Varicose Veins Treatment
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged and swollen veins which often appear blue or purple. A superficial vein may become varicose when the vein valves become incompetent and allow blood to pool. This commonly occurs in the veins in the legs. Often, a mild variation of varicose veins is of a cosmetic concern, but in other cases, varicose veins may cause aching, pain and discomfort.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Signs and symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Veins that look twisted, swollen, and lumpy (bulging)
- Blue or dark purple veins
- Pain in the legs
- Legs may feel heavy, especially after exercising or at night
- An injury to the affected area may lead to prolonged bleeding.
- Fat under the skin above the ankle may become hard, resulting in the skin shrinking
- Swollen ankles
- Spider veins in the affected leg
- Shiny skin discolouration near the varicose veins, which is normally brownish or blue in colour
- Leg cramps when standing up
- Vein ulcers
What does varicose veins treatment involve?
If varicose veins do not cause any discomfort, treatment may not be necessary. However, if there are symptoms of discomfort, varicose vein treatment may be required to reduce pain and address complications such as leg ulcers, skin discolouration, or swelling. The following is recommended:
- Compression stockings These may be worn to steadily squeeze the legs, helping to improve blood flow in the veins. They improve symptoms but do not remove the veins.
- Sclerotherapy This procedure involves injecting small and medium-sized varicose veins with a solution, which then causes inflammation inside and closes those veins.
- Foam sclerotherapy and Glue injections This involves a foam solution being injected into a varicose vein to help close and seal it. Glue injections can close large veins with minimal discomfort.
- Laser treatment This treatment uses strong bursts of light directed onto the vein to close off the varicose vein. This will make the veins slowly fade and disappear.
- Catheter-assisted procedures using radiofrequency or laser energy This procedure involves the insertion of a thin tube, called a catheter, into the enlarged varicose vein. A local anaesthetic is then injected around the vein, which reduces the discomfort and protects the skin and nerves. The tip of the catheter is then heated using either radiofrequency or laser energy. As the catheter is removed, the heat destroys the vein and seals it. The procedure may be performed in the rooms or the hospital, depending on the patient's preference.
- High ligation and vein stripping This procedure involves the vascular surgeon tying off the varicose vein before the superficial vein joins the deep vein and then removing it through small incisions. Removing the varicose vein will not affect blood circulation in the leg because the deeper veins in the leg take care of larger volumes of blood.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy This involves the removing of smaller varicose veins through tiny skin punctures.