Varicose Veins

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are bulging and unsightly blue veins that occur on the legs. They can occur at any age in both men and women, but most commonly in ladies after pregnancy. They are extremely common (approximately 30% of the population will suffer from them at some stage of their lives) and they can be painful as well as unsightly. A lot of patients experience aching and serious discomfort from their veins, especially at the end of a long day standing up. Left untreated they can progress to create venous ulcers on the legs, which are difficult to treat.

Varicose veins are caused by the failure of valves in the venous system of the leg. It is essential that patients undergoing treatment for varicose veins have an accurate venous duplex scan; not doing this can result in the wrong operation being performed and the veins recurring at an early stage. A painless and non-invasive ultrasound is used to detect varicose veins and gives us the information we need to decide how best to manage your condition.


What type of people get varicose veins?

Anyone! Generally speaking as we get older the veins become more prominent, partly because varicose veins get worse with time. They also tend to become more prominent in ladies after pregnancy. However, veins can trouble people in their twenties as well as the older generation. They are more visible in people with pale skin, although people with dark skin get varicose veins just as frequently – they just aren’t so obvious.


Standard procedure for removal of varicose veins

The standard operations for varicose veins involve making a cut in the leg over the point of main valve failure and stripping out the damaged segment of vein. This operation is called a ‘high tie and strip’. The vast majority of vein specialists don’t do this operation any more, but use one of the newer minimally invasive techniques which are less painful, and have a lower risk of developing more varicose veins.


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Instead of the old ‘high tie and strip’ method involving a lot of cuts in the leg; EVLT can be done entirely under local anaesthetic with one tiny surgical incision. The post-operative discomfort and bruising is less than with traditional surgery and patients return to work faster than after traditional surgery.

For that reason it has now become the treatment of choice for many leading specialist varicose vein surgeons and long-term follow-up data now shows EVLT also has less recurrence than the old style ‘high tie and strip’ surgery.


How is EVLT done?

  • The vein to be lasered is accessed through a tiny incision (2mm). The laser fibre is passed into the vein and positioned in the correct place with guidance from an ultrasound probe.
  • Local anaesthetic is injected around the vein before activation of the laser. When the laser is turned on, the fibre is slowly withdrawn down the leg.
  • As the fibre is withdrawn, the laser energy burns the inside of the vein, sealing it from the inside.
  • Varicose veins that are not lasered are then treated with ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy (injections)
  • An elastic stocking is then fitted and put on the treated legs before the patient goes home.

The operation can be carried out as a day case. Patients can walk around immediately after the operation. The whole procedure takes from about 45 minutes to one hour, per leg, to complete 


What are the advantages of EVLT as opposed
to conventional surgery?

  • No scarring
  • No cut in the groin
  • Less bruising
  • Faster recovery
  • Can be done under local anaesthetic
  • No overnight hospital stay needed
  • Less recurrence of varicose veins


Get treatment

For an initial consultation and advice, contact us now.