Varicose Vein Information

Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins that most frequently occur in the legs.  They can be seen as raised blue or purple lumps underneath the skin, and some cases (though not all) will require treatment.  This is especially likely if you are at risk of complications or they are painful.  There are several treatment options available.

1.  Endothermal ablation. 

This is usually the first treatment to be offered, and involves the use of either lasers or high frequency radio waves.  This supplies energy that seals the vein and prevents any more blood from flowing along it.  The blood will be redirected to a healthy vein instead.  Both forms of endothermal ablation involve having a narrow catheter inserted into the vein, which will be done under local anaesthetic.  There are likely to be some bruises, pins and needles (known medically as paraesthesia) and temporary numbness after the treatment.  You may be asked to wear compression stockings for a few days.

2.  Sclerotherapy. 

This procedure involves a foam being injected into the vein to seal it.  Again, local anaesthetic will be used.  The varicose vein will gradually fade, taking a few weeks to disappear as the vein seals and the blood begins to flow through other vessels.  Repeat treatments are sometimes necessary.  Side effects are also possible, including blood clots, changes in the skin colour, and fainting.

3.  Surgery. 

This is only offered in the most severe cases, and needs to be carried out under general anaesthetic. The affected vein will be tied off at each end and then removed, in a process that is known as ligation and stripping.  Compression stockings will need to be worn to help maintain blood flow in the legs, and you may need up to three weeks off work.  Pain, bleeding and bruising are common side effects.

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