Our mum bloggers guide to what you need to know about Varicose Veins, what are they, who is at risk and how we can treat them safely.
Do you suffer from unsightly or painful varicose veins? Have you had just about enough of always having to cover up your legs? I feel your pain, having also suffered from them.
The hardest thing for me was the fact that I could never comfortably wear shorts, a skirt or dress without feeling self-conscious and don’t get me started on how I felt when wearing swimwear. After reaching my 40thbirthday I decided I would no longer put up with them and decided to do some research into what they are and how can we get rid of them… here’s what I found!
1.) What are varicose veins?
In a nutshell, varicose veins are enlarged, swollen veins that most commonly develop in the lower legs but can be seen elsewhere such as the thighs and groin area too. Varicose veins tend to be very painful, inflamed and for many, cause the need for constant itching.
It’s also not limited to women, it’s very common in men too. We can all develop varicose veins particularly as we age.
2.) What can cause varicose veins?
There are quite a few causes of varicose veins and naturally these will differ between individuals. They develop when the valves within our veins stop functioning properly. They become less elastic and this results in blood flow being restricted.
3.) Who is most at risk?
Both men and women are equally at risk, but more likely if you already have vascular problems, pain when walking or have chronic wound healing issues. Lifestyle choices also increase your risk too; If you smoke, become pregnant or gain excessive weight.
Other factors include natural ageing (varicose veins are more common in middle age), the menopause, changes in hormone levels and family medical history.
Occupation can also be a contributing factor – If you sit or stand for long periods of time. Many stories I read of varicose veins come from people who work in mobileor community roles and are on their feet all day, from teachers, hairdressers, flight attendants and the police.
4.) Should I worry about my varicose veins?
I was quite shocked to discover that if varicose veins are left untreated then they can worsen with time. Though most of us only worry about them in the Spring and Summer when it’s time for our holiday or the weekend BBQ.
Left untreated, a varicose vein can cause further complications or in some cases develop into a venous ulcer, which can take years to fully heal.
5.) What are the symptoms associated with varicose veins?
Now I did not experience all of these, but with some research, here is what signs to look out for…
- veins that are more visible at the surface of the skin
- throbbing and pulsating pains in the legs
- itchiness, swollen ankles, feet and legs
- bulging or enlarged veins in legs
- difficulty standing and sitting for extended periods of time
- pain in legs while exercising
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also highly recommend that anyone with symptoms of varicose veins should be offered treatment. Funding restrictions still exist though, unless there are skin complications as a result of varicose veins. These skin complications can include eczema, thickening of the skin, increased pigmentation and ulceration.
6.) How do I get a proper assessment for my varicose veins?
The best advice was to see a vascular specialist, such as a Consultant Vascular Surgeon. This is certainly a step in the right direction. From my research, the benefits of seeing a specialist were clear!
First, the Consultant is likely to diagnose the problem and find the source, having access to the right diagnostic tools to fully investigate. Secondly, there is the potential for less invasive treatments if identified early. It’s important to identify the source of the problem to allow treatment to be planned
7.) Can I use my insurance for this?
It’s hard to say for sure, anybody with health insurance needs to check their own policies as there are so many providers who offer different levels of cover. But it’s not impossible to have a policy that will cover a vascular consultation and treatment. It may be for vanity reasons why we worry about varicose veins, but it is a medical condition – so it’s not just a cosmetic treatment.
Going private also means you can self-pay too. Most private hospitals should provide a treatment price on a self-pay basis. Meaning no delays, no need for your GP to be involved, and fast access to get the peace of mind you want.
8.) What happens in a consultation?
If you do choose to see a specialist or surgeon privately, you will get quality time without feeling rushed. The Surgeon will give appropriate advice, with a choice of options based upon the best treatment outcomes. This will mean talking through your medical history and any current symptoms as well as examining the troublesome veins.
If treatment is needed, you may also be asked to take a vascular ultrasound scan. This is undertaken to determine the exact source of the varicose veins. An ultrasound scan is really one of the least scary scans you can have. I had no problems whatsoever and I knew I was in the best hands! At Pall Mall Cosmetics, this was done by a
9.) What are the treatment options for varicose veins?
So, I had something called sclerotherapy, this treatment is best suited for smaller varicose veins as well as spider or thread veins. The veins are closed using a chemical injection and this chemical causes scarring within the veins, which consequently leads to a reduction in blood flow and subsequently, the veins disappear entirely. As a result, the swelling and symptoms associated with the varicose veins are improved. There was no need for sedation, I was back home the same day!
If you have very large varicose veins, then vein stripping and ligation may be a more suitable treatment option for you. This is a surgical procedure, wherein a small incision is made to completely remove the veins from the affected area to fully resolve the problem. The recovery period is around 2-3 weeks so you will need to stack up the boxsets to watch post procedure.
Finally, you may be suitable for a key-hole procedure which is minimally invasive. This is performed to destroy large veins from the inside and known as Endovenous surgery. To destroy the veins, a heat source is used using a laser or radiofrequency ablation. The good news is that downtime is minimal, and you can often return to work the following day.
10.) Can varicose veins be prevented?
Sadly, there is no real research to suggest that we can pre-empt this condition. That being said, like many other medical conditions, maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle can help! By adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, this can help achieve better circulation in our legs. I know it is hard to stick to an exercise plan a few times a week but it’s definitely worth it (for my figure too).
You should start taking breaks during long periods of sitting down or standing, so every hour I try to have a little wander around the office just to get everything moving.
I have also purchased some compression stockings (the most un-sexy piece of clothing I have ever seen) but I try and wear these at night and during flights abroad or on holiday to help improve my circulation whilst still for long periods of time.
What can I do next?
So if you are desperate to get rid of your unsightly varicose veins or want advice about private varicose vein treatment,
Contact us today and book in a consultation and get ready to say goodbye to your varicose veins, you won’t regret it!
Pall Mall Cosmetics have convenient clinic locations in Liverpool City Centre and Manchester City Centre in addition to a purpose built hospital in Newton-le-Willows. In addition, all appointments do NOT require any NHS referrals and are fully private and confidential.
Complete peace of mind.
Pall Mall Cosmetics have care advisors who are happy to help with any varicose vein concerns. You can call them on 03300 58 44 55 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
COMING SOON – I’ll be talking about Boob-jobs in our 40’s and 50’s!