Varicose veins are not uncommon, but they certainly are unpleasant. These large, twisted, swollen veins are not only unsightly, but they can also cause significant pain, and lead to further health complications down the line. When varicose veins are just unpleasant to look at you might be able to live with them, but they can also cause swelling, aching and pain in the legs. If they become very severe, they can actually lead to ulcers on the skin.
If you are concerned about your varicose veins, you should consult your doctor immediately. Fortunately there are many treatments available, and the right treatment will depend on the severity of your case. Here are a few of the main options:
Sclerotherapy. If your varicose veins are mainly an aesthetic issue, this could be a great solution. Sclerotherapy involves a doctor injecting a substance into the vein itself, which causes it to scar. The blood changes its route and flows into healthier veins, while the old vein simply becomes part of the surrounding tissue. You don't need any anaesthetic for this, but you may require more than one treatment.
Endoscopic vein surgery. If you have severe pain or skin ulcers as a result of your varicose veins, surgery may be necessary. This surgery will be performed by a specialist vascular surgeon. A tiny video camera and light will be attached to a long flexible tube, which will be inserted into the vein using a small incision. The surgeon will then use the camera as a guide for tying off the vein. Endoscopic vein surgery is invasive and you will be put under general anaesthetic throughout, but it will be worth it for the results.
Vein stripping. Some doctors and some patients feel better about having varicose veins removed instead of tied. A common surgery for this is called vein stripping, and as the name would suggest, the vein is literally stripped out from the leg. The vascular surgeon will insert a wire into the varicose vein and strip it out using the wire. This surgery is always performed under general anaesthetic.
If you do elect for one of these surgeries, it is likely to feel some discomfort for weeks following your surgery. A vascular surgeon may also wrap your legs in bandages and encourage you to wear compression stockings. These stockings will help with any swelling you have, and they will also prevent tied varicose veins from opening back up.