• What is Varicose Veins?

    Varicose veins are abnormally enlarged superficial veins usually seen in the thigh and leg. In the majority of cases, these large superficial veins are of a cosmetic nuisance. These veins connect with the deep veins of the leg and play a minor role in the transfer of blood to the heart. The veins become more prominent in the 3-4 decade of life and are more common in females.

  • What causes of Varicose Veins

    Varicose veins occur when the valve in the vein does not function properly. This can be due to the destruction of the valve, or merely, the fact that the vein is dilated so much that the edges of the valve do not meet allowing the blood to slip past. There are several factors that increase your chances of having varicose veins:

    • Genetics -this is the most common cause of varicose veins. Varicose veins tend to run in families.
    • History of Blood Clots – blood clots in the veins destroy the valves and cause them to not function properly.
    • Age – as we age, the valves in our veins lose their ability to function properly. Obesity – being overweight increases abdominal pressure, resulting in an increase in the pressure of the leg veins. This increase in pressure can cause dilation and leakage of the valves in the veins.
    • Sex – woman are more likely than men to develop varicose veins. Female hormones during pregnancy, pre-menstruation, menopause, and hormone replacement can relax the walls of the veins causing them to become dilated.
    • Standing – standing for long periods of time allows blood to pool in the lower extremities. Some occupations such as teachers, nurses, factory workers, hair dressers, and physicians are more likely to develop varicose veins due to extended periods of standing.
  • Results of Varicose Veins Treatment

    The most effective treatment for many varicose veins is to have them surgically removed. However, it is possible that the condition will come back again. New vessels can appear, even after surgery.

  • Your Consultation

    The success and safety of your varicose vein surgery procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You will be asked a number of questions about your health, lifestyle. RVB will evaluate your general state of health, explain the operation technique and discuss likely outcomes of vascular vein treatment and any risks or potential complications. Your medical history will be discussed during the consultation (medical conditions, drug allergies, medical treatments, previous surgeries, current medications). Your vascular surgeon will take photographs for your medical record. Prior to the surgery you will be asked to have lab tests or a medical. If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased bleeding, so you should avoid taking these for a period of time before surgery. RVB will provide you with additional pre-op instructions.

  • The Varicose Veins Surgery Procedure

    The exact method used to remove varicose veins can vary. A commonly performed technique, called stripping, involves tying off and removing the main vein affected in your leg. The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. Two small cuts (about 5cm long) are made, one in the groin at the top of the main vein affected and one near your knee or lower down near your ankle. The top end of the vein near your groin is tied to stop blood flowing through it. Then a flexible wire attached to a special tool at one end is passed through the vein. The wire, along with the vein, is carefully pulled out of the leg through the lower cut. Sometimes the vein is tied off but not removed. Your surgeon will usually also make several tiny cuts (about 5mm long) on your leg to remove smaller veins. The cut in the groin is usually closed with stitches, and any small cuts on your leg are sealed with fabric strips. Your legs will then be tightly bandaged. After surgery, blood can still flow up your legs because the deeper network of veins is left untouched. The procedure usually takes one to two hours, depending on the exact type of operation you are having and whether one or both legs are being treated.

  • Risk

    Fortunately, significant complications from varicose vein surgery are infrequent. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful varicose vein surgery, experience no major problems and are pleased with the results. Anyone considering surgery, however, should be aware of the risks. Your vascular surgeon will discuss the possible risks and potential complications of varicose vein surgery during your personal consultation. Some of the potential complications that will be discussed include bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia, unfavorable scarring, blood clot in the deep veins in the leg, changes in skin sensation, skin or nerve damage etc.

  • Recovery

    After surgery, your legs will be sore and bruised and the wounds may bleed a little. These side-effects should settle within a week or two. You will have bandages on your legs, which you should leave in place until your follow-up appointment. These apply pressure to assist healing. You may also be given compression stockings to wear on your legs, which should be worn as advised by your vascular surgeon. During the first two weeks, try to take short (half hour) walks at least three times a day. This helps to loosen your joints and muscles, and will help speed up your recovery. When sitting down, make sure your feet are higher than your hips. This stops blood pooling in your leg and reduces the pressure on your healing wounds. Your recovery time will depend on whether one or both legs have been treated and the exact procedure used. Scarring will usually fade with time, but won’t disappear completely.


    Can one prevent them varicose veins?

    – If one starts early in life, varicose veins can be prevented. The major preventive measure is to exercise and wear compression stockings.
    – Elevation of the legs at all times is also recommended.
    – During pregnancy, one should always lie on the left side with the legs elevated on a pillow. This prevents the fetus from pressing on the leg veins and decreases the chance of developing varicosities.
    -One should avoid standing for prolonged periods.
    – Don’t cross your legs when sitting down.
    – Wear elastic support stockings.

    What problems can occur if left untreated?
    – Most people with varicose veins do not develop complications. It is impossible to predict who will develop complications. The size of the varicose vein is no related to complications but the duration of the varicose vein is.

    Complications that may occur include:

    • Superficial thrombophlebitis – in this condition, the varicose vein is inflamed and tender. A clot is usually present in the vein.
    • Bleeding – even with minor trauma, the varicose vein may be associated with bleeding. Because the vein is under high pressure, the bleeding can be quite profuse.
    • Venous Eczema – the skin round the vein may become dry and very itchy.
    • Venous Pigmentation – this is brown staining of the skin around the ankle. It is due to the leakage of small amount of blood from the veins into the skin.
    • Venous Ulceration – ulcers at the ankle.