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Varicose veins and your treatment options

Are you suffering with varicose veins, and considering treatment? You may be wondering what varicose veins are exactly, how they develop, their causes, and importantly, how you can get rid of them. The award-winning cosmetic group, The Private Clinic, experts in varicose vein treatment, provide a useful insight into these areas.   

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are bulging, enlarged veins, typically dark purple or blue in colour. The condition commonly reveals itself on the leg surface, but can be present in other regions, including the ankle and foot.

Symptoms of varicose veins: The common condition may be diagnosed by its lumpy, twisted, or swollen appearance. However, other symptoms you may find include: heavy and restless legs, dry skin around the area, swollen feet and/or ankles, leg cramps, burning or throbbing in the legs and brown or purple areas of skin on the ankles and lower legs. Some may experience skin ulcers, although rare, or a red rash commonly over the ankles or lower leg (venous eczema). Symptoms do differ for everyone however.

Development: Veins convey blood to your heart, meaning your blood must flow upwards, against gravity. This is enabled by muscle contractions and a sequence of one-way valves.  If the valves become damaged, and weaken or break, they are unable to close sufficiently. This means the blood instead flows back to the legs, leading the veins to bulge, eventually generating varicose veins.

Risk factors causing varicose veins: Factors increasing susceptibility to varicose veins, include genetics, being female (vein walls can be more elastic), ageing (vein walls weaken over time) and being overweight (as a result of higher pressure on the veins).  You may be more susceptible if you have experienced a blood clot, often stand still (blood can pool in the veins, creating higher pressure), had a previous injury to your leg veins, or if you are pregnant (with higher hormone levels and more circulating blood).

Complications that cause varicose veins: Varicose veins unfortunately can worsen with time. Increased pressure in the veins can generate skin changes , often on the lower leg or the ankle. Some experience the skin turning brown or purple, or a rash could develop, known as varicose eczema. Rare, more problematic complications include venous ulcers (wounds can lead to ulcers), thrombophlebitis (red and painful superficial veins as a result of a blood clot within the vein), deep vein thrombosis (blood clots within the vein which can be painful and create swelling), and bleeding (when cutting or bump the leg). 

Varicose vein removal options

Luckily, there a range of safe, walk-in-walk out treatments that can help you to remove the troublesome veins, lasting under an hour and not requiring any general anaesthetic. 

Please find below a selection of minimally invasive treatments, each advised by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), eligible for different vein cases, and all on offer at The Private Clinic.

EVLA: The Gold Standard Treatment by NICE, EVLA is recommended for all eligible patients. The procedure involves locating the vein through ultrasound technology, followed by the use of laser heat to collapse the vein wall.

Sclerotherapy: Small varicose veins, unrelated to underlying venous reflux can be eligible for sclerotherapy, with liquid sclerotherapy representing the most appropriate technique. Larger veins can in some cases be resolved using foam sclerotherapy. However, this technique should only be considered if the patient is ineligible for EVLA. Sclerotherapy can additionally be used as an adjunctive treatment following EVLA. Regarding what happens in the Sclerotherapy procedure, a chemical is injected into the varicose vein affected, damaging it, and causing it to close off. The vein will then shrink over time and ultimately disappear.

Phlebectomy: Best for treating minor recurrence cases, removing any branch varicose veins that do not have association with underlying venous reflux, or following an EVLA treatment to achieve optimum cosmetic results. In a Phlebectomy treatment, the surgeon makes very small incisions and a hook is inserted, to remove the varicose vein. No stitches are required with incisions being so small, and recovery is quick.

VenaSeal: Often preferred by needle-phobic patients, this is a ‘lunchtime treatment’ meaning you can return to work immediately. The treatment does not require tumescent anaesthetic, or involve the risks connected with thermal injury to the tissues, and does not require wearing support tights after treatment. In the treatment, the leg is numbed and catheter inserted. The catheter is guided through the vein, using an ultrasound, and the catheter distributes the medical adhesive glue, which works to close off the vein.

Results with The Private Clinic. Image 1: Before and after EVLA and Phlebectomy Treatment, Image 2: Before and After EVLA

A closer look at EVLA

Standing for Endo Venous Laser Ablation, EVLA is any varicose vein removal treatment which uses laser heat to target and also break down veins. The treatment offers an extremely high success rate. NICE findings show that the procedures success rate after five years is in fact 95.4%.

To provide more detail about what happens in EVLA treatments, an ultrasound scan reveals the veins position, before local anaesthetic is applied. A fine catheter is inserted, through which laser energy is transported, sealing the damaged valve so blood is unable to flow through, and the walls of the vein collapse. The treatment stops the reflux taking place from the damaged valve, creating the varicose vein. It addresses the crux of the problem, rather than just the symptoms.

The Private Clinic

The Private Clinic are a centre of excellence for safe, minimally invasive varicose vein treatments. The leading cosmetic group present highly skilled Consultant Vascular Surgeons for all vein procedures, responsible for undertaking over 7,000 vein removal treatments to date, and representing pioneers in the Gold Standard Treatment, EVLA. Varicose vein removal consultations with their expert surgeons are available at The Private Varicose Vein Clinic in Harley Street LondonBirminghamBristolGlasgowLeedsNorthamptonManchester, WeybridgeBexhillBournemouth and Essex and can be booked by calling 0333 920 9135 or via their website.

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