Understanding Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are when the veins, usually in our legs and feet, get big, twisty, and sometimes turn a blue or purple colour. They can hurt quite a bit. Think of them like knotted garden hoses. Many people – about 1 in 3 – will get these twisty veins at some point in their lives. Even though they’re pretty common, the NHS is now only treating the really severe ones. Because of this, many folks are choosing to get help from private doctors and clinics.
Now, it’s important to remember: our legs are at their best when our veins are healthy. So, when we treat people with varicose veins, we aim to fix the root of the problem and not just the pain or the way it looks. And here’s some good news! The way we treat these veins nowadays is pretty simple. There’s no need for heavy-duty surgeries or to be put fully to sleep with anaesthetic. Instead, our methods are gentle and straightforward. You can pop into the clinic, get the treatment, and leave in just a few hours. Best of all? There’s no need to take days off work afterwards!
Varicose Veins Treatment
Let’s talk about varicose veins, those twisty and enlarged veins that many people get in their legs. Over time, they can get worse both in how they look and feel. Sure, exercising regularly, eating healthily, and not smoking can help keep things under control, but these steps won’t completely solve the core issue. To really tackle the discomfort and appearance of varicose veins, you need to address what’s causing them in the first place. And the good news is that there’s a gentle procedure to do this!
How do we figure out the best treatment for you? Well, first, we use a scan, similar to the one used during pregnancy but for your legs. This scan, called a duplex ultrasound, helps us see if there’s a specific reason behind your varicose veins. Depending on what we find, we then suggest the best way to treat them.
If it turns out that you have clear-cut varicose veins, we typically suggest a treatment called endovenous laser ablation (or EVLA for short). This method helps sort out the main cause of the problem. After that, to clear up any visible veins, we might use another method called foam sclerotherapy.
Now, in some cases, we might just use foam sclerotherapy on its own, especially for smaller veins. But mostly, it comes after EVLA to deal with any leftover, tiny veins.
Going back in time, people used to have a surgery called ‘stripping’ to get rid of the problematic vein. It was quite a big deal, needing cuts, stitches, and being put fully to sleep. After the surgery, folks needed to take several weeks off work to recover. While many felt better after, sadly, a lot of them (about 7 out of 10) faced vein issues again later on.
Lastly, just a note on NHS treatments. They mainly help folks with very serious symptoms or sores on their legs. Even though the NHS does use the newer, gentler methods sometimes, they might offer just foam sclerotherapy or special bandages due to limited resources.
Treatment Type: Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)
Endovenous Laser Ablation, or EVLA for short, might sound fancy but let’s break it down. “Endovenous” basically means “inside the vein”, and “ablation” means “to get rid of”. So, EVLA is a method where we use a laser to sort out troubled veins from the inside.
Here’s how it works:
- Preparation: First, a local anaesthetic is used so you won’t feel any pain.
- Guidance: We then use an ultrasound scan, a bit like the one used during pregnancy, to see exactly where to place the laser.
- Zap!: Once the laser is in the right spot, it’s slowly moved along the faulty parts of the veins. As it moves, it heats up the vein, sealing it shut.
- Repeat: If there are multiple troubled veins, we do the same thing to each of them.
The entire process is quite quick. You’ll usually spend about 2 hours with us, and then you’re good to go!
Why do we like EVLA so much? Well, it’s considered the top treatment for varicose veins. Even the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – a big name in healthcare – recommends it as the best way to tackle varicose veins.
Treatment Type: Foam Sclerotherapy
So, you’ve heard of Foam Sclerotherapy and you’re wondering what it’s all about? Let’s break it down in an easy-to-understand way.
- What’s It For?: Foam Sclerotherapy is mainly used after an EVLA treatment to tackle those smaller, visible veins on the legs and make them look better. However, for people with tinier varicose veins, this treatment might be all they need.
- The Process: The good news is that it’s pretty quick and easy. You don’t have to stay overnight in a hospital. You come in, the treatment is done in about 30 to 45 minutes (depending on how many veins need sorting out), and then you’re on your way!
- How Does It Work?: So, this treatment uses a special medicine that damages the inside lining of the veins. This might sound a bit scary, but it’s all planned. When this lining is damaged, the veins close up and your body naturally gets rid of them. Think of it like your body tidying up.
- Is It Suitable for Bigger Veins?: Some doctors might use Foam Sclerotherapy on larger veins, but in our experience, it doesn’t work as well or last as long as EVLA does. So, we usually suggest it mainly for the smaller veins and not as the first choice for most people.
All in all, Foam Sclerotherapy is a nifty, straightforward way to help your legs look their best, especially after you’ve had an EVLA treatment.
Understanding Avulsions as a Varicose Vein Treatment
Also widely known as Phlebectomies, Avulsions serve as an effective method to eliminate noticeable varicose veins from the legs. This treatment stands as an alternative or complementary method to Foam Sclerotherapy, especially when used in conjunction with EVLA.
The Gentle Process of Avulsion Treatments
The Avulsion procedure embraces a minimally invasive approach. Imagine this: a miniature crochet hook is meticulously used to access the targeted veins. Through tiny incisions made on the skin, this crochet hook is delicately introduced to grasp onto the vein, ensuring it is securely held. This process allows the vein to be gently extracted, all whilst the patient remains comfortable under the effect of a local anaesthetic.
Post-Avulsion Care: Seamless Recovery
One of the significant advantages of Avulsions is the minimal aftermath care. The small incisions made during the procedure are so minute that they don’t require any traditional stitches. Instead, we employ steristrips, a form of adhesive strip, ensuring the skin heals smoothly and naturally. This technique offers a more cosmetic-friendly outcome, reducing the chances of noticeable scars.
Addressing the Root of Varicose Veins
It’s crucial to remember that while Avulsions are terrific for improving the cosmetic appearance of one’s legs by removing prominent veins, they don’t necessarily address the root causes of varicose vein issues. Thus, it’s often recommended in combination with other treatments that tackle the core problem.
Natural Ways to Manage Varicose Veins: The Facts and Fiction
Living with Varicose Veins: A Reality Check
Many individuals around the world grapple with varicose veins, and it’s no surprise that over time, the symptoms and visual appearance of these veins can become more pronounced. For many, the progression can be more than just a cosmetic concern; it can become a real hindrance in daily life.
Sifting Through Home Remedies
Given the widespread prevalence of varicose veins, there’s no shortage of home remedies touted to bring relief or even a ‘cure’. But it’s essential to approach these remedies with caution. While some might seem harmless, not all have been proven effective, and some might even come with unwanted side effects. A few commonly suggested home treatments include:
- Butcher’s broom: Also known by various other names like box holly or sweet broom, this remedy has been proposed by some.
- Witch hazel: A popular astringent which some believe can help.
- Gotu kola: Often suggested for various health benefits.
- Water therapy: Using water at varying temperatures to promote circulation.
- Dietary changes: Consuming flavonoids and sticking to a high-fibre diet has been recommended by some.
However, it’s vital to understand that while these remedies might offer temporary relief for some, they aren’t backed by solid scientific evidence. Moreover, there’s always a risk of allergies or other side effects.
Lifestyle Changes: Beneficial but Not a Complete Solution
Adopting a healthier lifestyle is always a good idea, and it can offer some relief to those with varicose veins. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and ditching unhealthy habits like smoking can help manage the symptoms to some extent. Yet, it’s crucial to note that these lifestyle modifications, while beneficial, won’t cure the malfunctioning valves in the affected veins.
Seeking Effective Relief
For lasting relief and addressing the root cause of varicose veins, it’s often necessary to consider medical treatments. Minimally invasive procedures have been proven to be effective. Additionally, wearing compression stockings can be a helpful way to alleviate some of the discomfort and swelling associated with varicose veins.
Step one - the vein consultation
At the initial consultation for leg vein removal, you will be seen by an expert vascular specialist with many years of experience in treating all types of varicose veins. The specialist will begin by carrying out a detailed clinical examination followed by a colour duplex ultrasound scan of both legs. This is a specialised type of ultrasound scan which focuses on the identification of the root cause of the abnormal veins by visualising any areas of abnormal valve function in the affected segment of the vein. Any other areas where blood seems to be stagnating will also be assessed on the ultrasound scan. The vascular specialist will want to learn about your ideas concerns and expectations for treatment and will take this information into account alongside the findings from your medical history and examination. The range of treatment choices available for varicose vein removal will then be discussed with you to allow the selection of the most appropriate vein removal technique.
RELATED: What are varicose veins?
Step two - effective vein treatments designed to treat the underlying cases
Varicose veins form when venous reflux develops in veins which have developed valve dysfunction. The damaged or weakened vein allows blood to flow in the reverse direction to the normal flow and pooling of blood then occurs in the diseased vein. Over time, the veins begin to increase in size and bulge outwards leading to them becoming highly visible through the skin. Endovenous laser ablation also known as EVLA, is the most commonly used varicose vein treatment to fix the faulty veins that are often found at a deeper location inside the leg. Foam sclerotherapy is used for the treatment of larger veins that may not be amenable to treatment with EVLA.
RELATED: The treatment of varicose veins
For patients who are concerned about the cosmetic appearance of thread veins which are smaller, more superficial veins that are located close to the skin surface, we offer two highly effective treatments including microsclerotherapy and laser thread vein removal. Your varicose vein specialist will be able to determine the most appropriate treatment for you after assessing the results of the colour duplex ultrasound scan of your legs.
Step three - follow-up treatment for full clearance
After successful treatment with EVLA or foam sclerotherapy, many patients will achieve significant clearance of unsightly looking veins. In many cases even after correct treatment of the underlying cause, there may be a number of smaller residual veins which tend to branch off from the vein that has been treated. These smaller veins can be easily treated at a follow-up appointment to reduce the visibility of these veins which commonly arise from the main vein that was previously treated with EVLA. The vast majority of patients will require step three for optimum clearance of their prominent leg veins. Your specialist will make use of sclerotherapy techniques which include both foam sclerotherapy and microsclerotherapy as follow-up treatments to address the residual veins. In some cases, patients who have residual veins that bulge outwards may be better served with a phlebectomy procedure. Step three of our treatment protocol can be successfully carried out in combination with endovenous laser ablation used during step 2 or it can be carried out approximately two months after EVLA treatment based on your individual preferences for treatment.
RELATED: Varicose veins recovery
Step 4 - touch up treatments for residual thread veins to achieve optimal cosmetic appearance
EVLA treatments for varicose veins have been hugely successful for patients who have had to endure symptoms from varicose veins for many years. Although most patients will have achieved outstanding results during steps two and three, a smaller number of patients will require touchup treatments to treat both thread veins and spider veins. The most commonly used treatments include microsclerotherapy and laser thread vein removal, which are both easily carried out by one of our experienced vascular nurses using state-of-the-art gold-standard technologies available at our Baker Street clinic in Marylebone, central London.
Varicose Vein Treatment Prices
At Centre for Surgery in London, we pride ourselves on offering the most competitive prices for varicose vein treatment. The total cost of your treatment includes both the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins whether EVLA or foam sclerotherapy is chosen for treatment.
We offer fixed prices and full details are available upfront before committing to any treatment. Varicose vein prices are based on treatment per leg and not per each individual vein treated which can significantly increase treatment costs unnecessarily for many patients. We do not do guide prices for any type of vein treatment and there are no hidden costs. Your vascular specialist’s fee and all clinic fees are included in the total cost of varicose vein treatment. We can also guarantee that prices will never change once you have attended the initial consultation. For patients who have private medical insurance, please get in touch with our patient coordinator team to learn about the options available to you.
How do I get rid of varicose veins?To get rid of varicose veins, you can consider several options:
Lifestyle changes: Exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, elevate your legs, and avoid standing for long periods.
Compression stockings: These can help improve blood flow and reduce pain and swelling.
Medical procedures: There are various minimally invasive treatments available, including Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), Foam Sclerotherapy, and Avulsions.
What's the treatment for varicose veins?Varicose veins can be treated using:
Lifestyle measures: Such as exercising and avoiding prolonged standing.
Compression stockings: To help with blood flow and reduce symptoms.
Minimally invasive treatments: EVLA, Foam Sclerotherapy, Radiofrequency ablation, and Avulsions.
If my vein is removed, how does blood flow back up to the heart?When a varicose vein is removed or closed off, blood is naturally rerouted to healthier veins. The circulatory system is adaptable and will find alternative pathways to ensure blood flows efficiently back to the heart.
Why is a duplex ultrasound scan required?A duplex ultrasound scan provides a visualisation of the blood flow in the veins and identifies any abnormalities. It's essential for determining the exact location of the problematic vein, the severity of the condition, and the best course of treatment.
What are the pros and cons of varicose vein treatment?Pros:
Alleviation of symptoms: Reduced pain, swelling, and itching.
Improved appearance: The unsightly bulging veins become less prominent.
Minimally invasive: Most treatments have a short recovery time.
Possible complications: Though rare, there can be infections, scarring, or deep vein thrombosis.
Recurrence: Varicose veins can come back even after treatment.
Is removing the vein the only treatment for extensive varicose veins?No, there are several treatments available, including closing off the vein using methods like EVLA or Radiofrequency ablation, or injecting a solution via Foam Sclerotherapy to cause the vein to collapse.
Can I exercise after varicose vein treatment?You can, but it's best to consult with your doctor about when and what type of exercises are suitable post-treatment. Generally, light activities like walking are encouraged shortly after treatment, while strenuous activities may be restricted for a few weeks.
When do varicose veins need treatment?Varicose veins require treatment if:
They cause pain or discomfort.
There are complications: Such as inflammation, blood clots, or skin ulcers.
For cosmetic reasons: Some individuals opt for treatment due to dissatisfaction with the appearance of the veins.
Always consult with a healthcare professional about any symptoms or concerns regarding varicose veins to determine the best course of action.