A lot of people experience varicose veins, but either delay treatment or do not even consider having them treated. While ignoring the issue can be tempting, it is never a good idea, as varicose veins are a progressive condition which will usually become worse.
Varicose veins occur when the effects of gravity, body weight, pregnancy, lifestyle, or hereditary factors cause the vein walls to weaken and blood to pool. They can occur throughout the body, but are by far most common in the legs, particularly below the knee. It is a common problem which impacts both men and women and usually occurs from middle age.
Varicose veins are not just unsightly. They result in tired, achy, swollen legs and are a sign of underlying vein disease. Untreated, this condition will get worse and compromise overall wellbeing.
What does this mean? As varicose vein disease progresses, it gets worse – symptoms worsen, the appearance of the legs worsens, and the treatment requirements and implications become much more significant.
Types of Varicose Veins – and Their Treatment
Veins carry blood from the body back to the heart. Vein disease progresses in a predictable pattern. It is caused by chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition results when the tiny valves within the veins which prevent backflow of blood fail. They leak blood and this allows it to collect and pool in the vein. The veins become weakened and enlarged.
Vein disease has specific stages – and the treatment required depends on the stage.
Stage 1 – Spider Veins/Reticular Veins are tiny purplish-red veins which can be visible on the face, neck, legs, and ankles, and sometimes elsewhere on the body. They are very common on the outer thigh or inside of the knee – and some women experience these from a very young age. A grouping of slightly larger veins alongside spider veins is called a venulectasia. While this is caused by CVI, it is not always a varicose vein and may not always progress. Spider veins are more common in women than in men.
Reticular veins are larger bluish vessels seen just below the skin’s surface.
Treatment of these veins is via Microsclerotherapy. A liquid or foam is injected into the spider vein via a very fine needle and this “glues” the vein wall together, causing the vein to close. It achieves great results.
Stage 2 – Varicose Veins/Venous Nodules are swollen, enlarged, ropey veins. They may be seen as a bluish colour or a change in the texture of the skin, and some extend from the groin to below the knee or are visible in the back of the knee. They may or may not be preceded by spider veins, and this is the stage at which most people first become aware they have vein issue. At this stage, the person may experience burning, itching, or numbness along the veins, as well as tired, achy legs. This is the ideal time to seek medical advice and have your veins treated.
Stage 3 – Varicose Veins/Oedema involves worsening of the leg swelling. This occurs as the CVI impairs the body’s ability to reabsorb fluid. While elevating the legs may help with the symptoms such as redness and pain, it will not significantly reduce swelling or prevent further progression of the disease.
Stage 3 Varicose Veins
Stage 4 – Varicose Eczema/Trophic Ulcer Veins signifies advanced vein disease. Congestion within the varicose veins results in impaired blood circulation. Changes to the colour and texture of the skin occur, and the skin on the legs can become tough and leathery in texture, white or reddish-brown, and more brittle. This makes it more vulnerable to injury. Injuries like bumps and scratches may heal with scarring but may elicit leg ulcers to form. These are very difficult to treat and often will not heal. They cause chronic open, bleeding sores on the legs.
Stage 4: Venous Pigmentation or “lipodermatosclerosis”
Treating veins at this stage is not impossible, but it is very difficult and requires a more aggressive approach. Results are not going to be as good, recovery will be longer, and ongoing care may be required.
Premium Vein Treatment at Crows Nest Vein Clinic
Dr Nicole James is a leading Sydney doctor at Crows Nest Vein Clinic. She offers premium gold-standard treatment options for various types of varicose veins with the most medically-advanced specialist techniques that are available today. These minimally-invasive vein treatment options are proven to be both safe and effective with faster, more comfortable recovery times, fewer complications, and better long-term outcomes.
Contact Crows Nest Vein Clinic today to talk with our team about the vein treatment options available with us and the safety of our services.
We are open for business as usual and continue to closely adhere to all strict COVID-safe practices and the current advice from the NSW Department of Health.
Call us on (02) 9906 1555 or email us at [email protected].