What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen veins that you can see through your skin. They occur most commonly on the legs, and are more common in women. They often appear darkish blue, lumpy, rope like or twisted.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Symptoms can include:
- Aching, tired legs. Standing too long can worsen the symptoms
- Restless legs
- Skin rashes and itching
- Night cramps
- Feeling of heat or burning on the legs
- Brownish “stains” on the skin surface
- Skin or leg ulcers
- Blood clots
Complications of Varicose Veins
While not life threatening, overly enlarged varicose veins can rupture and cause bleeding. They can also cause leg ulcers.
Causes of Varicose Veins
The veins in our legs carry blood up our legs and back to the heart. Our veins contain a number of one-way valves to help the blood flow “uphill” against gravity. If the valves don’t close properly, blood pools in the veins closest to our skin. Over time, the affected veins become varicose or distended with blood.
Risk factors for Varicose Veins include:
- Puberty, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & Menopause
- Family history of Varicose Veins
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time
- Lack of exercise
- Being immobile for long periods of time (e.g.: confined to bed)
- High heels
Varicose Vein Treatment
Treatment options depend on the severity of the disease.
In mild cases, support stockings can help reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and reduce the chance of complications. Other treatments such as injection sclerotherapy may also be suitable.
If you have complications from your Varicose Veins, find the symptoms extreme or you are looking for cosmetic improvement, then we will generally recommend surgery.
Within this practice, depending on your symptoms and a range of other factors, you will undergo either:
- Varicose Veins Surgery
- Endovenous Ablation (EVA)
Varicose Vein Surgery is where the superficial veins are disconnected from your deep veins through a cut in your groin or back of your knee. A number of smaller cuts called avulsions or phlebectomies are then made along the length of your varicose vein, before the main vein is “stripped out”.
Endovenous Ablation (EVA) can be of two types – Laser Ablation or Radio-Frequency Ablation. These are endovascular procedures where catheters are threaded up through your arteries. It is commonly called keyhole surgery as only small incisions are needed. Both forms of ablation cause the walls of the vein to close and seal, but one uses laser fibres and the other uses radio-frequency energy.
Not all patients are suitable candidates for endovascular surgery, and Dr Williams will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your different options with you during your appointment.
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