The most effective treatment for many varicose veins is to have them surgically removed. Varicose veins are usually removed under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the procedure.
Varicose vein surgery is routinely done as a day-case. However, you may need to stay in hospital overnight, particularly if you are having operations on both legs.
The exact method used to remove varicose veins can vary. A commonly performed technique, called ligation and stripping, involves tying off and removing the main vein affected in your leg.
Your legs will then be tightly bandaged. After surgery, blood can still flow up your legs because the deeper network of veins is left untouched.
The procedure usually takes one to two hours, depending on the exact type of operation you are having and whether one or both legs are being treated.
After varicose vein surgery, your legs will be sore and bruised and the wounds may bleed a little. These side-effects should settle within a week or two. Scarring will usually fade with time, but won’t disappear completely.
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 usually either the long saphenous vein on the inside of your thigh or the short saphenous vein on the back of your calf.
Your consultant will use ultrasound imaging to check that all the veins have been filled with foam. After the treatment, your leg will be bandaged and fitted into an elasticated compression stocking.
Usually only one leg is treated per appointment and you may require more than one treatment. Foam sclerotherapy is performed as an out-patient procedure under a local anaesthetic.
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT™) is another non-surgical option for treating varicose veins. It involves passing a probe into a vein to heat it up and seal it from within.
It can usually be performed under local anaesthetic and takes between 30-45 minutes per leg. It is performed as an out-patient or day-case procedure, with no overnight stay in hospital. 60 to 70 percent of patients who have not had previous varicose vein surgery are suitable for EVLT™. After a previous varicose vein operation, EVLT™ is possible in 20 to 30 percent of cases.