Behind the headlines: is the NHS really going to stop treating varicose veins?

Last month the NHS announced it was drastically limiting a number of routine procedures they deemed ‘futile’ in an attempt to save taxpayers’ money. Varicose vein surgery is one of the 17 procedures that made the list alongside surgery for snoring, grommets for glue ear Carpal Tunnel Syndrome release and haemorrhoid surgery, but what does this mean for varicose vein sufferers?

NHS bosses hope to save £200m a year by reducing these ‘unnecessary’ procedures and Steve Powis, the medical director of NHS England, believes that this is just the start: “I’m confident there is more to be done. “We are also going to ask, ‘Are there other procedures and treatments we should add to the list?’ We have to spend taxpayers’ money wisely.”

There was much coverage in the media on this announcement from the NHS and many varicose vein sufferers may have been concerned that they were going to be left to cope with the embarrassment, discomfort or worse of varicose veins.

However, Vascular Surgeon Mr Ken Woodburn of Cornwall Vein Clinic reviewed the consultation document presented by NHS England and the actual position of the NHS is that, instead of surgery, patients should first undergo alternative, very effective keyhole local anaesthetic endovenous procedures if they are experiencing the symptoms of varicose veins.

Unfortunately for varicose vein patients in Cornwall the suggested local criteria for treatment is more restrictive than in the NHS document and patients with varicose veins symptoms in Cornwall currently do not receive treatment on the NHS unless they have complications from their veins. This is unlikely to change in the near future, making self-pay the only option for many patients with varicose vein symptoms.

It is true that varicose veins that are purely cosmetic without any of the associated symptoms will not receive treatment on the NHS but that has long been the case. For those patients that do not meet the local NHS criteria, the full range of varicose vein treatments is available at the Cornwall Vein Clinic. Call us on 01872 308 520 to discuss your options.

What is the best solution for varicose veins?

If you’ve ever researched how to treat and eliminate varicose veins, you’ll likely have come across a lot of different solutions, from natural remedies you can create at home all the way to surgery – there’s a huge choice of treatment options out there.

So, what are the best solutions for varicose veins? Here, you’ll discover the best ways to ease the symptoms and eliminate those unsightly veins once and for all.

 Compression stockings

Compression stockings aren’t an actual treatment, but they can prove beneficial at easing the symptoms. They’re also often used after varicose vein treatment until the legs heal. If you have varicose veins and you’re planning on jetting off on holiday, you are advised to wear compression stockings throughout the flight to prevent the risk of blood clots developing.

So, if you have varicose veins and you’re looking for temporary relief, compression stockings are a great investment.

Endovenous Laser Ablation

Endovenous laser ablation is one of many varicose vein treatments available. The technology has been recently improved, offering a less invasive, higher accuracy laser treatment.

It basically uses laser energy to seal off the vein. The great thing about this treatment is it can be used to treat more complex varicose veins.

Cyanoacrylate Glue

Cyanoacrylate glue is one of the newest varicose vein treatments on offer. It glues the veins shut, using an ultrasound guided technique. Unlike some other treatments, this one doesn’t require numerous local anaesthetic injections or bandages after it’s been performed.

This type of treatment isn’t suitable for everyone, so you will need to double check with a vein specialist to determine whether or not it’s right for you.

VNUS Closure procedure

If your varicose veins are particularly severe, the VNUS Closure procedure could be the best option. It’s a much better alternative to traditional vein stripping and is performed under local anaesthetic.

Radiofrequency energy is delivered into the vein, which heats up the vein walls; the collagen within the walls then shrinks, causing the veins to close. It’s a high-tech procedure producing excellent results.

The above is just some of the best solutions for varicose veins. However, it’s really important you seek a consultation with a vein specialist to determine which treatment is best suited to you.

Is it possible to detect varicose veins early?

Varicose veins are extremely common and while they are largely more of a cosmetic issue, they do pose potential health risks. Therefore, it’s always beneficial to detect and treat the condition as early as possible.

The question is, is it possible to detect the signs of varicose veins early? Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the earliest signs and symptoms of venous disease.

Varicose vein symptoms can start much earlier than you think

Most people discover they have venous disease when they discover large, bulging veins. However, the signs of varicose veins actually start long before they become noticeable. The condition tends to develop very slowly, which makes it difficult to establish the early warning signs; especially if you don’t know what to look out for.

Therefore, if you’re looking to identify and treat varicose veins as quickly as possible, you’re going to need to learn more about these early signs.

What varicose vein symptoms develop early on?

There are a few symptoms you can watch out for in the early stages of venous disease. These include:

  • Tired, aching legs
  • Changes in pigmentation
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Hair loss on the lower leg

If your legs are constantly aching and tired, it’s likely a sign varicose veins are developing. However, an easier sign to look out for is a change in pigmentation. If you notice the skin, especially around the ankles, has become discoloured, it’s a possibility it could be venous disease.

Hair loss on the lower leg is a more uncommon symptom, but it is more common in men suffering from the condition. Some sufferers can also develop restless leg syndrome where you have the urge to keep moving the legs, especially during the night in bed.

If you have one or more of these symptoms, it may not necessarily link to varicose veins, but it’s certainly worth having it checked out. Early diagnosis gives you the chance to treat varicose veins before they fully develop. This means the treatment will be much quicker and less invasive.

If you’re worried you may be experiencing early signs of varicose veins, book a consultation with our expert team today.

What’s the difference between spider veins and varicose veins?

spider veins and varicose veinsSpider veins and varicose veins are often mistakenly grouped together as one and the same. However, did you know the two are actually separate vascular conditions? They may produce very similar symptoms, but here you’ll discover the differences between these two conditions.

How do the symptoms differ?

The symptoms of spider veins and varicose are very similar in some ways, yet different in others.

In terms of appearance, spider veins tend to be much smaller than varicose veins. They’re typically purple, blue or red veins which present in clusters, similar to that of a spider web (hence the name). They never bulge out of the skin so if you notice the veins are large and bulging, it’s more likely you have varicose veins.

Most of the time, spider veins don’t present any pain or discomfort. However, it is possible they can cause itchiness, stinging or burning of the skin. There’s also a chance they can lead to other skin conditions. Varicose veins, on the other hand, tend to cause more aching, throbbing and swelling.

What causes spider veins and varicose veins?

The cause of spider and varicose veins can be very different. Spider veins tend to occur due to a backup of blood. However, they can also be triggered by sun exposure, injury and hormone changes. Varicose veins are usually caused by faulty or weak valves within the veins. Sometimes spider veins are also associated with these faulty or weak valves.

Whilst varicose veins can go on to cause major health concerns, spider veins are usually only a cosmetic problem.

Understanding your treatment options

Whether you’re suffering from varicose veins or spider veins, there are treatment options available. Sclerotherapy is a popular treatment option for both conditions, proving especially effective at combatting spider veins. It’s a simple injection style technique which is minimally invasive and extremely effective.

It’s crucial to undergo a consultation and ultrasound assessment before an appropriate treatment can be identified. Establishing the severity and type of vein issue you’re experiencing will help to determine which treatment would be better suited. Contact us today to book a consultation with one of our vein specialists.

Can men develop varicose veins?

women and varicose veinsWhen you do your research into varicose veins, you’ll commonly find most of the information presented is aimed towards women. So, does this mean varicose veins solely affect women or can they affect men too?

While varicose veins are certainly more common in women, they can affect men too. Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about male varicose veins.

Why is most varicose vein information geared towards women?

There’s a couple of reasons why the majority of varicose vein information tends to focus solely on women. Firstly, women are more likely to develop the condition. Not only do they generally have an increased risk of venous disease, but they also have additional risk factors such as pregnancy.

Another reason why the condition is largely female-associated is because men are less likely to seek treatment. This is because they’re not typically as likely to be bothered about the appearance of varicose veins as women are. They mistakenly, like many women, believe that varicose veins are purely cosmetic, so they don’t talk about or seek help for the condition.

However, like women, varicose veins can cause additional problems for men. So, if you are suffering from the condition, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

What issues can varicose veins cause for men?

Men suffer much in the same way as women with varicose vein symptoms. However, they may not experience the same level of discomfort as they don’t tend to have as much fluid retention within the body. Although many factors can impact the symptoms of varicose veins, fluid retention is a common trigger.

You may also start to discover brown patches developing around the varicose veins. This could pinpoint other vein conditions, which can develop if varicose veins aren’t treated.

Why it’s important to get varicose veins treated

Although you may see your varicose veins as a mere cosmetic issue, the truth is they can prove potentially dangerous. Men who are suffering from the condition are therefore advised to seek treatment as soon as possible. This will stop the condition from worsening and also enable you to opt for less invasive treatment options.

Overall, men can develop varicose veins and the symptoms are very much the same as they are in women. If you’re concerned you may have venous disease, book a consultation with us today. Our vein specialists will help to diagnose the condition, as well as create an effective treatment plan.

Are cyclists more likely to develop varicose veins?

cycling and varicose veins This glorious May Bank Holiday heralded the annual Tour de Yorkshire, one of Britain’s premier road races. Over two million spectators came out to watch this now four-day event, many of whom may now be dreaming of getting out on the road.

In fact, as the weather heats up, what better way to start enjoying the warmer, sunnier weather than a bike ride? However, before you head out on a long journey, you may want to consider what it could do to your legs.

There’s a lot of factors which can contribute towards varicose veins, but one which isn’t widely known is exercise. There appears to be a link between certain types of exercise and the development of varicose veins. Interestingly, cycling is one of them. So, are cyclists more likely to develop varicose veins?

A scientific link between varicose veins and cycling yet to be established

Although varicose vein clinics do see a lot of patients who are keen cyclists, as of yet there is no scientific evidence to suggest cyclists have an increased risk. In fact, working out on a stationary exercise bike has been shown to be beneficial at the prevention of varicose veins. However, actual cycling is a little tougher on the legs.

So, although there isn’t scientific proof that cycling can increase the risk of varicose veins, there does seem to be a logical link there.

Exercise and varicose veins

It’s not just cycling which can trigger the development of varicose veins. There are a few exercise mistakes you could be making which could be increasing the risk.

Weightlifting, lunges, crunches and even prolonged yoga, can lead to venous disease. This is because the exercises place a lot of pressure on the legs. So, in the long term, this can lead to varicose veins. Ideally, you’ll want to stick to more gentle exercises on the body such as swimming, walking and riding a stationary bicycle.

Although there’s no proven link between cycling and an increased risk of developing varicose veins, cyclists may be more inclined to seek treatment because they have to reveal their legs in lycra. If you’re worried about varicose veins, book a consultation with us today and discover the best treatment options including the innovative VNUS Closure Procedure – most involve very little downtime, so you can be back on your bike in no time.

How Does Smoking Affect Varicose Veins?

smoking and varicose veinsIf you smoke, you already know the risks to your lungs and heart. However, did you know it could also negatively impact your vascular health?

Many people are unaware of the effect smoking can have on their veins. Here, you’ll discover the link between smoking and varicose veins and the other vascular issues it can trigger.

How does smoking impact varicose veins?

Research shows that smokers are more likely to develop varicose veins. Not only that, but the condition is also more likely to be more severe in those who smoke.

The harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, cause havoc on the circulatory system. As you may be aware, varicose veins can develop when the blood isn’t circulating properly from the legs to the heart. As the blood struggles to circulate, it can pool up in the veins, leading to venous disease.

The nicotine also causes problems for the veins. It causes the arteries to harden and become narrower, making it more difficult for blood to pass through. There are additional chemicals in cigarettes too which are also known to reduce oxygen flow and thicken the blood – again contributing to varicose veins.

So, as you can see, smoking does pose a very high risk of venous disease. However, varicose veins aren’t the only thing you need to worry about.

What other vein issues can smoking cause?

As if varicose veins aren’t bad enough, smoking can also increase the risk of venous disease complications. This includes the risk of blood clots, which in severe cases can prove deadly.

As the arteries harden and the blood becomes thicker, the risk of clots is extremely high. If left untreated, this could lead to the development of deep vein thrombosis – a very serious vein issue which requires immediate treatment.

Of course, there’s also the fact your veins are responsible for your overall health. So, if they aren’t healthy and functioning correctly, all kinds of health issues can develop.

The importance of seeking treatment

The obvious answer to avoid smoking-related varicose veins is to quit smoking. However, it’s equally important to seek treatment for varicose veins once they have developed.

You might just be surprised by the huge range of treatments now available to eradicate varicose veins. Many of which are minimally invasive and very quick to carry out. Treating the veins is extremely important, even if they aren’t causing any unpleasant side effects. Without treatment, the condition will worsen and potentially lead to a more serious health problem.

Book a consultation today and discover which treatment is best for you. If you are a smoker, now is also a great time to consider quitting!

Is the Warmer Weather Playing Havoc with Your Varicose Veins?

warmer weather and varicose veinsAfter what felt like the coldest winter in years, springtime has now arrived. However, this isn’t necessarily great news for those suffering from varicose veins.

The changing weather conditions can play havoc for those suffering from varicose veins. Here, we’ll look at how winter can sometimes mask the symptoms of the condition and why you might want to seek treatment now the weather is getting warmer.

How does winter affect varicose veins?

The cold weather of winter may be unpleasant for your mood and comfort level, but it could actually be beneficial for your varicose veins. This is because colder temperatures can cause the bulging varicose veins to shrink in size, allowing the valves to function a lot better. This results in fewer unpleasant symptoms associated with the condition such as pain and swelling.

However, for some varicose vein sufferers, winter can also have the opposite effect. If you overindulged at Christmas, the excess holiday weight can put additional pressure onto the veins, causing them to hurt or ache more. People are also generally less active in winter, causing additional problems with weight gain and worsening varicose veins. Then there’s the effect the colder weather has on the skin.

Winter is well known to lead to dry skin. As the skin dries up, it can cause varicose veins to itch more. The cold can also affect the circulatory system, again worsening the symptoms of varicose veins.

So, patients will now either be experiencing slight relief as the weather warms up, or their varicose veins could be worsening. Whether your varicose veins have started to get worse or better, now is the best time to seek treatment. It won’t be long before summer is here and seeking treatment now will ensure your legs look perfect once the hot weather arrives.

Understanding your varicose vein treatment options

There’s a lot of varicose vein treatments available to choose from. It’s important to undergo a consultation to determine which treatment will work best for you. The trouble with varicose veins is, they never go away. You may be able to treat the symptoms, but if left untreated, the condition will only become worse.

From compression stockings for very mild varicose veins to laser treatment and surgery for moderate to severe varicose veins – there’s a treatment option for everyone. Book a consultation now and discover just how easy it is to eliminate these unsightly veins once and for all.

How to Minimise the Pain and Discomfort Caused by Varicose Veins

Although varicose veins are typically dismissed as a cosmetic issue, they can prove to be potentially painful. While each patient will experience differing levels of symptoms and side effects, pain and discomfort are to be expected to some degree.

Here, you’ll discover how to minimise the pain and discomfort caused by varicose veins.

Compression stockings

Typically, the first treatment option that’s used to minimise the symptoms of varicose veins is compression stockings. These basically help to keep the blood flowing from the legs up to the heart. They’re especially ideal for those who stand or sit still for long periods of time.

The great thing about compression stockings is that they’re really affordable. However, they are only a temporary solution and shouldn’t be seen as a long-term cure.

Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time

When you have varicose veins, you’ll typically find sitting or standing for long periods of time can aggravate the condition. So, wherever you can, you’ll want to avoid staying in the same position for hours at a time. It’s recommended you get up, walk around or sit down for short periods if you tend to stand still a lot throughout the day.

Exercise

exercise to prevent varicose veinsDoing a little exercise each day which stretches the calf muscles is also a good idea. Good leg exercises include leg lifts, calf raises, bicycle legs or mountain climbers and side lunges.

Even if you just flex your feet a little frequently throughout the day, it can make a huge difference to your pain and discomfort.

Seeking treatment

Of course, the above tips are only temporary solutions to the pain and discomfort caused by varicose veins. The best way to not just minimise, but eradicate the problem, is to seek varicose vein treatment.

Many people don’t realise there’s a lot of different treatments available now. Some are so quick and simple they can be carried out on your lunch break. Treating the veins won’t just eliminate the pain, it will also prevent the condition from worsening. In serious cases, blood clots can form, which can prove potentially fatal if they move up towards the heart.

Book a consultation today to learn more about the type of varicose vein treatment best suited to your circumstances.

Varicose Veins Could Be Warning Sign of Blood Clots

New research has revealed that varicose veins could quadruple your risk of developing blood clots. Referred to as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), these clots which develop in the legs, can prove fatal if they travel up towards the lungs and the heart.

Here, we’ll look at the link between varicose veins and blood clots, and why it’s worth seeking treatment as soon as possible.

Understanding the link between varicose veins and blood clots

A team of researchers from the Taoyuan Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, have discovered a potentially deadly link between varicose veins and blood clots. After following over 425,000 people, half of whom had varicose veins, it was discovered those with the condition had a 5.3% higher chance of developing DVT.

This has led the team to advise patients who do suffer with the condition, to closely monitor and assess the problem. However, leader of the team, Dr Shyue Chang, has insisted more research needs to be carried out to determine whether varicose veins cause the clots. So, while they are shown to increase the risk of blood clots, there is no evidence to suggest they actually cause the problem.

The importance of seeking early treatment

It’s common for people suffering from varicose veins to simply put up with them, rather than seek help, whether that is due to fear of the treatment itself or because they don’t think it’s serious enough to warrant intervention. However, as the research clearly shows, varicose veins can become a real problem and pose a real danger to your health.

The range of treatment options available these days is impressive. Many of the treatments are non-invasive and virtually painless and the earlier you seek help, the less traumatic the treatment will be.

If you’d like to eliminate your varicose veins once and for all, contact us today. You may just be surprised how easy and painless the required treatment is.