Varicose veins can cause great distress and discomfort, but as Silvie Adams, director of Spire Hospital Washington, explains, help is at hand for sufferers.
It’s great to move into a summer wardrobe as the weather gets warmer, but for those with varicose veins, the idea of putting on a dress, skirt or shorts holds much less appeal.
Unfortunately varicose veins don’t just look unpleasant, they also create significant discomfort for sufferers and really interfere with day-to-day life.
Here, one of our foremost vascular surgeons, Mr Cullen, explains about the condition and VNUS ClosureFastTM (also known as radiofrequency ablation) – one of the newer treatments offered here at Spire Washington Hospital. I’m glad to say it is much less invasive than surgery and greatly speeds the recovery process.
I’ll let Mr Cullen explain:
“Varicose veins are one of those things that most people will have heard of, especially as they run in families, but often they know very little about them. This is a common condition affecting up to three adults in ten (women more commonly) and patients generally fall into the 30 to 60 age bracket. Any vein can be affected but we see it the most in the legs.
“Essentially what happens is that the small valves that aid the blood flow within veins become either damaged or stop working. This creates a reflux (bounce back), causing blood to travel away from the heart rather than towards it.
The downward pressure of blood causes the veins to bulge and become varicose, which put simply means swollen, enlarged, tortuous and distended.
“Varicose veins are usually bluey-purpley in colour and lumpy so it can be easy to assume that sufferers want to have them treated purely for cosmetic reasons, but this is actually far from the truth.
“The patients we see complain of discomfort particularly when standing for long periods of time and also overnight (lying down seems to exacerbate rather than alleviate the problem) and the pain stops them doing things they would like to. Cramping and aching makes daily life miserable.
“By the time the patient comes to Spire Washington Hospital, it’s likely they will have been to see their GP and may have even worn support stockings for a period of time. These, however, only have limited success and don’t suit everyone because of the way they feel and look.
“During the first appointment a discussion will be had as to the person’s general symptoms and health. We examine the veins to understand where the problem is stemming from.
Clinical tests are carried out with a tourniquet and doppler and the patient has choice of whether the procedure will be carried out under local or general anaesthetic – the decision is based on the cause and complexity of the varicose veins.
“Whereas previously the patient would only have had the option of general surgery to remove the veins through a vein stripping procedure, as Silvie mentioned we now offer VNUS, a minimally invasive alternative that is carried out as a day case.
“With standard surgery, incisions are made in the skin to allow the insertion of a device to strip out the faulty vein. VNUS instead inserts a catheter that uses heat to close the damaged vein, at which point blood naturally reroutes to healthy ones. The whole procedure takes only 20-45 minutes and bruising and discomfort is much reduced – there is also less scarring.
“Afterwards the patient is discharged with a support stocking and asked to return for a follow-up appointment about ten days later. The recovery is so quick however, they are likely to have been back to work within the week, which would not be the case with surgery. You can see why VNUS is growing in popularity as the benefits are significantly greater.”
Mr Cullen is right to say that VNUS is becoming the preferred option and with the results it offers, it is easy to see why. If you would like to find out more, there is lots of information on our website and if you’d like to book in for the procedure, all you have to do is ask your GP for a referral.
Treatment is available via private medical insurance or fixed price options, so take a look. Just think – a summer of skirts and shorts could be all yours to enjoy.
For more information, tel: (0191) 418 8687 or visit www.spirehealthcare.com/washington