What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are veins anywhere in the body, which have become, enlarged and swell. Sometimes developing a lumpy appearance, Varicose veins are a common condition affecting thirty percent of the UK population, with a greater number of women being affected. Varicose veins appear when valves in the veins stop working properly. If the valves stop working, or become damaged then blood can flow backward and collect in the leg causing it to swell. Varicose veins do not normally present health problems. However, some suffers find the swelling painful, and they can cause problems including skin discolouration of the skin or leg ulcers. Many suffers find the veins unsightly, and this can cause distress. The veins can occur but are significantly more common in the legs due to the pressure walking puts on leg veins.
Injection Treatments for Varicose Veins
There are several treatments for varicose veins. One of the most popular involves injecting chemicals into the vein in a process known as sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is most suited to people with small or medium sized varicose veins. In a treatment, a chemical is injected into the vein which causes the vein to scar inside and then close. For people with larger varicose veins, a procedure known as foam sclerotherapy will be more appropriate. In this procedure, a foam is injected into the vein. Both forms of sclerotherapy are performed under local anaesthetic and take less than an hour. The results take several weeks to appear as it takes time for the vein to close. Often more than one treatment is required, usually about a month apart. Sclerotherapy is generally considered a safe procedure; however, there are some risks and these include blood clots, fainting, and back pain. Sclerotherapy can be available on the NHS, and your GP will advise if it is available on the NHS for your case.
In the UK, there are many private clinics offering sclerotherapy treatment. Prices vary depending on the clinic, the size of the treatment area and how large the veins are. For one treatment in a small area costs are in the region of £150-£250. However, a course of treatments is often required, and clinics offer discounts on multiple treatments. For three treatments on a small area costs are typically £350-£500. To treat a medium sized area costs are typically £450-£650 for three treatments. Patients will be required to wear compression stockings after the treatment and these cost approximately £30.
In addition to sclerotherapy other varicose vein treatments are available. Treatments include surgery to remove the vein in a process called ligation and stripping. Endovenous laser treatment where the vein is destroyed by using a laser to heat and damage the wall of the vein. Radiofrequency ablation, which destroys the vein, using an electrical current. To try and prevent further varicose veins appearing, the following suggestions are made to patients. Avoid standing for long periods, take regular exercise, maintain an appropriate weight and wear compression stockings.