Veins close to the skin that become swollen, twisted, or stretched are known as varicose veins (spider veins). Any vein can become varicose, but the veins most commonly affected are those in your legs as there is more pressure in the veins of your lower body than on upper body veins.
There are several types of treatment available for varicose veins. The treatments that are used often for varicose veins include compression stockings, surgery and sclerotherapy.
Compression stockings are a special type of stocking which steadily squeeze your legs to improve your circulation. The stocking is designed in a way so that it is tight at the ankle and relatively loose up the leg. This facilitates the blood to flow upwards towards the heart. These stockings are effective in some people for relieve the pain, discomfort and swelling of the legs as a result of varicose veins. Compression stockings of different sizes and pressures are available; your doctor can advise the right size that is needed for you. However, most people are usually prescribed class 1 (light compression) or class 2 (medium compression) stocking.
The stockings have to be worn as soon as you get up in the morning and should be taken off only when you go to bed. As the elasticity of the stocking decreases overtime, they have to be replaced every three to six months.
People with large varicose veins may be advised surgery. The surgery is usually performed under general anaesthesia (that is you will be unconscious during the procedure). Most people are discharged the same day from hospital, however, some people may have to stay overnight after the surgery especially if you are operated on both legs.
Ligation and stripping – This is the most common surgery performed for treatment of varicose veins. In this procedure, the veins in the affected leg are tied and then removed. Removal of the vein does not affect blood flow in your legs as there are veins that are situated deep within your legs. These veins after the surgery help to take over the role of the damaged veins. If you develop deep venous incompetence after surgery for varicose veins you will be advised to wear compression stockings for the rest of your life.
Sclerotherapy may be done for those who have small to medium-sized varicose veins. In this treatment, a chemical is injected into your veins. For larger veins, foam sclerotherapy is needed. The injection causes formation of chemical scars in the veins which seals them closed. Sclerotherapy (standard and foam sclerotherapy) are performed under local anaesthesia.
Some other treatments for varicose veins include radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser treatment and transilluminated powered phlebectomy
Your doctor can advise you regarding these new treatments. The type of treatment that is given depends on several factors such as your general health and the size, position and severity of your veins.
Read more articles on Varicose Veins.