Varicose Veins in Pregnancy – Everything You Need to Know

Varicose veins in pregnancyThere are a lot of things you prepare yourself for when you’re pregnant, but varicose veins aren’t usually one of them!

It’s actually quite common for pregnant women to develop varicose veins, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worrying when it happens to you. So why do they appear and how can they be treated?

What causes varicose veins in pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant, your body needs to produce a lot more blood to support your baby’s growth. Unfortunately, this additional blood can put a lot of pressure onto the blood vessels; particularly in the legs. It’s harder for the body to pump the extra blood up from the legs to the heart, hence varicose veins tend to largely occur in the legs during pregnancy.

It’s not just the legs that cause problems however. Your uterus also pressurises the blood vessels in the pelvis. Then there’s the increased progesterone levels which cause the vessels to relax. All of these changes within the body are what lead to varicose veins, usually around week 29.

How can they be treated?

We get a lot of enquiries at the Cornwall Vein Clinic from pregnant women desperate to get rid of varicose veins. However, unless you had varicose veins before you got pregnant, it’s recommended you leave them be.

Varicose veins brought on by pregnancy usually disappear a few months after you’ve given birth. So, they may look unsightly and feel uncomfortable, but the good news is they are often only temporary.

There are ways to minimise the chances of developing them, such as watching your weight, keeping your body active to ensure adequate blood flow and keeping the legs elevated whenever possible.

Overall, varicose veins in pregnancy are usually not something you need to be concerned about. They will usually disappear on their own. However, if you had varicose veins before getting pregnant, it is recommended you seek treatment after baby is born.

Leaving varicose veins untreated – what harm could it do?

leaving veins untreatedWhilst varicose veins are considered unsightly, embarrassing and annoying, very few people realise they can be dangerous too. When left untreated, they have the potential to lead to several fairly serious conditions.

Symptoms commonly reported include pain, fatigue, discomfort and itchiness. If treatment isn’t sought, these symptoms will worsen over time.

So even if you are lucky enough to avoid developing a serious medical issue, you’ll still be left in a lot of pain and discomfort if you don’t get your varicose veins treated.

Potential dangers you need to be aware of

The best case scenario for varicose veins being left untreated is usually a worsening of symptoms. However, there’s the chance they could also lead to the following more serious conditions:

Lipodermosclerosis – Over time, inflammation can cause the tissues of the leg to become heavy and firm. Tenderness is also a common symptom and eventually the leg will be a lot harder to move as well as to relax.

Hyperpigmentation – If you think your varicose veins look unsightly now, wait until you see how they appear if hyperpigmentation sets in. Over time, varicose veins tend to lead to excess blood which leaks out into the leg’s tissue. This causes the skin to darken and become discoloured, as the leg becomes painful and swollen.

Deep vein thrombosis – One of the more serious conditions varicose veins can occasionally lead to, deep vein thrombosis causes a blood clot which can be fatal. You’ll feel as though the nerves in your legs are being pinched and it’s if the blood clot travels up the body that it becomes a life-threatening problem.

Treatments available

The treatment of varicose veins has come a long way and it isn’t half as scary as it used to be. There are a wide range of treatments available including state of the art keyhole surgeries. There are even non-surgical approaches which may be better suited to some patients.

If you’re seeking treatment for varicose veins in Cornwall, the Cornwall Vein Clinic can help. Book a consultation today to see which type of treatment best suits your circustmances.

Don’t let varicose veins ruin your summer

legsSummer is here and as many people look forward to ditching their jeans for cool shorts and dresses, those with varicose veins are desperate to keep the condition hidden.

If you’re desperate to bare your legs but you’re worried about unsightly veins, there are plenty of treatment options available; with most offering a non-invasive approach.

Minimising the appearance of varicose veins via diet

If you want a quick fix to mild varicose vein issues, an anti-inflammatory diet can help. Eating natural diuretics such as fresh herbs and salad greens can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to the veins.

Pooling of the blood, which is a common symptom of the condition, can also be improved with foods such as bananas and other magnesium rich foods.

It is worth pointing out, even though an anti-inflammatory diet can help, it shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution. Varicose veins do need to be treated correctly, otherwise they will worsen over time.

Using essential oils to cover up

As well as an anti-inflammatory diet, various essential oils can also help improve the appearance of varicose veins. Cypress, Lemon, Geranium and Peppermint, are just some of the essential oils known to boost circulation. They can be massaged directly onto the legs, or used in the bath.

Again, this is a very temporary solution and proper treatment should be sought as soon as possible.

Laser surgery

By far one of the best solutions is to opt for endothermal ablation, which is the treatment recommended by N.I.C.E. The procedure uses laser or radiofrequency energy to seal the veins and it provides excellent results.

It is known to be painful for around 5 days afterwards, but painkillers usually work to manage it. The main benefit of this procedure is it is non-invasive and yet it provides the same type of results as some types of surgery.

In summary, it is really important to get your varicose veins properly treated as soon as possible. While they are more of a cosmetic concern, they will get a lot worse over time and potentially develop into serious medical conditions.

3 Unusual Places Varicose Veins Can Develop

VeinsVaricose veins are most commonly found in the lower legs, but did you know they can spring up in more unusual areas?

Developing varicose veins anywhere on the body can be distressing. The green and blue veins don’t just look unsightly – they can also be painful or uncomfortable too. Below you’ll discover 3 unusual places varicose veins can develop.

1. The vagina/vulva

Perhaps the most surprising area varicose veins can appear is around the vagina and vulva area. They most commonly develop during pregnancy and are caused by ovarian or pelvic vein reflux. They can cause a lot of discomfort, as well as lead to other issues such as IBS and stress incontinence.

It is often said there isn’t a suitable treatment available to treat vaginal varicose veins, but coil embolization has been proven to work on some patients.

2. Hands and arms

While it is rare, varicose veins can develop in the hands and arms, especially in older individuals and those who work out a lot. They pose more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one and are pretty harmless compared to varicose veins found on other parts of the body.

Fillers tend to be the most common treatment, though ultrasound guided phlebectomy can also prove successful.

3. Around the eyes

Varicose veins around the eyes can be particularly distressing as they are much more noticeable than on other parts of the body. They can cause a lot of embarrassment and even give the face a disfigured appearance. Treatment will depend upon individual circumstances.

A laser may be used to try and close the veins, but some patients may require plastic surgical procedures to remove them.

These are just 3 surprising places varicose veins can crop up. If you’re concerned about varicose veins on any part of your body, contact us today to book a consultation. It’s also important to visit your GP to have the problem properly diagnosed.

3 Common Varicose Vein Myths Busted

varicose veinsThere are a lot of myths out there surrounding varicose veins and some can be problematic if they are to be believed. Therefore, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the truth behind these misconceptions. Here you’ll discover 3 common varicose vein myths and the truth behind them.

1. Varicose veins aren’t harmful

While thankfully a lot of the time varicose veins aren’t harmful to your health, in some cases they can be. They can cause aching, throbbing and itching sensations and in some cases even serious swelling. Over time they may also lead to skin changes and leg ulcers . They can be really painful (thrombophlebitis) which means removal is essential in many cases.

2. Varicose veins are the same as spider veins

While the two may look similar, spider veins are basically just veins that have dilated. They are found in the surface of the skin and are largely a cosmetic issue. Varicose veins on the other hand are located in the fat between the skin and the muscle. It’s important to note that the pressure caused by the varicose veins can lead to the development of spider veins too.

3. Varicose veins can always be easily seen

As varicose veins are associated with a bulging, unsightly appearance, it’s logical to think they’re always visible. However, they’re not always bulging. They can be located deeper under the skin so they aren’t necessarily visible to the naked eye. You’ll know if you’re suffering from deeper varicose veins because they present the same symptoms of swelling, achy tired legs and itchiness.

There are so many myths regarding varicose veins so it’s essential to see a doctor if you suspect you have them. The good news is there are many treatment options available, some which don’t require surgery. Treatments have come a long way over the years so don’t be put off seeking help.

You can contact us today to book a consultation and find out more about the treatment options available.

What Are the Risks of Endothermal Ablation Surgery?

calfEndothermal ablation surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the treatment of varicose veins. However, like any surgery it can present some risks. Before deciding whether or not to go ahead with the procedure, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into.

Common general side effects

The most common side effects of endothermal ablation surgery include:

  • Pain/discomfort
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Numbness or tightness

Pain and discomfort is something you’d expect to feel from any surgery. However, severe pain is rare. You’ll typically be given pain medication to control the discomfort following the procedure, but if you’re experiencing severe pain you will need to contact the surgeon.

Swelling and bruising are also to be expected, though this should be minimal due to the minimally invasive approach of the surgery. If you experience numbness or tightness you should notice this disappears after a few weeks. It’s also common for pins and needles to develop as you regain sensation to the leg.

Specific risks to be aware of

Any surgery carried out on the legs produces a risk of deep vein thrombosis. However, the risk of this developing after endothermal ablation surgery is just 0.3% compared to a staggering 5% with the older vein stripping procedure.

Wearing compression stockings can also reduce the chances of developing deep vein thrombosis after the surgery.
Endothermal ablation fails to close the vein in about 3% of people, and in these cases the treatment may need to be repeated.

A very small percentage of patients have also reported skin burns. This is down to the strength of the laser, but it’s an extremely rare side effect that you’re unlikely to experience. Sometimes you can get some skin discolouration and thickening along the line of the treated vein if it is close to the skin, and this can take a few months to fade.

Overall you’ll be informed about the risks and side effects of endothermal ablation during your initial consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic. The consultation also offers you the opportunity to ask any questions and for us to determine whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure.

Call us today to book your consultation and find out whether endothermal ablation is the right treatment choice for you.

Varicose Veins Treatment Market Set to Grow by 6.9% by 2021

sprout-1136131_960_720Varicose veins not only look unpleasant, but they can also be extremely painful. However, the good news is that thanks to innovative techniques and advances in technology, they have never been easier to treat. Minimally invasive procedures have increased the popularity of varicose vein surgery, with new research showing an expected further growth of 6.9% by 2021.

Growth driven by innovative procedures

These days there are plenty of treatments available to remove varicose veins. By far the most popular and minimally invasive is endothermal ablation. Performed via ultrasound guidance, laser or radiofrequency is used to destroy the trunk.

After this type of treatment, few patients go on to require further procedures. Endothermal ablation can be performed on most varicose veins.

Another popular treatment is Venaseal. This FDA approved procedure involves sealing the veins with an adhesive. It’s a permanent treatment that provides long-lasting results. Taking very little time to perform and offering fantastic results, it’s no wonder varicose vein surgery has become so popular today.

Market currently worth $207.9 million

The research conducted focused on varicose vein treatments in North America and Europe. It showed that as of 2016, the market is worth $207.9 million. By 2021 this is expected to rise to $289.7 million. That’s a substantial growth and highlights just how popular varicose vein treatments are today.

Varicose veins are a growing problem and there are many causes of the condition. They can be caused by weakened valves and your risk of developing them is increased by a large number of factors including genetics, obesity, pregnancy and age. While women are more likely to develop them, many men also suffer with the condition.

Overall the recent research does show how far varicose vein treatments have come over the years. As the trend reaches out to more minimally invasive procedures, it’s likely that is where development of the industry will be focused upon in coming years.

Call the Cornwall Vein Clinic today to arrange a consultation and find out more about these innovative minimally invasive procedures.

Older patients may miss out on varicose vein treatments on NHS

These are turbulent times for the NHS and to add to junior doctor strikes and contract concerns, is a health rationing row between NHS chiefs and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).

Six Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the Birmingham region are looking at plans to cut funding for a whole range of operations, from cataract surgery to varicose vein treatments.

The CCGs, which provide treatment for over two million patients in the Birmingham area, published a document in April entitled the ‘Policy for Procedures of Lower Clinical Value’. A host of procedures were listed that would now require GPs to give evidence of ‘exceptional clinical need’ before their use would be sanctioned. As well as varicose veins, other treatments to be hit include cosmetic surgery, treatment for back pain and groin hernia repairs.

The Royal College of Surgeons were asked to give their feedback on the report and hit back, saying that “some policies are presented as if they are supported by clinically-evidenced guidance but in fact contravene this guidance” and that this could prevent patients receiving the treatment they need.

The plan is to impose thresholds on particular procedures; for example, a weight restriction on those undergoing hip or knee surgery or only treating more advanced cases of varicose veins. As the RCS points out in their letter, though, lack of early intervention in varicose veins can result in an increased deterioration that will later require a surgical intervention.

However, these are not the first CCGs that have rationed varicose vein procedures and patients are increasingly have to opt for private treatment. At Cornwall Vein Clinic, we offer the full range of varicose vein treatments that NHS patients were previously able to access. Depending on the extent of the problem, there are a number of minimally invasive, but highly effective treatments. These include endothermal ablation, sclerotherapy and exciting new technological innovations such as ClariVein™ and cyanoacrylate glue occlusion. Surgery should be a last resort.

If you have further questions or to find out more about your treatment options, please call 01872 226 100 to arrange a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic.

Men drive up demand for varicose vein treatments

Varicose veins may seem the bane of middle-aged women, but experts now believe that they are just as likely to affect men as women – the difference is that, in the past, women were more likely to seek treatment. However, that’s all set to change as men are becoming increasingly motivated to seek a solution to varicose veins.

Whether it’s because we live in a more visual world or that more of us than ever are playing sport and exercising regularly and men do not want to reveal the unsightly blue bulges marring their legs; SportEngland’s latest data noted that over 15 million adults now play sport at least once a week, an increase of almost 2 million on 2005/6. There’s even now been a term coined to describe varicose veins in men – ‘grandpa legs’.

Are varicose veins merely an aesthetic concern?

Most people do not suffer problems associated with these swollen, visible veins lying just under the skin, but symptoms include:

  • A feeling of aching or heaviness in the legs
  • The skin may itch or there is a burning sensation
  • You may experience ‘restless legs’ and even cramping in the legs particularly at night
  • The legs and ankles may swell up, particularly common at the end of the day

Although these symptoms might not necessarily affect your ability to perform normal activities or impact on your quality of life, varicose veins can be very unsightly, with lumps, swelling or noticeably blue or purple twisting veins pushing against the skin. The skin can also change colour and texture and, in some cases, result in ulcers.

What treatments are available for varicose veins?

When treatments were mainly restricted to surgery or wearing compression garments, it’s not surprising that many men choose to just put up with the problem. However, technological advances in recent years has meant that there are now minimally invasive, highly effective procedures available.

In addition to NICE-recommended endothermal ablation procedures, Cornwall Vein Clinic also offers two other innovative and exciting keyhole treatments for varicose veins that are performed as keyhole procedures; ClariVein™ and cyanoacrylate glue occlusion. They require no anaesthetic, are quick to perform and mean significantly less downtime, so are increasingly popular with male patients wanting a solution to varicose veins. For more information on the treatments we offer, call 01872 226 100.

Endothermal ablation: the varicose vein treatment you should be offered

The NHS is facing its worse financial crisis in a generation according to regulators. Estimates published towards the end of 2015 suggest that the NHS is heading towards an annual deficit of at least £2 billion . This is attributed to increased care requirements for an ageing population, restricted budgets and unexpected staffing costs. Whilst these are undeniable factors driving the current healthcare landscape there is still plenty to do to modernise the service at grass roots levels to improve the patient experience and eliminate unnecessary costs.

For some time, the casual prescription by GPs of antibiotics for viruses to mollify parents and screaming children has been a known issue. This placebo actually costs the NHS around £10m a year, despite it having no effect whatsoever on viruses. Worse that that it contributes to antibiotic resistance, threatening to make common infections untreatable.

A less well-covered topic in the media is the expenditure on varicose vein treatment. This is a common health complaint which affects up to 30 per cent of UK adults. For many people there are no symptoms but the condition can result in heaviness, aching and cramps. Over time this can develop into more serious problems such as leg ulcers which have a significant effect on the patient’s quality of life.

Traditionally, this condition has been treated with surgery and carried out under general anaesthetic. Whilst most patients can return home on the same day the procedure is invasive and can result in pain, bruising and bleeding. Recovery can take up to three weeks before returning to work and there is a small risk of nerve damage and or deep vein thrombosis.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), best known for ruling which new drugs doctors can prescribe on the NHS recommends that endothermal ablation should be offered as an initial treatment for varicose veins. Carried out under a local anaesthetic the procedure relies on high frequency radio waves or lasers to seal the affected blood vessels.

According to NICE, prescribing endothermal ablation as the preferred treatment would deliver a more successful and less invasive treatment for patients as well as making an annual saving of £4.5 million across the UK.

For more information on which treatment for varicose veins is most appropriate for your needs, please call 01872 226 100 to book a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic.