What are varicose veins and how do I get rid of them?

Varicose veins are abnormal or defective veins which are not functioning like a healthy vein. These veins appear as bulges above the skin surface usually blue or green in colour. They can range in thickness from two to over ten millimetres.

Standard sclerotherapy has been performed since the 1930’s for surface veins (see detailed notes under "standard sclerotherapy") it has been used since 1989 for the treatment of deeper veins or moderate varicose veins with a procedure called Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS). UGS is a method of treating deeper veins without surgery. UGS is suitable for those people who have never had their varicose veins treated and those people who have had a recurrence of their varicose veins after surgery.

Large varicose vein sufferers will benefit in more than one way from a revolutionary new varicose vein treatment known as Endovenous Laser Ablation (ELA). Previously, many people with varicose veins had to endure a painful and invasive procedure known as 'vein stripping'. When compared, the process of Endovenous Laser Ablation doesn't require hospitalisation, extensive amounts of recovery time or general anesthesia and generally takes only an hour. During the treatment the patients leg is numbed by using local anaesthetic before a needle is used to assist inserting a very fine laser fibre up through the problematic vein. There should be little to no discomfort while having the procedure performed, however following ELA patients may expect some mild pain for a few days following treatment. This pain simply means the treatment is takings effect on the varicosities and can be eased by taking short walks and the use of every day analgesics such as Ibuprofen and Paracetamol.

It is important to appreciate that varicose vein disease is a chronic condition that requires on-going maintenance and surveillance after the initial course of treatment gains control. Treatment at the earliest stage will help avoid the possible expensive and debilitating complications including leg ulcers, stasis dermatitis and thrombophlebitis. The success rate of the procedure compares most favourably to many published results of surgical treatment and does not require the time off work and pain associated with surgery (as well as usually being less expensive).

   Varicose Veins

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Dr Varcoe is an Accredited EVLA PractitionerAustralian and New Zealand Society of Phlebology
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