Worried about your Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are most commonly found on the legs and feet and consist of veins that have become swollen and enlarged. They often look bulging or twisted or lumpy and are either blue or dark purple in colour. You may also experience swollen feet and ankles, heavy and uncomfortable legs and also muscle cramp and a burning or throbbing sensation in your legs.
Varicose veins are rarely serious and can be left alone if they are not causing you any discomfort. But if they do, or if the skin over the veins becomes sore or irritated or if the skin is causing irritation at night and disrupting your sleep, then it’s time to visit your GP.
If it is determined that treatment is required, your GP may first advise you to use compression stockings that improve the circulation in your legs by squeezing them, to exercise regularly and to elevate the affected area, particularly during rest periods. If these are insufficient to ease your pain and discomfort, further courses of treatment may be recommended. The first of these is endothermal ablation. This involves using high-frequency radio waves, known as radiofrequency ablation, or lasers, known as endovenous laser treatment, to seal the afflicted veins.
If this is determined to be unsuitable, you may be offered sclerotherapy instead. Here, a special type of foam is injected into your veins and causes them to scar, thus sealing them closed. If you have previously suffered from deep vein thrombosis, this may be an especially appropriate treatment for you. The foam is guided into the veins via ultrasound and it is possible to have more than one vein treated simultaneously.
If neither of these treatments work, a surgical procedure known as ligation and stripping will be offered. This is to remove the affected veins entirely and is done under a general anaesthetic. Sometimes an overnight stay following the procedure is necessary, especially if the surgery is to be performed on both legs.
Finally, several new treatments may be offered. Transilluminated powered phlebectomy involves making one or two small incisions, using a light called an endoscopic transilluminator to identify the affected veins and removing them using suction. Cyanoacrylate glue occlusion consists of injecting a special glue into the affected veins to seal them shut. Although evidence suggests this treatment is effective, there are few surgeons trained to carry it out.
If your varicose veins are consistently causing you pain and discomfort, call your GP to discuss possible treatment options and determine which would be best for you.
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