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Consultants and specialists in the care of people with Varicose Veins

Veins and treatments for Varicose Veins

What are Veins?

Veins are the blood vessels that return blood to the heart after the oxygen and nutrients have been removed.
There are two main systems of veins in our legs. The deep veins that drain most of the blood and superficial veins which are close to the skin. There are two main veins in the superficial system: The Great saphenous vein which runs from our ankles to our groins on the inner side of our legs and the small saphenous system which runs from the ankle to the back of the knee on the outside of our legs.
If one thinks of the deep veins as the main motorways for blood to flow in, then the long and short saphenous veins are the A roads while the smaller superficial veins are the B roads and country lanes.
When we stand up, you can imagine that all the blood in veins would run down to our feet because of gravity. This does not happen because the veins in our legs have special non-return valves that allow blood to go towards the heart but not back to our feet. The veins are therefore one-way roads.

What are Varicose veins?
Varicose veins occur when the superficial veins near the skin become diseased so that they get bigger (dilate) and the valves break (incompetent). This means the veins become two-way roads so that they fill up instead when someone stands (reflux). If someone has varicose veins, when they stand up the veins become more visible or lumpy like bunches of grapes. The veins no longer work properly.

Are varicose veins common?
Yes, Varicose veins often run in families and nearly 4 in every 10 people in the country have varicose veins of some kind.

What problems do varicose veins cause?
For most people the only problem is that the veins do not look nice so some people do not wear shorts or skirts.
For some their legs ache after standing for long times. This can happen to people without varicose veins. In those with varicose veins, the refluxing blood fills veins in the calves. This blood stretches the muscles in the legs and makes them ache.
Some people find that their ankles swell at the end of the day. When they wake after lying in bed the swelling has gone. Swelling can be uncomfortable and is caused by fluid leaking out of the veins.
When varicose veins are more severe, the skin around the ankle can turn brown and can flake and itch. This condition is know as venous eczema or lipodermatosclerosis. If this occurs then there is a risk that an ulcer (sore) can develop around the ankle.

What should I do if I have varicose veins?
If you are concerned about your legs then you should first discuss the problem with your GP( family practitioner). They may refer you to a hospital doctor for a further opinion. Although any General Surgeon should be able to give sound advice, many would recommend that you should see a specialist vascular surgeon.

Why do varicose veins come back (recurrent varicose veins)?
There are several reasons for recurrent varicose veins:
1. Inadequate surgery.
2. Neovascularisation.
3. Normal veins become varicose.

If you have any queries please get in touch by calling FREE 0800 170 7470 or click to email us.

Dawn, the Veincare Practice Manager or one of her team will contact you when you make an enquiry or appointment.

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