  • Endothermal ablation
  • Ligation and stripping
  • Endovenous laser treatment
  • Radiofrequency ablation

At a glance

  • Typical hospital stay
    0-1 nights

  • Procedure duration
    45-90 minutes

  • Type of anaesthetic
    General, spinal, epidural, or local

  • Available to self-pay?

  • Covered by health insurance?

Why Spire?

  • Fast access to treatment when you need it
  • Consultants who are experts in their field
  • Clear, inclusive pricing
  • 98% of our patients are likely to recommend us to their family and friends

What is varicose vein treatment?

Treatment for varicose veins involves closing off and destroying or removing varicose veins – swollen, lumpy veins that develop due to weak valves in your blood vessels. They can be painful and lead to complications such as leg ulcers.

Your doctor may suggest varicose vein removal if your legs:

  • Ache or are painful
  • Develop leg ulcers
  • Have varicose eczema – dry, flaky, itchy and discoloured skin over your veins
  • Bleed easily when knocked
  • Are swollen

You may also want to have them treated because you don’t like how they look.

Treatment will close off your affected vein using surgery or alternative techniques. This will:

  • Relieve pain
  • Reduce risk of complications
  • Improve circulation

Your consultant will examine your veins and ask about your symptoms. They may also send you for an ultrasound scan to help locate damaged valves.

Before treatment, your doctor may recommend:

  • Wearing compression stockings to improve circulation
  • Avoiding standing for long periods
  • Exercise
  • Putting your feet up when resting

Find your nearest Spire hospital

Almost all of our hospitals offer varicose vein treatments. We have dedicated vascular consultants who specialise in these procedures and use many of the latest techniques and innovations.

Spire Nottingham Hospital

How varicose vein treatment works

The varicose vein is closed off and destroyed or removed, and your blood flow will naturally re-route through your deep, healthy veins. Treatment methods include:

Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA)

A laser will heat the walls of your vein, sealing it off so blood can’t flow along it. This destroys the vein and your body will absorb the dead tissue. You may be able to have this procedure in a treatment room rather than an operating theatre and it can be done under a local or general anaesthetic.

Your consultant will:

  • Carry out an ultrasound scan to use as a guide
  • Pass a catheter (thin, plastic tube) up your vein, with the help of a needle and wire
  • Pass a laser fibre up the catheter to the highest point of the vein to be heated
  • Pull the laser along the length of your vein, completely closing it
  • Remove the laser and catheter and put a dressing on the needle puncture

Venefit (VNUS Closure)

This procedure uses radiofrequency energy to heat the vein walls, sealing them and destroying the vein. The procedure is very similar to EVLA but uses radiofrequency energy instead of a laser.

Varicose vein surgery: Ligation and stripping

This is open surgery, which involves tying off the vein and then stripping it out.

Your surgeon will:

  • Make two incisions (cuts), one at the top of your groin, the other further down your leg
  • Tie up and seal the top of the vein near your groin
  • Pass a thin, flexible plastic wire into the top of your vein through the groin incision
  • Pull the wire out through the incision lower down your leg, stripping out the damaged vein at the same time
  • Stitch your wound

Your surgeon will explain the pros and cons of each method and which is best for you. This will depend on:

  • Vein size and shape
  • The extent and severity of your veins

Your operation: what to expect

How long does varicose vein treatment take?

It’s usually under an hour for keyhole procedures and between 60–90 minutes for open surgery.

Anaesthetic choices

Your consultant will advise on what’s best, based on your health and the surgical method used. It will either be:

  • A local anaesthetic, when you’re awake but you can’t feel anything in your leg (keyhole techniques)
  • A general anaesthetic, when you’re asleep

Pain after varicose vein treatment

There tends to be less pain with keyhole techniques than with open surgery but you’re still likely to feel some discomfort afterwards. Everyone experiences pain differently but you’ll be given painkillers to help you manage this.

Your hospital stay

You’ll usually go home on the same day or the following day.

Q & A

Gary Maytham, Consultant Vascular Surgeon

Talking about varicose veins

Your recovery: what to expect

We aim to get you back to everyday life as quickly as possible, although everyone’s different and your treatment and recovery will be personal to you

Your lifestyle after treatment

You’ll need to arrange for someone to take you home after your treatment and to stay with you for the first 24 hours. After your treatment, it’s normal to experience:

  • Tightness in your legs
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Bruising

You’ll need to wear compression stockings for around a week, regardless of which type of procedure you have.

You should be back to most normal activities, including work or driving, within a week if you had keyhole techniques.

For open surgery, recovery will take longer and you may want to arrange help with tasks such as shopping and cleaning.

Gentle walking is good for your legs but check with your consultant before doing vigorous exercise, driving or taking a long-haul flight. It’s also advisable to check with your motor insurance company before driving.

Risks and complications

Most people have varicose vein treatment without complications, but all surgery carries some risks. Your consultant will explain them to you before you go ahead.

Varicose vein treatment complications can include:

  • Burns to your skin (laser)
  • Sensitivity in your thigh (laser)
  • Short-term pins and needles (radiofrequency)
  • Blood clots in your veins (all methods)
  • Bleeding (surgery)
  • Nerve damage (surgery)
  • An allergic reaction to general anaesthetic

At Spire hospitals, your safety is our top priority. We have high standards of quality control, equipment and cleanliness and an ongoing system of review and training for our medical teams.

Treatment and recovery timeline

Here’s a typical recovery timeline for varicose vein surgery:

View interactive timeline View full timeline

0-1 days

Leave hospital

1 week

Stop wearing compression stockings; back to most normal activities for keyhole techniques

2-4 weeks

Aching should stop

4 weeks

Full recovery for open surgery

  • 0-1 days

    Leave hospital

  • 1 week

    Stop wearing compression stockings; back to most normal activities for keyhole techniques

  • 2-4 weeks

    Aching should stop

  • 4 weeks

    Full recovery for open surgery

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.

Get in touch


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