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Varicose vein surgery

What is a varicose vein?

Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins in your leg. You are more at risk of experiencing varicose veins if it runs in your family. They can be made worse by pregnancy and long periods of standing. Varicose veins tend to run in families and are made worse by pregnancy and if you do a lot of standing.  

Your legs have a system of veins which are deep within the muscles of your leg. They also have a system of superficial veins running just under your skin. When there’s a weakness in the walls of the superficial veins, they can become enlarged. This can cause pressure in the veins, which then bulge out as varicose veins. 

Varicose veins are sometimes painless. However, if the appearance of the vein bothers you, or you experience complications such as pain, swelling or ulcers, you should seek advice from your doctor. 

Ready to book now? Get in touch to discuss your needs and decide on the best course of treatment for you.

Ready to book now? Get in touch to discuss your needs and decide on the best course of treatment for you.

Types of varicose veins

There are different types of varicose veins:

  • Trunk varicose veins – near the surface of your skin and are thick and knobbly. You may find them unpleasant to look at 
  • Reticular varicose veins – red veins that may be grouped close together 
  • Telangiectasia varicose veins – otherwise known as thread veins or spider veins. These are small groups of blue or red veins that may appear on your face or legs. These veins are harmless and do not bulge underneath the surface of the skin. 

What to expect from varicose vein surgery

Varicose vein surgery is a way to permanently seal the affected vein. It is carried out by a vascular surgeon. Surgery should improve your symptoms and complications caused by the vein. It will also improve the way it looks.  

At Healthshare, our experienced vascular surgeons offer three different surgical treatment options with high success rates. 

Endothermal ablation 

Endothermal ablation is typically the first surgical treatment offered. It involves using energy from high-frequency radio waves (radiofrequency ablation) or lasers (endovenous laser treatment) to seal the affected vein. Multiple veins can be treated at once. 

Radiofrequency ablation 

This type of endothermal ablation involves heating the wall of your varicose vein with radiofrequency energy. The vein is accessed via a small cut and a narrow tube (catheter) is guided into the vein using an ultrasound scan. A probe is inserted into the catheter and this probe sends out radiofrequency energy. This energy heats the vein and seals it shut. After this, your blood will naturally be redirected to one of your healthy veins. 

This treatment may be carried out under local or general anaesthetic.  You may need to wear compression stockings for up to a week after having radiofrequency ablation. 

Endovenous laser treatment (EVLA) 

Much like radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser treatment uses a catheter inserted into your vein. A laser is passed through the catheter and delivers short bursts of energy to seal the vein closed.   This treatment may be carried out under local or general anaesthetic. 

Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy 

Endothermal ablation treatment may not be suitable for you. If that is the case, you’ll usually be offered a treatment called sclerotherapy. In this surgery, the surgeon will inject a foam into your veins which scars them and seals them closed. 

This type of treatment may not be suitable if you’ve had deep vein thrombosis.  Your surgeon will use ultrasound to guide the foam injection into the right place. It’s possible to treat more than one vein at the same time. 

This treatment is normally carried out under local anaesthetic.  After sclerotherapy, your varicose veins should begin to fade after a few weeks.  You may require treatment more than once to ensure that the vein fades fully, and there’s a chance the vein may reappear.  Although sclerotherapy has proven to be effective, it’s not yet known how effective foam sclerotherapy is in the long term. 

Traditional open surgery – stripping 

Your surgeon may advise you to have part of the operation using the traditional method. This involves removing the veins completely or ligation (tying them off). No single technique is suitable for all veins or both legs. Often, your surgeon will use a combination of techniques to achieve the best outcome for your specific leg and vein. 

Symptoms of varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen veins that usually occur on the legs and feet. They are normally blue or dark purple, and are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. 

Other symptoms include: 

  • A burning or throbbing sensation in the affected area 
  • Aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs 
  • Swollen feet and ankles 
  • Muscle cramp in your legs which is typically worse at night 
  • Dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein. 

Causes of varicose veins

There are certain factors that can increase your changes of experiencing varicose veins: 

  • Being female 
  • Having a family history of varicose veins 
  • Being older 
  • Being overweight 
  • A job that requiring long periods of standing 
  • Being pregnant. 

Preparing for your surgery

Your surgeon will give you simple preparation advice to help you get ready for your operation.  

You may be advised to stop taking medications a few days before surgery, particularly if you take aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs. If you have a history of bleeding disorders, let your surgeon know. 

You may have medicine to help you relax and you may have general anaesthetic. We recommend that you have someone to drive you home after the procedure. 

What are the alternatives to varicose vein surgery

Before surgery is considered, you will typically first be offered non-surgical treatments such as: 

  • No treatment but simply observing the veins for a period of time to see if symptoms worsen 
  • Using compression stockings to improve blood circulation 
  • Regular exercise 
  • Avoiding standing up for long periods 
  • Elevating the affected area when resting. 

Recovering from your surgery

You’ll be able to walk straight after your surgery and you may be able to go home within a few hours. For the first few days, you will likely need to wear bandages and compression stockings.  

You should resume normal activity as soon as possible, normally within two or three days. But, hot baths and strenuous activity, such as gym work outs, should be avoided for the first two weeks.  

Flying and excessively long journeys should be avoided for the first two to four weeks due to a slightly increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  

Your pain and discomfort should be minimal, though you may experience some tenderness, tightness or bruising. You can treat this with over-the-counter painkillers.  

Complications and side effects

Severe side effects of varicose vein surgery are rare. However, you should be aware that the following may occur: 

  • Infection 
  • Pain over the vein 
  • Bleeding 
  • Bruising 
  • Nerve damage 
  • Redness or swelling (inflammation) of the vein 
  • Blood clots 
  • Changes in skin colour over the treated vein 
  • burns.

You may have other risks, depending on your general health and the surgery you have. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns you have before your surgery.  

Ways to pay

Paying for yourself

Healthshare provides access to the highest quality care giving you the opportunity to access the very best treatment, facilities and consultants. Healthcare the way you want it, when you need it.

Spread the cost

A fixed term loan, provided by our partners Chrysalis Finance, will allow you to spread the cost of treatment and allow you to pay in monthly instalments over a time period to suit you.

Medical insurance

If you have private medical insurance you can get referred to a Healthshare Clinic for the very best treatment. Contact your insurance provider to pre-authorise your treatment today.

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