HEALTH & BEAUTY – The truth about varicose veins

The Whiteley Clinic

Established in 2001, The Whiteley Clinic is a private Medical Facility which specialises in the treatment of varicose veins. www.thewhiteleyclinic.co.uk

Article from FOCUS Magazine – Summer 14 issue.

Over a third of us will have them but do we really know how they are caused or what best to do if we think we have them?

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), varicose veins are estimated to affect at least a third of the population. There are few medical conditions that are so widely spread as varicose veins and thread veins and yet are misunderstood by so many.

Established in 2001, The Whiteley Clinic is a private Medical Facility which specialises in the treatment of varicose veins and venous conditions using a selection of surgical and non-surgical treatments. The Clinic’s founder, Professor Mark Whiteley was one of the first UK Consultant Surgeons to introduce new and minimally invasive vein surgery techniques (referred to as ‘pin hole’ surgery) to the United Kingdom when he performed the first procedure in March 1999.

Here, Professor Mark Whiteley looks to dispel some of the more common myths that are very often associated with varicose veins and their causes:

Women are more likely to suffer with varicose veins False: In general, women are much better at seeking medical advice whereas men tend to avoid going to the doctors at all costs – often to their own detriment. This has made it appear that women suffer with varicose veins more than men. In fact, there is now evidence to suggest that the reverse is true and that slightly more men than women have varicose veins.

Standing for long periods of time will cause varicose veins False: Varicose veins are caused by failure of the leg pump. When the leg pump fails, blood will travel down the arteries away from the heart and into the leg, but the veins cannot sufficiently pump the blood back out of the leg. Failure of the leg pump is usually due to the valves in the vein failing and causing the blood to flow back into the leg (reflux). Standing for long periods of time does not cause varicose veins, but it does allow them to form more quickly in people who have already suffered damage to their valves.

Varicose veins run in families True: To be precise, leg pump failure (venous reflux) does run in families and many people are unfortunately predisposed to varicose veins. Having relatives with venous problems does make it likely that you will too but doesn’t necessarily mean that you will go on to develop them. It also does not mean to say that your children will have them too, although they will be more likely to, than most other children.

Varicose veins can be safely left untreated False: The visible varicose veins are not really the problem in themselves but are the sign that there is an underlying problem that the leg pump is not working properly. If left untreated, the condition of the leg pump will continue to deteriorate causing further damage.

Pregnancy causes varicose veins False: This myth sprang up due to the simple observation that some women don’t seem to have varicose veins before they get pregnant, but then the veins appear during or after their pregnancy. Due to increased blood flow and change of hormones that occur during pregnancy, these underlying varicose veins may well become visible. However, in around 98% of women, they would have developed sooner or later.

Thread veins are very often early indicators of underlying ‘hidden’ varicose veins in almost 90% of people. To get the best chance of curing thread veins of the legs, it is essential to have a venous Duplex Ultrasound scan of the legs first, to find out where the thread veins are coming from.

Early diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins results in simpler and more cost effective treatment plans.

If you think you may have varicose veins, you can take a vein screening test at www.veinscreening.co.uk

For more information about The Whiteley Clinic or varicose veins, visit www.thewhiteleyclinic.co.uk