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.

Does venous disease progress over time?

varicose vein treatment optionsVenous disease is extremely common in the UK, though the majority of sufferers are unaware of the dangers it presents.

Varicose veins are often seen as a simple cosmetic issue, so for those who don’t have any uncomfortable symptoms, they often think it doesn’t really need to be treated.

The trouble is, venous disease can worsen over time. So, while the bulging veins may only appear to be a frustrating cosmetic issue, if left untreated they could worsen and cause further issues down the line.

Why venous disease should always be treated ASAP

So, just how much worse could venous disease become if it is left untreated? Well, in extreme cases the blockage and blood flow issues causing the bulging veins could lead to blood clots. These can travel up through the blood stream, into the heart, causing a potentially fatal heart attack.

Now, that may be rare, but it can happen. At the very least however, the veins will simply continue to bulge out more and look worse over time. Swelling will also start to occur, and the legs will start to ache. There’s also the chance open sores will develop, along with ulcers. So, it becomes more uncomfortable the longer you leave them.

There’s also the fact that the longer you leave venous disease untreated, the harder it is to correct. There are a lot of non-invasive treatments available these days which can safely and practically painlessly eliminate the problem before it progresses.

However, if left until they become too severe, surgery may be the only option.

Early varicose vein treatment options

The main benefit of getting venous disease treated as soon as possible, besides the obvious cosmetic benefit, is it will be much simpler to correct.

There are lots of different treatments available, with early options including injections and laser treatment. The exact treatment which will be most beneficial for you will be determined during an initial consultation.

Overall, venous disease may seem like a simple frustrating and embarrassing concern, but it could lead to much worse health issues if left untreated. With so many great non-invasive treatment options available these days, it makes sense to seek treatment as soon as possible.

When Should You Consult a Vein Specialist?

Vein SpecialistThere are a lot of reasons you may need to visit a doctor, but when it comes to veins many people are unsure where to turn. Is there anything a vein specialist can do and how can you tell if your vein worries are serious enough to get them checked out?
Here, we’ll look at when you should seek help for vein-related issues.

1. Are your legs constantly tired?

Often the first sign of a vein issue is tired, heavy legs. However, it’s also easy to miss; especially if you are on your feet all day where your legs would naturally feel tired in the evening.

If they also feel heavy however, it’s a sure sign you’re suffering from a mild swelling. This is caused due to slow blood flow. The good news is, it’s easy to treat with minimally invasive procedures.

2. Do you have a genetic link to vein issues?

If poor veins run in the family, it’s important to take precautions to prevent venous disease. Did you know that if you have an immediate family member who suffers from poor veins, you are 60% likely to develop the same issues? If you have two immediate family members with venous disease on the other hand, your chances of suffering from the same condition increases to 90%.

So, it’s worth consulting a doctor or vein specialist at least once a year to ensure if you do develop vein problems, it can be treated as quickly as possible.

3. Have you got open sores on either or both legs?

Leg ulcers more than likely point to venous related issues. However, it is important to have the cause diagnosed as you could be suffering from diabetic or arterial ulcers. If it is caused by venous disease, there’s an excellent range of treatments available which can help to close the sores and more importantly, keep them closed.

Overall, varicose veins, or venous disease, is extremely common, yet it often goes undiagnosed. What you may not realise is that if left untreated, vein issues can develop into more serious conditions. In rare cases for example, varicose veins can be deadly. So, it’s better to get your veins checked out by a vein specialist if you suspect there’s something wrong.

Could Your Foot Pain Be Caused by Varicose Veins?

If you’ve been suffering from foot pain, did you know it could be a symptom of varicose veins?

While most commonly associated with bulging, unsightly veins, they can also cause irritation, swelling and pain. Foot pain is typically blamed on plantar fasciitis, but it’s not always the case. So, how can varicose veins lead to foot pain?

Varicose veins in the foot

varicose veins in the footThe main reason foot pain and varicose veins are rarely linked, is because varicose veins are mainly thought to develop in the calves. However, they can in fact develop practically anywhere on the body, including the foot.

If you develop varicose veins on the sole of the foot, you can experience the same type of symptoms as you would with plantar fasciitis. So, to diagnose the problem, an imaging scan would need to be carried out.

While they can affect anybody, they do tend to be more prevalent in women who are over the age of 55.

Treating varicose veins in the foot

Treating varicose veins in the foot, also referred to as atypical plantar fasciitis, is much the same as treating them in the legs. There’s a wide range of treatment options available including sclerotherapy, compression therapy and surgery.

In order to determine which treatment is right for you, it’s important to attend a consultation. A vein specialist can tell you which treatments are likely to be most effective. You may be pleasantly surprised by how simple the treatment is. Most people associate varicose vein treatments with surgery, but these days its only necessary to go under the knife as a last resort.

It’s a common misconception that varicose veins are harmless and purely a cosmetic issue. The truth is, they can be uncomfortable and painful and if left untreated, have the potential to lead to more serious health problems.

Overall, if you are suffering from foot pain, it’s really important to get them checked out. If you work on your feet all day, or spend long periods of time sat down, you’re at an increased risk of developing varicose veins.