What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins that have become dilated, bulging and twisted. Veins contain valves which allow the vessels to carry most of the blood from your extremities back to the heart. These valves allow the blood to only flow in one direction. If the veins become widened and varicose, these valves no longer perform their function correctly, causing the blood to flow backwards down the veins. This causes downward pressure when standing, walking around or sitting. Lying down and raising the legs usually makes the legs feel better.
The main medical reason for treatment is skin damage and ulceration. Only a small percentage of people will have this problem. If your legs ache and are painful, it might be worthwhile to have the varicose veins treated. Specialists use Doppler ultrasound machines to examine blood flow in the veins in order to determine if treatment is needed. There are three main methods of treatment:
• Support hosiery
These are support stockings or tights issued according to your leg measurements. There are various colours and classes of compression. Consult with your doctor to discuss the different options.
• Laser ablation of reticular and spider veins (small, fine veins)
This is an outpatient procedure. A fine laser fibre is inserted into the vein to ablate the inner cavity or lumen. It works best for varicose veins which are not under pressure from leaky valves higher up. This
procedure is typically used for varicose veins that are not medically harmful. The doctor will advise you if you qualify for this treatment.
You will either be treated as a day-patient or as an in-patient, depending on whether you are medically fit and have somebody at home with you. The operation is done while you are asleep. The surgeon will make a cut over the top of the varicose vein and tie it off where it joins the rest of the venous system in the groin. The cut is closed with stitches under the skin. The main vein is removed by “stripping” it (passing a wire through the vein all the way from thegroin to an area around the knee). It helps to guard against varicose veins forming again. The blood will flow up collateral veins after this main vein is removed. Varicose veins marked before the operation will now be removed through tiny cuts in the skin. These cuts can be closed with adhesive strips.
• Endovenous laser
You will be treated as a day patient and will be able to mobilize very quickly after the procedure. There will be no cut in your groin. The laser fibre is inserted through a sheath, via a needle puncture into the faulty vein. As the thermal laser energy is applied to the vein, it retracts and closes.