Background

Varicose Veins are a very common problem - half the adult population will have a sign of vein disease in their legs. The term ‘varicose’ is from the Greek word for ‘grape-like’.

Varicose veins are dilated, elongated, tortuous veins 3mm or greater in diameter. They lie just under the skin surface. As the veins grow, they become unsightly and can be associated with ‘heaviness’ and ‘aching’ and the leg affected can become swollen, often towards the end of the day or after long periods of sitting.

Varicose veins might be present in an individual but are only noticed incidentally, whereas in certain people they may cause significant symptoms.

 

What causes varicose veins?

No one really knows why certain people have a predisposition to varicose veins and others don’t. There are different theories as to what may cause varicose veins, the main one being genetic factors. Other causes could be the female gender, use of oral contraceptives, pregnancies, occupation – more prevalent in people who stand for long periods, obesity and deep vein thrombosis.  

Veins carry blood passively back to the heart and in the legs there are two systems of veins, the deep and superficial venous systems. The deep system carries most of the blood back to the heart, but if there is any backflow of blood from the deep into the superficial system, the superficial veins become pressurised. This pressure affects the valves and allows blood to pool in the veins causing them to become dilated and tortuous and these are the obvious unsightly varicose veins seen under the skin. Basically there is a complex anatomy of veins in the legs, but the two main superficial veins that are affected in varicose veins are the ‘great saphenous vein’ and the ‘small saphenous vein’.

 

Why treat varicose veins?

Left untreated, the presence of varicose veins can lead to skin changes such as ‘varicose eczema’, discolouration – often a brownish colour, and worst case scenario the skin can break down leading to ulceration.

Not all varicose veins need to be treated. There are conservative measures to try and stop them progressing, such as wearing compression stockings. However, there are several successful treatments available for varicose veins, such as laser and injection sclerotherapy that encompass minimally invasive approaches that avoid larger operations.

A duplex ultrasound, an ultrasound scan tailored specifically to visualize arteries and veins is the gold standard way of working out the pattern and extent of venous disease in the legs.

 

Treatments we offer

We offer the following vein treatments;

  • Endovenous laser / radiofrequency ablation
  • Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy
  • Traditional varicose vein surgery
  • Coiling of ovarian veins and internal iliac veins for pelvic varicose veins

 

Thread Veins and Spider Veins

Thread veins are often but not always associated with underlying venous disease.  Thread veins (also known as flare veins/spider veins/telangiectasia) are a cosmetic annoyance but can be easily treated in an outpatient setting with micro-sclerotherapy – please be in touch to find out more.