Varicose veins are swollen tributaries of the superficial veins in the legs. These ‘branches’ become distended if the valves in the main veins are not working properly, causing the blood to fall back down the leg rather than pumping it back to the heart. In the past varicose veins were considered a cosmetic issue and therefore left untreated. However, through medical research, we now know that they are a clear sign of venous disease which can, if left untreated, lead to other complications such as venous eczema, leg ulcers, heaviness in the legs and oedema (swollen legs).
It is a popular belief that men do not get varicose veins. This is untrue. Just as many men have varicose veins as women, it’s just that women are more likely to seek treatment. Pregnancy and being overweight can make varicose veins worse, although it doesn’t cause them. Varicose veins run in families and if a relative has varicose veins this dramatically increases your chance of having problematic veins too.
Varicose Vein treatment
Sclerotherapy is the gold standard for treatment of larger veins. It involves the introduction of an extremely fine needle into the vein to be treated. The vein is then filled with a sclerosing liquid or foam, which causes microscopic damage to the cells lining the vein. The body responds to this damage causing the vessel to shrink and eventually to be obliterated.
This technique will deal with most veins except the very large and can be used to tidy up the leg after vein surgery (stripping). It is now possible to perform the injection under the guidance of ultrasound, which allows treatment of deeper veins and gives additional security and effectiveness.
Individuals who develop varicose veins have a tendency to go on producing new ones over the years. The treatment will sort out varicose veins at that time but new ones will develop over time and they can readily be dealt with.
We recommend occasional top up treatments to maintain trouble free legs; it will avoid the need for major treatments at a later date. Using foam instead of liquid, this new technique is able to treat large varicose veins, and is a good alternative to surgery. If the diameter of the veins is small, i.e. less than 0.8 mm, then laser treatment may be considered. Please see information below.
The Sclerosing agent is used in tiny amounts and causes minimal discomfort, like a tiny pin prick. It is generally less painful than other injections or blood tests.
For 3 days after treatment, the injection sites will be covered with dental rolls held in place with micro pore or other tape, all secured with a tubigrip or similar bandage. When the wrappings are removed after 3 days, small bruises will be visible at the injections sites but will fade within a week or two. For one or two weeks, some veins will probably appear more prominent than before treatment but will then usually begin to fade and continue to do so for up to eight weeks or longer. Remaining veins can be re-injected to reduce them further after 4 to 6 weeks.
Itching, usually mild and restricted to the length of the vessel treated for 1 to 2 days; bruising, brown discolouration of the skin, which is due to the deposition of an iron-containing pigment (haemosiderin); and new vessel formation. Other complications of sclerotherapy are rare . The area around the ankle is more likely to have complications than other areas. Pregnant or breast feeding mums will be asked to postpone treatment; and patients taking certain medications (e.g. anticoagulants) may be advised against sclerotherapy.
Normal daily activities are fine and exercise is encouraged, with the exception of swimming which should be avoided until the skin is completely healed. Wearing of support tights will improve the outcome and is recommended for up to 6 weeks; for more complex clients, longer periods of wearing such tights may be advised. We advise a 20-30 minute walk immediately after sclerotherapy before travelling home. No hot baths or saunas for at least 2 weeks; no strenuous activities for 1 week.
Thread Veins on the Legs
There are currently two main methods available to treat the smaller leg thread veins, these are Laser treatment and sclerotherapy (the injection of a sclerosing agent into the vessels). Canterbury Skin & Laser Clinic can offer either treatment, or a combination of both to achieve the best possible results. By combining laser and sclerotherapy treatments, we are able to maximise our ability to clear most thread veins.
Laser therapy and sclerotherapy are not suitable for all people; selection is usually dictated by the size, site and extent of the veins to be treated. The initial assessment allows the doctor to inspect the treatment site(s) and advise on the appropriate treatment. However as a general guide, small thread veins with a diameter of 0.8mm or less may be treated with the laser. Larger thread veins will be more effectively treated by sclerotherapy.
Lasers to treat spider veins in the legs work by producing powerful light. If the wavelength of the system is matched to a target colour (such as the red cells in blood), the energy of the laser is absorbed specifically by that target and minimally by the surrounding tissues. The laser delivers a series of focused energy pulses generating heat for very short periods of time; this closes down the thread veins, without perforating them. The collapsed veins are gradually dissolved and removed by the body’s immune system over several weeks following the treatment. The laser is fired in short bursts, which feels like a hot pin-prick. Before, during and/or following treatment the skin is cooled which reduces this sensation and a cooling gel applied.
After the laser treatment, the treated veins may be immediately less visible than before the treatment. There may be some redness and swelling or light crusting. This usually subsides within a few days. However, the coagulated blood within the veins may make the veins appear darker and make them appear worse for 3 months or more. The number of treatments needed, will depend on the site and the extent of the affected area. Small veins normally disperse just after 1-2 treatments at 6-8 week intervals. Larger areas of veins may need several sessions at 8 -10 weeks intervals. Often 2-3 sessions are performed and a wait period of 3 months is advised before the results are reviewed.
Varicose Vein Treatment
Thread Vein Treatment
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Why choose Canterbury Skin and Laser Clinic?
Here at Kent's leading private skin and laser clinic, our experts are specialists in all aspects of dermatology, skin cancer, anti-ageing and beauty treatments. We are one of the few skin clinics in the UK where all medical consultations and treatments are provided by specialist doctors with Dermatology experience and laser training.
Canterbury Skin and Laser Clinic is regulated by the Care Quality Commission, ensuring the best level of treatment is provided to you in a safe environment. Our Clinical Lead Dr Mark Hudson-Peacock is a member of the British Association of Dermatologists, the British Laser Medical Association, the British Hair and Nail Society, the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology and is certified by the Consulting Room. We have won many awards including the WhatClinic Patient Service Award in 2019 and the ghp Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Awards 2019.