Varicose veins are enlarged and distorted veins in the legs that are visible through the skin.
The role of veins is to carry blood back from the leg to the heart. Some lie just beneath the skin (superficial veins) and some lie deep in the leg beneath the muscles (deep veins). Varicose veins arise from the superficial veins.
Deep veins pump the blood out of the leg during walking and contain one-way valves that ensure that the blood flows towards the heart. But weakness in the valve wall can allow valves in the superficial veins to stretch so that they do not close properly. Blood then flows back into the leg along these veins. This causes the veins and tributaries to enlarge, becoming visible on the surface as varicose veins.
Unfortunately the damaged valves cannot be fixed and the best way to alleviate the problem is to remove the affected veins. In the treatment that we offer the varicose veins are removed leaving only the normal, working vessels.
Once treatment has been completed the blood can no longer flow the wrong way. There is also no issue with removing the varicose veins as other veins – especially the deeper ones – take over the job of ensuring the correct direction of blood flow.
Usually varicose veins are obvious due to their visibility. They appear enlarged and bulging beneath the skin. Early symptoms of the condition include discomfort, aching, heaviness, fatigue, burning, throbbing and cramps.
This common condition can run in families and affects 60% of the adult population. Both men and women develop varicose veins to an equal extent but it is women who more frequently seek treatment. The problem can appear at any time of life but is more common with increasing age. Prolonged standing, excess weight, hormonal medications and pregnancy can exacerbate the condition.