Varicose veins are enlarged veins that appear on the legs and feet. They are swollen, twisting veins that often appear green, blue or dark purple. They happen when faulty valves in the vein allow blood to flow in the wrong direction or to pool. Pregnant women are more susceptible to varicose veins. People who are overweight have an increased risk of varicose veins.
Symptoms of varicose veins include aching legs, spider veins and swollen ankles. Oftentimes, they do not require treatment but if you have painful, swelling aches in the legs, it might require treatment. Treatment for varicose veins include:
1. Ligation and stripping
Two incisions are made, one near the patient’s groin at the top of the target vein and the other is made further down the leg, either at the knee or ankle. The top of the vein is tied up and sealed. A thin, flexible wire is threaded through the bottom of the vein and then pulled out, taking the vein with it. This does not require a hospital stay but most patients are given 1-3 weeks to recover.
Surgery might be required if the varicose veins are large and it is usually done under general anaesthetics. Patients might be discharged on the same day if the surgery was done on one leg. Two legs might require a night stay at the hospital.
3. Radiofrequency ablation
In this case, a small incision is made either above or below the knee and with the help of an ultrasound scan, a narrow tube (catheter) is threaded into the vein. Then a probe is inserted into the catheter and it emits radiofrequency energy. This heats up the vein, causing the walls to collapse and eventually sealing it shut.
A chemical is injected into small and medium-sized varicose veins, which scars and closes the veins. They fade after weeks.
5. Endovenous laser treatment
A catheter is inserted into the patient’s veins. A small laser is threaded through the catheter and positioned at the top of the target vein. It delivers short energy bursts through the vein, sealing it shut.