Varicose Veins

THE CONDITION

Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged

Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from the body, to the heart.  Arteries, on the other hand, carry blood from the heart to the body.  To prevent blood flowing backward, veins have a series of one-way valves that keep the blood flowing in one direction - towards the heart.

Varicose veins occur when the valves within the veins are not working properly and allow blood to back flow.  The blood pools in the area below the affected valve, causing the vein to enlarge and stretch.

They can appear as twisted, bulging or lumpy and are often quite noticeable. In addition to the visual appearance, varicose veins can become increasingly symptomatic. 

Symptoms often include ezcema and swelling, along with complaints of pain, heaviness and tenderness along the affected areas. Some patients have a sensation of itching or burning within the affected leg. Another complaint is of restless legs. This typically occurs during the night as the cramping leg muscles contract to push the blood out of the legs back toward the heart.  In advanced stages patients suffer from bleeding, ulcers, skin discoloration and skin hardening.

The earlier you get your varicose veins treated - the better.  It can help you avoid not only serious complications like ulcers and bleeding, but also some of the irreversible and preventable changes.

 

THE TREATMENT

There are a variety of treatments that will eliminate the visible effects and discomfort and potentially prevent more serious health risks.

These procedures include injections (sclerotherapy), endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), ultrasound guided sclerotherapy and general surgery.  

Your specialist will guide you to the appropriate treatment based on factors such as vessel diameter, depth, tortuosity, the number of vessels involved and if there has been previous inflammation or treatment.

 

Sclerotherapy (injections)

This is a medical procedure used to treat spider veins or smaller varicose veins.

A solution (called a sclerosant) is injected directly into the veins using a very fine needle.  The sclerosant irritates the inside of the vein wall, which then becomes inflamed and closes.

In general, veins respond to sclerotherapy within 3 - 6 weeks.  Often two or more sessions are required to treat veins effectively. 

Over a period of several weeks following the injections, the veins usually become darker and then will gradually become less visible, eventually fading from sight.

 

Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)

This is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to treat varicose veins and is performed under local anaesthetic in our operating room.

After local anaesthetic is administered, a laser fibre is introduced into the affected veins under ultrasound guidance.  The surgeon surrounds the vein with a solution which will numb the vein and dissipate heat.  Then he activates the laser.  This closes the vein as the surgeon slowly withdraws the fibre. 

This treatment seals off the major trunks of the faulty vein systems and these treated trunks will gradually be broken down by the body and disappear from sight.

EVLT allows the patient to walk in and walk out, without the need for a general anaesthetic or an overnight stay in hospital.  This can be ideal for those with busy lifestyles, and results in less down time from work or other commitments.

 

General surgery

This is performed by our surgeon at either St George's Hospital or Southern Cross Hospital under general anaesthetic.

Using a variety of techniques, the surgeon will remove the problematic veins.

Usually a patient will stay overnight at the hospital and be released the day following surgery.  Most patients need to take a week off work after this surgery. 

 

Cost of Varicose Vein Treatment

Please refer to our costings page for a list of treatment prices.