Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisty veins which appear under the skin. They are a relatively common problem, affecting up to 20% of the population (especially in the lower limbs). Small valves located within veins create uni-directional blood flow towards the heart. When these valves lose some or all of their function, pressure in the vein increases, causing the veins to bulge outwards, and varicose veins to develop.

The cause of varicose veins remains unknown, with no links to diet, clothing, constipation, crossing legs, floor surfaces, sunbathing, waxing the legs, or lack exercise. 

Varicose veins impede vascular function (especially when standing), resulting in complications such as leg cramps, rashes (i.e., eczema), and ulcers (which may bleed). Occasionally, small veins may burst and cause permanent brown stains on the skin.

varicose veins on leg


You will be examined in clinic by Mr Haddawi, and he will arrange an ultrasound. Some people may need surgery to remove their varicose veins, particularly if they’re experiencing significant symptoms. 

The procedure is done under general anaesthesia. A small cut is made either in the groin or back of the knee, and the main vein is removed through this. Small incisions are done to remove other smaller veins.

After Surgery

The legs are usually tightly bandaged after surgery to reduce bruising. It is recommended that you begin walking as soon as possible (for at least 30 minutes per day), as this eases any post-procedure discomfort. Paracetamol is usually enough to control any pain. A one-night admission to hospital is often required after this procedure to manage any discomfort. The bandages are usually removed the day after the procedure, where they are replaced with a compression stocking.

Most patients find they need to take one to two weeks off work / other heavy activities. Mr Haddawi will see you in clinic for a follow-up roughly 3-4 weeks after your procedure to make sure you are healing well.

Possible Complications

As with any surgical procedure, there is a small chance of experiencing complications after varicose vein treatment. Mr Haddawi works with you closely to ensure any risks are mitigated as much as possible.

  • The body can regenerate new veins. This means, in 10-15% of patients varicose veins recur within a five-year window. These may require re-treatment.
  • Ankle and/or feet swelling is common and may last a few weeks. It can be reduced by wearing compression stockings.
  • Blood clots may occur in the deep veins, possibly requiring further treatment.
  • Scars at the incision sites usually fade, but may sometimes be permanent. It is important that the legs do not get sunburnt in the months following your procedure.
  • Some of the treatment area may be affected by brown discolouration. This usually fades.
  • You may have sore lumps either due to bruising or small blood clots. These usually shrink and lose their soreness over a few weeks.
  • Rarely, you may experience nerve damage and pain as surface nerves run close to the veins. This often recovers slowly, taking up to two years.
  • Wounds may experience infections, especially in patients who have experienced skin ulcers. This may need antibiotics to treat.
  • Removing the long (saphenous) vein from the groin is not recommended in people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or artery disease in the legs/arms because it prevents the vein’s function as an artery bypass.

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