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Walk-in Walk-out treatment for Varicose Veins!

Varicose veins are an extremely common condition, affecting around one in six of the adult population in Britain. Normally, leg veins have valves which encourage blood to flow from superficial veins that lie just beneath the skin surface to deeper veins and back towards the heart. In patients with varicose veins, these valves become leaky, resulting in bulging, prominent veins.

Some people seek treatment for their varicose veins as they find them unsightly, but they can also cause significant symptoms, which include pain, leg swelling and if left untreated, can deteriorate and cause eczema, skin discoloration and, ultimately leg ulcers.

Most people have heard of varicose vein surgery; under general anaesthetic, the leaky vein is disconnected from the deep vein and “stripped” out and prominent veins are removed through tiny cuts in the leg. Bruising and discomfort are common side-effects of surgery but these usually only last a week or two and the long-term results of varicose vein surgery is good.

An alternative to surgery is injection therapy (sclerotherapy). Whilst awake, a needle is inserted into the leaky vein and a chemical material (usually foam) injected which destroys the vein. Whilst this procedure avoids the need for a general anaesthetic and scars in the leg, it is probably not as effective as conventional surgery, with higher recurrence rates.

Finally, there is another way of treating varicose veins which combines the durability of surgery with the minimally invasive benefits of injection therapy – Endo-Venous Thermal Ablation. A fine catheter is inserted into the leaky vein and seals it shut using heat (generated by a laser or radiofrequency energy). In Cheltenham we use the Venefit procedure, which utilises radiofrequency energy to provide an even and uniform heat to seal the vein shut with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. It can be done under local anaesthetic with the patient awake and takes around one hour. Compared with surgery, endo-venous ablation results in less pain and a quicker recovery time and is a very effective treatment for varicose veins.

Richard Bulbulia is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon working at Cheltenham General Hospital and The Cheltenham Nuffield Hospital. He is part of The Imperial Medical Group – Eight local Consultant Surgeons who, working together, provide comprehensive care for a wide range of general surgical conditions. Email: richard.bulbulia@ctsu.ox.ac.uk