Is it vain to treat varicose veins?
Varicose veins may look unsightly, but do they always need to be treated? Mr Bjorn Telgenkamp, a consultant vascular surgeon at Cooden Medical Group, explains why varicose veins can sometimes be more than simply 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.
Do I have to have my varicose veins treated?
Even if you are not concerned by their appearance it would be wise to have your varicose veins checked out as they could be indicative of underlying venous disease. Problem veins can cause 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
- Leg ulcers
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.
Is surgery the only treatment option?
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.
The good news is that in recent years, treatments for varicose veins have become much less invasive and are more effective.
What are the alternatives?
At Cooden Medical Group we use a technique called EVLA which means you can walk in, have your treatment and walk out shortly afterwards. The procedure uses a laser to destroy the affected veins from the inside so that the surrounding tissues are not damaged and you are not left with scars.