We discuss all you need to know about varicose veins, including varicose vein symptoms, how varicose veins develop, and why you may have them in the first place. This blog post also has you covered on how you can remove them – we lay out your varicose vein procedure options, with a particular focus on Endovenous laser treatment or EVLA (the Gold Standard treatment for removing varicose veins).
- About Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are lumpy, bulging veins usually purple or blue in colour and commonly found on the leg surface, but can also be found on other regions such as the foot or around the ankle.
Symptoms: Varicose veins can often be diagnosed by their swollen, enlarged or twisted appearance, but other varicose vein symptoms may include the following. (Please note that symptoms experienced differ for everyone).
- Swollen ankles and/or feet
- Restless, heavy, aching legs
- Dry skin around the affected vein
- Leg cramps
- Throbbing or burning sensation within the legs
- Brown or purplish skin patches on your lower legs and ankles
- Skin ulcers (uncommon)
- A red rash usually over lower leg or ankles (venous eczema)
Development: Varicose veins occur when blood fails to flow properly through your leg veins, and this is how it works… Your veins take blood to your heart, requiring the blood to flow in an upwards direction (against gravity). This is facilitated by one-way valves and muscle contractions. If these valves weaken or break, however, they cannot properly close. Your blood then flows back to your legs, where, the veins begin to bulge, causing varicose veins. Serving no purpose, these damaged veins are perfectly safe to remove.
Cause: It’s not clear why some people develop varicose veins while others do not. But we do know that the following create higher risk of developing varicose veins: genetics, being overweight (due to increased pressure on your veins), being female (female hormones make vein walls more elastic), and ageing (vein walls weaken with age).
Varicose veins can additionally be secondary to other circumstances or issues. You could be more at risk if you have previously injured your leg veins, had a blood clot, are pregnant (with increased hormone levels and more blood circulating), or stand for a long time in one position (blood can pool in the leg veins, increasing pressure in the veins).
Complications: Varicose veins can worsen gradually. Some with the condition for some time develop skin changes, usually in the ankle or lower leg, due to increased pressure within the veins. Skin could become purple or brown and could develop a rash called varicose eczema. More serious but uncommon complications include deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the vein that can cause pain and swelling), venous ulcers (any cuts or wounds could form an ulcer), bleeding (if you bump or cut your leg) and thrombophlebitis (red, painful superficial veins due to a blood clot in the vein).
- Varicose Vein Treatment Options
The good news is there are a range of minimally-invasive, walk-in-walk-out safe procedures available to remove your varicose veins, not requiring general anaesthetic, and all taking under an hour to complete. In fact, at The Private Clinic, we are able to offer non-surgical treatments for varicose vein removal, to 99% of patients that visit us.
Below we’ve outlined a range of minimally invasive vein removal treatments, each recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) for different eligibilities, and all available at The Private Clinic:
How it works:
|EVLA||-The *Gold Standard* varicose vein treatment by NICE, EVLA is the recommended treatment for all suitable patients.||– The affected vein is located using ultrasound technology. Laser heat is then used for collapsing the vein wall, and eliminating the cause of the problem.|
|Sclerotherapy||-Usually used to treat thread veins (although unsuitable for patients allergic to sclerosants and for very fine spider veins). However, small varicose veins not associated with underlying venous reflux are also suitable for sclerotherapy, with liquid sclerotherapy being the most appropriate technique. Larger veins may also be treated with sclerotherapy, with foam sclerotherapy being most suitable. Although, sclerotherapy should only be used if the patient is unsuitable for EVLA treatment.
-Sclerotherapy either liquid or foam, can also be adjunctive treatments after EVLA treatment.
|-A chemical is injected into the affected vein, damaging it and resulting in it closing off. The varicose vein progressively shrinks, and disappears.
|Phlebectomy||-This method is best for removing branch varicose veins not associated with underlying venous reflux, or after EVLA treatment in order to achieve the best cosmetic results, or in minor recurrence cases.
|-Your surgeon makes tiny punctures or incisions. A hook is inserted into the incision, hooking onto part of the vein, and then vein is then removed. Incisions are so small that stitches are not required, and recovery is quick.|
|VenaSeal||– The method of choice for needle-phobic patients, the procedure is a ‘lunchtime treatment’ allowing immediate return to work. Treats varicose veins without the need for tumescent anaesthetic and without the risks associated with thermal injury to tissues. There is also no need to wear support tights for a period of time post treatment.||-The leg is numbed and a small catheter is inserted. An ultrasound then guides the catheter through the vein, and the catheter subsequently dispenses small amounts of the medical adhesive glue, which closes off the varicose vein.|
- EVLA Gold Standard Treatment uncovered
EVLA stands for EndoVenous Laser Ablation, and is any varicose vein removal procedure using laser heat to target, and break down veins. As we referred to, EVLA is considered by NICE to be the best treatment for varicose vein removal. We also always typically favour EVLA also its higher success rate. NICE findings actually show that EVLA’s success rate five years post procedure is 95.4%.
To give more detail on what happens in EVLA , an ultrasound scan marks the veins position prior to the injection of local anaesthetic around the area. A fine catheter is inserted via a small incision, typically close to the knee. Laser energy is transported via the catheter, in short pulses, closing up the damaged valve so blood is unable to flow through and the vein walls collapse. The procedure stops the reflux occurring from the damaged valve, producing the varicose vein, addressing the route of the problem, instead of only the symptoms.
We’re proud to offer Consultant Vascular Surgeons who are pioneers in the Gold Standard EVLA treatment and have treated the veins of thousands of patients.
- Why Choose The Private Clinic?
We’re one of the UK’s clinics of excellence, for non-surgical minimally invasive vein treatments. Offering highly skilled extensively experienced Consultant Vascular Surgeons for varicose vein removal, who have undertaken more than 7,000 vein procedures to date, you can have peace of mind regarding your safety and results.See our varicose vein webpage for more information, including answers to varicose vein FAQs, further varicose vein before and after photos and more information about ourvaricose vein treatments.
“… I couldn’t have wish for better. I was made to feel at ease, safe and was confident that after the consultation I would be pain free. I have a terrible phobia of needles so the non invasive procedure was prefect. Honestly fantastic from start to finish.” Justin
“EVLA and Ambulatory Phlebectomy for Varicose Veins Excellent service and customer care from Mr Rittoo, Stefanie and all the team at The Private Clinic, Glasgow. I’m delighted with the results. A quick, efficient and pain free treatment. Wish I had done it sooner as I can now show off my legs after years of hiding them.” Joanne
Varicose vein consultations with our expert Consultant Vascular Surgeons can be booked by calling 0333 920 2471 or via our website. Consultations involve a free ultrasound scan of your legs (typically costing between £350 and £450 at the majority of clinics and private hospitals).
Varicose vein removal consultations and procedures are available in our clinics in Harley Street London, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Northampton, Manchester, Glasgow, Weybridge, Bexhill, Bournemouth and Essex.