Affecting up to 30% of adults, varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet. They may be blue or dark purple, and are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. Symptoms may include aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs, swollen feet and ankles.
Woman are usually more at risk than men, with pregnancy often causing or exacerbating the issue. Many women find varicose veins in their first pregnancy improve once they have had the baby, but by the second and third pregnancies the leg veins can become less elastic and may not go back to their pre pregnancy state.
Varicose vein treatment has come a long way in the past 15 years with new understanding of the underlying causes, development of new treatment techniques using cutting edge technology and the successful introduction of these into regular medical practice.
Treatment used to be surgical under general anaesthetic with cutting at the groins to tear out (“strip”) affected veins. Found to be painful, with a 6 weeks recovery period and a high rate of recurrence (up to 40% at 5years). Women were advised to “wait until their child-bearing years were over”.
Laser for Varicose Veins
Endovenous Laser Ablation (“EVLA”) appeared in the early 2000’s by combining developments in ultrasound imaging and medical laser therapy. EVLA is a Daycase procedure under local anaesthetic. A thin laser fibre (600microns wide) is injected just below the knee and the heat of the laser fibre tip then shrinks the varicose vein causing it close irreversibly. The patient walks out after 1 hours recovery and returns to full mobility in 24 hours. The natural healing process of the body removes the treated vein over the next few weeks but the benefit is felt within 24 hours with the relief of pressure from the affected leg.
Safety and Accessibility
Thanks in part to robust governance structures such as the National Institute of Clinical Excellence there have been many game-changing advances in modern healthcare and EVLA for varicose veins is certainly one these. With a 98% success rate (2% relates to risk of recurrence due to genetic related factors), EVLA provides the modern, clinically proven, low risk /high benefit treatment that is also affordable, even when not available on the NHS.
The Royal Free Hadley Wood Hospital offer some of the most competitive package prices for EVLA treatment.
Hadley Wood Hospital, part of the Royal Free Private Patients Unit, is a new private facility conveniently located off Barnet High Street, close to a wealth of shops, restaurants and other local amenities. At Hadley Wood, each patient is cared for individually and treated with dignity, compassion, kindness and respect.