Varicose veins - are they more than just skin deep?
Varicose veins may look unsightly and make us feel self-conscious but do they always need to be treated? Cooden Medical Group’s vain expert, Dr Mo Faris, explains why varicose veins are not always just a cosmetic problem.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are bulging, dark coloured veins that usually appear on the legs. They can look like twisted blue or purple ropes just below the skin’s surface and many people feel self-conscious about having their legs on show.
What can I do about them?
Unfortunately, despite information to the contrary on the internet, there is no magic potion to fix varicose veins. Online searches may advise buying specially formulated creams or suggest home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, witch hazel and tomatoes. While these probably won’t do you any harm, they are unlikely to make much of a difference to your varicose veins.
Until relatively recently the most effective treatment involved a fairly major procedure carried out under general anaesthetic in hospital to “strip out” the problem veins. It could take several weeks to recover and patients often reported that the varicose veins came back.
Is surgery the only thing that works?
The good news is that in recent years, treatments for varicose veins have become much less invasive and are much more effective. At Cooden Veins we use a technique called ELVA which means that you can walk in, have your treatment and walk out shortly afterwards – you could theoretically have it done in your lunch hour! The procedure uses a laser to destroy the affected veins from the inside so that the surrounding tissues are not damaged. As the veins are completely destroyed, there is no chance of them reappearing.
Do I have to have my varicose veins treated?
Not all varicose veins need treatment although many people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Even if you are not concerned by their appearance it would be wise to have them checked out as varicose veins can be indicative of underlying venous disease. This can lead to symptoms such as:
- Aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Burning or throbbing in your legs
- Muscle cramp in your legs, particularly at night
- Dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein
If not treated correctly, troublesome varicose veins can get worse and can lead to more concerning problems such as blood clots, skin damage and leg ulceration. So although your varicose veins are probably only skin-deep do have this corroborated by a doctor, either by visiting your GP or going directly to a specialist vein clinic.