Varicose Veins

Treatment for varicose veins, conventional surgery, sclerotherapy & Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)

What are varicose veins?

Veins are the blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Varicose veins are abnormally enlarged and tortuous veins that are visible just below the surface of the skin. Smaller veins in the skin itself are sometimes called "thread veins" or "spider veins". Although these may be unsightly they are not the same as varicose veins and rarely cause discomfort or complications. It is possible to treat these successfully.

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins are due to weakness in the wall of superficial veins leading to stretching. This causes failure of the one-way valves inside the veins. These valves normally only allow the blood to flow up the leg towards the heart. If the valves leak, then blood can flow back the wrong way on standing. This reverse flow causes increased pressure on the veins, which swell and become varicose. They may also be caused by standing occupations or weight gain which increase pressure on the leg veins. They often appear around the time of a pregnancy and whilst they may become less prominent in the weeks after delivery, they tend not to disappear completely. Varicose veins often run in families (the precise form of inheritance is not well understood) and as you get older they are more likely to occur.

How common are varicose veins?

Approximately half the population has some form of venous disease, and varicose veins affect up to 30% of all adults. Men and women get varicose veins, probably in equal numbers.

What problems do varicose veins cause?

The raised pressure in the vein system caused by the leaky valves frequently gives rise to aching, throbbing, itching and a feeling of fullness. Phlebitis and bleeding from the veins can occur if they are traumatised. The increased pressure can sometimes cause complications such as eczema, brown discolouration, skin thickening and leg ulceration.

What can be done about my varicose veins?

Several different treatments are available for varicose veins. No two patients' varicose veins are quite the same and whilst one form of treatment may be right for one patient, a different technique may be better suited for others.

What treatments are available for my varicose veins?

The Hampshire Vein Clinic surgeons offer endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), radiofrequency ablation (VNUS Closure), conventional surgery, foam and conventional sclerotherapy.

Can varicose veins come back again after treatment?

Yes, they can - for a variety of reasons. Inadequate initial assessment and failure to perform a duplex ultrasound vein scan can lead to inappropriate treatment planning. Inadequate technique can also result in suboptimal results. Some people have a tendency to form new varicose veins. With the best planning and treatment the risk of recurrence is roughly 10 - 15% five to ten years after treatment. Recurrent varicose veins are frequently less troublesome than the original problem and often respond well to more minor forms of treatment.