Understanding Varicose Veins in Younger Patients

varicose veins in younger patientsVaricose veins are typically associated with old age. However, the truth is they can strike at any age, including in those who are 30 or younger. It could be that you’re genetically more likely to develop varicose veins, or they could develop due to pregnancy or down to numerous lifestyle factors.

Here, we’ll look at why varicose veins are becoming more prevalent in younger patients and what can be done to combat them.

More younger people than ever before are developing varicose veins

While young people have never been immune to developing varicose veins, there does appear to have been an increase in recent years, in the number affected by the condition. Some experts believe this is down to younger people leading a much more sedentary lifestyle.

In a digital age where younger people now spend a lot of time staring at smartphones and watching TV box sets, it has resulted in many developing conditions usually associated with old age. Lack of activity and sitting for long periods of time can contribute towards the development of varicose veins.

It isn’t just varicose veins younger people are starting to develop. Medical professionals have also seen an increase in the number of younger patients seeking treatment for back pain and knee pain, along with haemorrhoids.

Prevention and treatment of varicose veins

While genetic cases of varicose veins in younger patients cannot be prevented, the majority could be. The key is to stay as active as possible. Limit the amount of time you spend sat or standing in one place. Ensuring you exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet will also help to prevent them.

If you do develop varicose veins, it’s beneficial to get them treated as quickly as possible. This will stop them from worsening over time. It will also prevent the need for more invasive treatments. The earlier varicose veins are diagnosed and treated, the less invasive the treatment will need to be.

Overall, varicose veins are becoming more frequent in younger patients so it’s important to recognise the signs. If you suspect you are suffering with the condition, you should speak to your doctor or attend a specialist vein clinic for a consultation.  Varicose veins may seem like solely a cosmetic issue, but if left untreated they can actually go on to develop into a more serious condition.

Exercising in vein? Is exercise good for varicose veins?

exercise and varicose veinsVaricose veins are a common condition in UK adults and are thought to present in one in three individuals to some degree. Although it’s often thought of as a health concern that only affects the elderly, many young men and women can also suffer from this unsightly and often uncomfortable problem.

There are many myths and misconceptions about what can cause varicose veins and, although some factors are proven, such as a genetic predisposition or pregnancy, others are less clear-cut. One common concern of patients visiting our Cornwall Vein Clinic is whether exercise caused their varicose veins?

Does exercise cause varicose veins?

Patients have often seen pictures of athletes with bulging veins and think that exercise could have been the cause of their own vein problems, but all the evidence suggests that exercise will not cause varicose veins. The enlarged veins sported by athletes are a combination of less subcutaneous fat present in the arms and legs and veins that have dilated due to the increased demands from the muscles.

The bad news is that though exercise doesn’t cause varicose veins and will strengthen the calf muscles that help pump blood back up to the heart, it also doesn’t protect you from them developing them entirely.

Exercising with varicose veins

Another common question we receive is whether it’s safe to continue exercising once you’ve developed varicose veins. The condition occurs when the valves malfunction and blood flows the wrong way through the veins. During heavy exercise, the amount of blood pumping through the veins increases greatly and damaged veins may not be able to deal will this as easily as they could before.

Particular forms of exercise, such as running and cycling, demand more from our legs, so it might be time to swap the gym for the pool. Although blood flow to the legs increases as with other sporting activities, the legs are supported by the water and also elevated which minimises the effects of gravity.

If you want to continue running or cycling, then it might be time to invest in some compression stockings which squeeze the calf and prevent blood pooling in the lower extremities.

The benefits of exercise for your overall health mean it is essential that you don’t let varicose veins prevent you from keeping fit and active. For advice on how to manage your existing condition or to find out more about your varicose vein treatment options, call 01872 308 520 to arrange a consultation.

The importance of seeking a correct varicose vein diagnosis and treatment

Although not typically considered to be a medically threatening condition, varicose veins do have the potential to lead to severe health problems. If you think you’re suffering from varicose veins, therefore, it’s vital you seek correct diagnosis and treatment.

If caught early enough, the majority of varicose veins can be treated with simple, non-invasive procedures. However, as some patients have sadly discovered, seeking treatment in the wrong places can lead to severe complications. Here, we’ll look at why it’s so important to seek a professional diagnosis and what can happen if you choose the wrong practitioner to treat the condition.

The importance of seeking a correct varicose veins diagnosis

Varicose veins vary greatly in severity and can be caused by numerous factors. Therefore, it is important to seek a diagnosis from a vein specialist to determine the best course of treatment going forward.

Those with mild to moderate varicose veins, for example, should find a non-invasive treatment will be enough to clear up the problem. However, if the condition is severe and the patient has left it too late before having the problem diagnosed, surgery may be the only viable option available.

It has recently been in the news that some GPs are now starting to offer varicose vein diagnosis and treatments. However, worryingly many of them have not undergone adequate training. This means patients could end up receiving not only a wrong diagnosis but the wrong type of treatment too.

What could go wrong if incorrect treatment is sought?

If incorrect treatment is sought, the least that could happen is it simply won’t fix the issue. However, the worst that could happen is the condition could be made worse, or it could lead to severe complications.

It isn’t just the wrong type of treatment patients needs to be wary of. The person carrying out the procedure should also be extensively trained and experienced in performing varicose vein treatments.

Overall, while varicose veins are mainly a cosmetic issue to start with, they can develop into much more serious conditions. Seeking the correct treatment and an accurate diagnosis are crucial. If you’re looking to treat your varicose veins, it’s therefore important to ensure you’re choosing a reliable and experienced varicose vein specialist.

A specialist or GP: who should you turn to for varicose vein treatment?

Some people still dismiss varicose veins as a purely cosmetic issue, yet research into the condition has revealed if it’s left untreated, it can actually lead to potentially serious health conditions. In very rare cases, it can even prove to be fatal. This message is starting to get across, but it’s left many wondering where they should turn to for treatment.

Is it possible to have varicose vein treatment on the NHS?

In recent years, the Clinical Commissioning Groups that approve and regulate services in the NHS have been forced to introduce health rationing for many ‘low priority conditions’ that previously would have received treatment. Every CCG varies, but in Cornwall certain criteria have been introduced before treatment is approved:

  • Varicose eczema on the lower limbs which is thought to be caused by chronic venous insufficiency
  • Superficial vein thrombosis which is characterised by the appearance of hard, painful veins in the legs
  • Recurrent or ascending superficial phlebitis; this is an inflamed varicose vein near the surface of the skin which results in hard, painful lumps underneath the skin and a red appearance to the overlying skin
  • A venous ulcer on the lower limbs which has not healed within two weeks
  • Severe swelling to the lower limbs
  • Varicose veins with arterial insufficiency
  • Lipodermatosclerosis; a skin condition of the lower legs
  • Incipient ulceration with the skin appearing red or hard

Patients that are not suitable for referral for NHS treatment include the following:

  • Patients with no symptoms or changes to the skin condition associated with venous disease
  • Patients whose concerns are deemed ‘cosmetic’
  • Patients with very mild symptoms, such as itching, aching and mild swelling or eczema

Why a vein specialist is your best option

Although most varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue, it’s still important to have them correctly treated to ensure they do not worsen and also to improve self-confidence.

Varicose vein specialists such as the Cornwall Vein Clinic, have been carrying out private varicose vein treatments for many years. They have significant experience and offer a wide range of different treatment options. Book a consultation today to find out more about the range of treatments on offer.

Could buckwheat help to cure varicose veins?

natural cure for varicose veinsThere’s a lot of natural remedies recommended for the cure of varicose veins and one of the latest is buckwheat. There’s no denying this super seed delivers many impressive health benefits, but could it really be the solution you’re looking for to get rid of those unsightly veins?

What it claims to do

Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and it’s renowned for its energising and nourishing benefits. It is said to improve and regulate sleep, aid in weight loss, help lower cholesterol and prevent varicose veins.

Its benefits in the prevention of varicose veins are credited to its rutin content. This is basically a flavonoid which is thought to help strengthen the veins and lower venous insufficiency. As varicose veins are often caused because of weakened vein walls, it therefore makes sense experts would link buckwheat as a potential varicose vein prevention aid.

Will buckwheat work?

The key thing to consider here is buckwheat may have the potential to prevent varicose veins, but it will do nothing in the treatment of the condition. So, if you’re looking to treat your existing venous disease, no matter how much buckwheat you eat, it won’t make any difference.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking to prevent the condition, well, it couldn’t hurt to try it. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is part of successful varicose vein prevention, but it still won’t necessarily mean you’ll avoid developing the condition.

There are many factors which contribute to varicose vein development. Pregnancy, weight gains, heredity, and even just being older can all lead to varicose veins. Therefore, even as a preventative measure, it’s unlikely buckwheat is going to make a massive difference to your chances of developing venous disease.

Overall, while it can’t hurt and could be beneficial to add buckwheat to your diet, it’s unfortunately not going to provide you with a miracle cure for varicose veins. However, the range of actual treatments available these days might just surprise you. Many patients discover they only require a minimally invasive procedure to eliminate the veins completely. So, if you’re suffering with the condition, book an appointment with a vein specialist now and see which treatment would be best suited to you.

Are you guilty of these 5 habits which can contribute to varicose veins?

varicose vein causesVaricose veins can be caused by many things; some of which cannot be avoided such as age, genetics and pregnancy. However, did you know that your lifestyle could be contributing to your risk of developing and worsening these unsightly and sometimes dangerous veins?

Here are 5 habits which can potentially contribute to varicose veins:

  1. Failing to build or maintain muscles in the legs: If you’re guilty of not exercising the leg muscles as much as you should, it can lead to unsightly varicose veins. As you lose muscle mass, it starts to cause gaps within the muscle which encourage the veins to dilate. So, which is the best exercise for preventing varicose veins and which can actually make them worse?
  2. Pumping iron: Exercise, in general, is good for vein health; blood is pumped back to the heart from the calf muscles and strong calves promote healthy blood circulation which in turn minimises venous disease. However, some forms of exercise are better than others. Walking is the best exercise you can do because it’s low impact and stretches and strengthens the calf pump. A stationary bike or elliptical also work in the same way. Weight lifting, on the other hand, puts a strain on venous circulation. As blood flows back to the heart from the legs, it passes through the vena cava situated in the abdomen. Weight lifting puts pressure on the core muscles in the abdomen which can impede blood flow, causing venous blood to pool in the leg veins.
  3. Indulging in a high-salt diet: Too much salt can have all kinds of negative effects on the health, but many are unaware that varicose veins are one of them. The trouble is, too much sodium can lead to water retention. This, in turn, causes an increase in the blood volume, placing extra pressure onto the valves of the veins. Over time, they start to get weaker and the veins in the legs become more prominent.
  4. Wearing nothing but high heels: If the only footwear you own are high heels, your chance of developing varicose veins is higher than it would be otherwise. The calf muscles play an important role in pumping the blood from the legs, up to the heart. The position these muscles are placed in when you’re wearing high heels, prevents them from being able to pump the blood effectively, potentially causing it to build up in the legs.
  5. Sitting at your desk for long periods of time: Sitting for long periods of time can greatly exacerbate varicose veins; our leg muscles function as the pump that drives venous blood back to the heart and gravity can cause it to pool in the legs. However, it’s good to know that one persistent myth about varicose veins isn’t true: crossing your legs won’t cause them.

As you can see, there are some pretty surprising causes of varicose veins which many people are simply unaware of. If you’ve developed varicose veins, it’s important to seek treatment as early as possible. Book a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic to find out about the wide range of treatments available today.

Compression hosiery market to grow significantly – but is it a good treatment option? 

New research has shown that the compression socks market is expected to grow at a gradual rate from now through until 2025. Used to treat conditions such as diabetes and varicose veins (venous disease), these socks have proven to be an affordable solution which is why it is so popular with a cash-strapped NHS. But are they really the best choice for varicose vein sufferers?

What are compression socks and how do they work?

Compression socks support the veins of the leg, improving blood flow back to the heart. They come in a variety of compression strengths, with the mild ones most commonly used for varicose veins.

Compression socks for varicose veinsThey are often the first course of treatment advised for mild venous disease, but despite their benefits, they may not necessarily be the best solution. It’s also important to note that you can’t just go out and buy any old compression socks. In order to work, you need to have the varicose veins checked over and given the right strength compression socks to fit your needs.

Why compression socks aren’t always the best treatment option

There’s no denying compression socks can be a huge help for some patients suffering from varicose veins. However, the majority of those suffering from venous disease would be better suited to a more permanent type of treatment.

The trouble is, compression socks only manage varicose veins symptoms, but they don’t always treat the problem. If you have moderate to severe varicose veins, these socks aren’t going to help. Instead, treatments such as laser therapy would be a much better option.

The compression socks can minimise the problem and reduce the symptoms, but they can’t eliminate it. At the most, they can take the discomfort away and slow down the progression of the disease. However, it will still continue to worsen over time.

Compression stockings may be cheaper, both for patients, and for doctors to prescribe. However, in terms of varicose vein treatments, they certainly aren’t an effective long-term solution and the official guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are that compression hosiery should not be offered unless interventional treatment is unsuitable.

Book a consultation at Cornwall Vein Clinic to find out if you are suitable for the interventional treatments we offer for varicose veins.

By 2021, varicose vein treatment market is expected to see significant growth

varicose vein market growthA new market report has estimated the global varicose vein treatment market will undergo radical growth by the year 2021.
The value of the market is estimated to reach a staggering $400 million, with numerous factors contributing to its growth. So, why is the market growing so much?

Better treatments and consumer awareness contribute to significant growth

The two major reasons why such significant growth is expected in the varicose vein industry, is the variety of much better treatments on offer and growing consumer awareness.

The days have gone where varicose veins could only be treated by surgical stripping. The procedure, which was known to lead to long recovery times and extreme discomfort, has been replaced by innovative, non-invasive techniques. Up until recently, many varicose vein sufferers weren’t aware that newer treatments existed. So, the fact it’s now possible to undergo a relatively quick routine with minimal downtime, has significantly increased treatment rates.

There’s also been more awareness raised of the potential issues varicose veins present. While the majority of varicose veins are harmless, they do have the possibility to turn into a more serious health condition. For this reason, it is safer to have the veins treated as early as possible.

New varicose vein treatments continue to be developed

While varicose vein treatments are certainly come a long way over the years, there are still new treatments being constantly developed.

The Cornwall Vein Clinic has recently added a new, innovative radiofrequency treatment known as Venefit™ or the VNUS Closure procedure to its range of treatments. Compared to surgical procedures, the new version is virtually painless and it offers much more targeted results, reducing the risk of damage to nearby tissues.

Varicose vein treatment in the UK

In the UK, we have also seen a marked increase in patients seeking private treatments for varicose veins as the it is increasingly unlikely to receive treatment on the NHS purely for cosmetic reasons.

Typically, patients will be advised by their GP to try compression stockings, lifestyle changes and resting the legs and will only be referred if the varicose veins are causing such discomfort that it’s impacting on your ability to work, carry out normal activities, affecting your sleep or is resulting in ulceration and bleeding.

However, many patients are understandably not keen to wait until their varicose veins worsen to this point and are keen to find a solution which can guarantee a greatly improved aesthetic appearance to their legs.

Everything you need to know about exercising with varicose veins

exercise and varicose veinsWe often tend to exercise more in the summer months, helped by the warmer weather and the fear of baring your lower limbs in shorts or on the beach. However, if you suffer from varicose veins, there are some types of exercise that could actually make them worse.

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about exercising with varicose veins and avoiding the potential problems it can cause.

Exercise and varicose veins

While some types of exercise can make venous disease worse, in general, exercise is pretty good for varicose veins. This is because it helps to boost blood circulation throughout the body. Varicose veins show up more in the legs due to blood flow restrictions. So, by exercising and improving blood flow, in turn it will reduce the appearance of those unsightly veins.

Regular exercise can also help to prevent the development of new varicose veins. In particular, if you focus on calf muscle exercises, you can help more blood to be pumped back to the heart. Walking and riding a bike can both be especially great at toning the calf muscles, as well as burning calories.

Of course, it’s not all about blood flow. Varicose veins can get worse if you put on weight. Being overweight places additional pressure on the legs, making it even harder for the body to pump blood back to the heart. So, exercise which focuses on weight loss can in turn help to combat varicose veins.

Which exercises should be avoided?

So, you know some of the exercises that are good for minimising varicose veins, but what about exercises you should avoid? Running is one exercise that can worsen venous disease. High-impact running will cause stress to your joints and can cause the varicose veins to swell up even more. Strength based exercises can also be a problem. So, try to avoid weight lifting and other strenuous exercises.

Even sit ups can cause varicose veins to get worse. They, and other abdominal exercises, can place pressure on the abdomen, preventing blood from flowing up to the heart. This will in turn cause the blood to start pooling in the legs, making the veins appear more distinctive.

If fitting in the right kind of exercise is difficult, there are other measures you can take that can improve vein health:

  1. While you’re sitting or standing up, rock your feet back and forth to activate the calf pump.
  2. Wear compression stockings, particularly if you’re going to spend long periods of sitting or standing, travelling or pregnant.
  3. Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time.

Overall, light to moderate exercise is perfectly fine and often helpful at minimising venous disease. However, you do need to be aware that not all exercise is good exercise for varicose vein sufferers. If you’re worried about your varicose veins this summer, why not book a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic to see how easy they can be treated?

How cost cutting in the NHS has affected those suffering with varicose veins

nhs varicose vein cost cuttingThose suffering from venous disease are finding it more difficult to get referrals for treatment due to cost-cutting measures on the NHS.

Now, referrals are being delayed and only those suffering from severe venous disease are being referred to the NHS. This means many patients are being left without treatment, with many not even realising they need treatment.

So, why are varicose veins being treated as a low priority in the UK? Well, it’s largely because they don’t pose an obvious threat until they become quite severe.

Understanding the varicose vein grading system

GPs typically use a grading system to determine when to refer patients for varicose vein treatment. The grades range from 1-6 and referrals are only given to patients who exceed grade 3.

The main reason behind this is because prior to grade 3, the only reported symptoms of the condition aren’t actually medical. There isn’t any discomfort or pain and the issue appears to be largely cosmetic, with most patients simply disliking how the veins look. So, it’s understandable GPs wouldn’t refer them for treatment.

However, patients who experience grade 3 symptoms often have swelling, discomfort and pain. So, it is these patients who are suffering the most as they are being refused a referral for treatment until grade 4.

Treatment is available, regardless of grade

The main thing patients with venous disease need to know is that they don’t need to go through the NHS for treatment. Treatment is available and in some cases, will be covered by insurance.

At the Cornwall Vein Clinic, we offer one of the largest choices of varicose vein treatments available. We encourage patients to seek treatment as early as possible. Not only will this prevent you from experiencing the more uncomfortable symptoms further down the line, but it will also make the treatment much easier. In early cases, non-invasive procedures can be used, whereas once the condition has progressed past a certain point, surgery may be the only option.

To see which treatment options are available to you, book a consultation today.