Varicose veins

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Varicose Veins, Overview, General Information

Varicose veins affect approximately 25% of western adult population. The treatment of varicose veins and their complications accounts for 2% of the NHS expenditure until recently but in the recent years many NHS Trusts only treated some cases. The traditional procedure for treatment of varicose veins is open surgery. There were over 40,000 varicose vein procedures performed in the UK in 2001 (up to 20% are re-operations) to a cost of £20-25 M, excluding non-hospital costs. The latter include expenditure on community nursing and loss of time from work. A potential benefit of the newer minimally invasive techniques is reduction in both direct (hospital related) and indirect (non-hospital related) costs as well as reported recurrence rates of varicose veins.


  • What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

    • Most cases of varicose veins are asymptomatic.
    • The most common symptoms of varicose veins are aching sensation or tiredness in legs. Symptoms are especially in the calf towards the end of the day.
    • Sharp and localized pain at the site of the varices might be noticeable if the varicose veins are grossly dilated.
    • The ankles may swell towards the evening and the skin of the leg may itch or gradually discolour over a period of time.
    • Some patients may suffer cramps in the calf shortly after retiring to bed.
    • Other symptoms such as heaviness and fatigue and swollen limbs might occur as a consequence of varicose veins.
    • Symptoms of varicose veins can worsen over time if left untreated.
  • What are the complications of varicose veins?

    • Bleeding may occur from the varicose veins following relatively minor trauma.
    • Thrombophlebitis of the superficial varicose veins. This refers to thrombosis (blocked vein) associated with surrounding inflammatory reaction causing redness and tenderness of the tissues around the varicose veins. It is not an infection – merely the body’s reaction to blood clot within a vein.
    • Eczema or chronic dermatitis (inflammation of skin)with allergic manifestation itching and redness.
    • Varicose vein ulcers might occur around the ankle area which might prove difficult to treat.
    • There are other rare complications of varicose veins.
  • What options are available for treatment of varicose veins?

    Broadly speaking, varicose veins can be treated in two main ways:
    • Conservative treatment of varicose veins.
    • Surgical management of varicose veins
      a) Traditional open surgery
      b) Minimally invasive surgery (Laser EVLT or Radiofrequency VNUS or foam sclerotherapy techniques)

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