Mr Braithwaite answers some of the more commonly asked questions about varicose veins and venous Treatments.

Click on the question to reveal the answer.

Varicose veins are tortuous dilated veins on the legs. Many people do not like the look of them. They can cause aching of the leg, itching, swelling of the ankle, pain, changes in the colour of the skin, eczema, hardening of the fat under the skin and ulcers.

We do not really know what causes varicose veins but many people have a family member with the condition so it is probably an inherited condition. Varicose veins occur because the non-return valves no longer work properly. Standing, crossing legs, getting pregnant and being fat do not cause varicose veins but, in those people who are susceptible they can be made worse by those factors

Veins are the pipes that drain blood from the feet back to the heart. They are a bit like a road network. There are plenty of veins in the leg but the main ones, the deep veins, do not become varicose veins. The deep veins are the main ‘motorways’ so it is okay to remove one or two of the ‘A’ roads as the blood will find its way via other veins (‘B’ roads and country lanes). In fact the varicose veins put more ‘strain’ on the other veins in the network and that is why they can cause the symptoms they do. The veins that are affected by varicose veins are sometimes used for bypass grafts in people who have heart disease or a condition called peripheral vascular disease. So the veins are important but only when they are working properly. When they become varicose they cause harm and are, often, not suitable for bypass grafts. It is therefore okay to remove them

Probably. Most Heart surgeons can use various blood vessels for a bypass. Whilst the great saphenous vein in the leg can be used, there is also an artery inside the chest ( internal mammary) or one in the forearm ( Radial artery) that can be used. When someone has varicose veins, the Great Saphenous vein may not be suitable for bypass surgery anyway. If you are a smoker, have diabetes, high cholesterol or uncontrolled blood pressure then you are at risk of heart disease and should discuss your health with your GP. If you are concerned that you might need your vein for bypass surgery then you need to balance that with the symptoms in your leg before you make a decision to have varicose vein treatmentToggle Content

All vein procedures can be done under either a local or general anaesthetic. Foam Sclerotherapy is nearly always done when you are awake. It barely hurts because it is done under a local anaesthetic and involves a small tube in the vein ( watch the video). 

More and more people are opting for local anaesthesia for their vein treatments as it means they do not have any after effects from a general anaesthetic and only have to spend between 2 and 3 hours in the clinic.

Some people are squeamish or do not like needles so they may find it better to have their operation when they are asleep with a general anaesthetic. Conversely, some patients do not want to go to sleep so they tolerate the mild discomfort of local anaesthetic surgery very well.

Most people can return to normal activities within a few days of treatment. A day or two after surgery, you can have a shower and then, after putting on a compression stocking, you can return to normal activities. Most people are back to normal within a week but some take longer to recover.

Yes, providing you are able to perform an emergency stop. If you have had a general anaesthetic then you should not drive for at least one day and not if you are taking strong painkillers that might impair your ability to drive. Most people do not need to take any painkillers.

Most operations take about an hour. If you need a lot of avulsions or have both legs treated then it can take longer but rarely more than two hours

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