Leg vein disorders are particularly common amongst both women and men. Leg veins
can be troubling either cosmetically, by being unsightly and ugly, or because of
symptoms such as pain, swelling, heaviness or tiredness. There are different treatments
available for different types of conditions involving leg veins. The choice of treatment
depends on the position of the veins, the size of them and whether there is any
problem involving the underlying deep veins. Methods to treat veins include surgery,
laser, radiofrequency and injection (sclerotherapy). Treatment requires evaluation
by a qualified medical practitioner first. This process often requires ultrasound
testing to visualize, test and measure underlying veins. Treating leg veins requires
a measured approach weighing up the balance between the effectiveness of the procedure
and how invasive it is. In many cases, maintenance treatment is necessary.
If leg veins become enlarged and dilated in such a way that they are visible on the surface of the skin, then this is what is called surface veins. These surface veins when they are small and thin are called spider veins. When veins on the surface of the skin are much larger and thicker they are called varicose veins. The term varicose means enlarged, dilated and tortuous and there are various grades of severity of varicose veins varying from prominent blue veins that are not bulging (Grade 1 varicose veins) to large grape-like bulges of veins (Grade 4)
What causes leg veins?
There are various factors which play an important part in the development of leg
veins. 50% of people will develop surface or varicose veins at some point in their
lives. Varicose veins and spider veins can also be a hereditary condition. If parents
have them, there is a considerably higher likelihood that you will have them as
well at some point.
Though the development of varicose veins or spider veins can occur at any age, they usually start between the age of 18 and 35, progressively becoming more common with a peak incidence between 50 and 60 years old. They occur in both men and women although women are affected more frequently.
During pregnancy, varicose veins often form but they can also disappear within a few months after delivery of the baby. During pregnancy, an enlarged uterus tends to compress veins in the pelvic area which in turn cause the leg veins to get larger.
Hormone changes during pregnancy also affect leg veins. Hormone changes can also cause distension and valve damage.
Varicose veins are also caused by prolonged periods of sitting down or standing in the same place.
Can veins be prevented?
There is no method known to prevent the appearance of veins. However, there are ways to help reduce the chance of getting them. Support stockings can slow down the rate of progression in certain people and they are also worth considering when sitting or standing in the same position for a long time. They can also be used during pregnancy.
The Geelong Cosmetic and Laser Medical Centre specialises in minimally invasive
procedures to treat leg veins. General anaesthetics are not required and neither
is hospitalisation. Cutting of the skin is also not required. Patients can normally
resume everyday activity immediately after treatment. Leg vein treatments are also
performed by experienced and qualified medical practitioners who are familiar with
the latest treatments for leg veins.
The most appropriate method of treating leg veins requires an evaluation by a suitably qualified medical practitioner. Ultrasound is used to assess the precise nature of the problem, thus identifying the best treatment plan for the individual. There are several main non-surgical procedures for treating leg veins:
Sclerotherapy is an effective treatment involving the use of very fine needles to seal off the unwanted veins. The body will then break these veins down naturally in just the same way that the body removes bruises. Due to the very fine gauge of the needles, the process is not painful. There are two methods of sclerotherapy, the first called surface sclerotherapy which is for treating visible veins on the surface of the skin. The second method is called ultrasound guided sclerotherapy (UGS) which uses ultrasound to identify veins below the surface of the skin. This method is used for treating large varicose veins in a minimally invasive manner.
For more information see Sclerotherapy
For more information see Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy
Thermal energy is another treatment which instead of an injection involves the use of a heat source to seal the vein shut. This can be achieved by using either laser light energy or heat from radiofrequency energy.
Laser treatment relies on the use of a concentrated beam of light of a particular wavelength which targets and heats up the vein to seal it off.
Laser treatment for leg veins is available in two different forms. The simpler method is where a surface laser is used and a tiny beam of light is applied to the surface of the skin. There are a range of possible leg vein lasers that can be used to treat different types of leg vein problems. These lasers can be used for dealing with the smallest of leg veins.
For more information see Surface Vein Laser
Laser treatment for more prominent leg veins is generally treated using endovenous laser treatment which is a procedure involving a laser Fibre inserted inside a leg vein and then the application of a laser beam to seal off the problematic vein. There is minimal downtime as well. However, for this method, there is no Medicare rebate currently available.
For more information see Endovenous Laser Therapy
Radiofrequency is also a treatment used to treat leg veins. This treatment uses ultrasound to guide a catheter into the varicose vein. It delivers radiofrequency energy to shrink and seal off the problematic vein. This normally only requires a single treatment session and patients can get back to their everyday activities immediately after treatment. This treatment aims to give longterm results at least comparable to surgery without surgery.