Frequently asked questions
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No you do not need a referral though in many ways it is preferable
If you have private medical insurance then you will need to discuss this with your insurance company as they may ask for a referral from your GP.
Firstly your doctor will make discuss your problem and examine you. You will then have a scan using an ultrasound machine (similar to the scan pregnant ladies have). The flow of blood will be assessed looking for leaky valves. Occasionally and depending on your problem you may need further tests but this is quite rare.
The combination of your medical history, the examination findings and the results of your scans will allow your doctor to recommend what options you have for treatment. The final decision on any or even no treatment will always be yours but advice will of course be offered.
For more details on treatment options please see our treatments section.
The vast majority of patients will benefit from treatment but this will be explained carefully to you and depends on what treatment you are suitable for and what you wish to achieve from your treatment. Quoted figures in the literature and from personal experience approach 100% success rates.
Modern endovenous or keyhole treatments are painless. However, you will need to have local anaesthetic and injecting this can be a little uncomfortable for some patients. Afterwards you will be advised to take some painkillers for a few days though some people don’t need any. This aspect is often personal as some people have higher whilst others have lower pain thresholds.
You will have several injections during the procedure which can cause some mild discomfort which is when the initial catheter is going in to the vein and also when local anaesthetic is being put around the vein. You should not feel any pain when the vein is treated with heat.
If you need open surgery then you will require a full anaesthetic which could either be a general anaesthetic in which case you are asleep or an injection in your back as is done for women in labour. In either case you will feel nothing.
This depends on the treatment. For endovenous treatment carried out under local anaesthetic , you walk in and walk out in approximately 60 minutes. The whole process of checking you in and checking you out safely can take a few hours so please take this into account. You will be able to go home the same day and depending on how you feel you may be able to resume normal activities the next day.
For open surgical treatments you usually will be able to go home the same day depending on when your treatment is. You may need a few days to recover from the effects of the anaesthetic and surgery but again this varies from person to person.
Thermal techniques like laser and radiofrequency ablation generate heat which seals the varicose veins from the inside. Chemical techniques like
Over time, the vein shrinks down and eventually disappears.
You should be able to walk straight after endovenous treatment and be ready to go home within an hour of the procedure. There are no specific guidelines on driving afterwards but you must be able to safely perform an emergency stop. We advise that you check with your insurance company before driving the same day and feel it is probably better if someone drives you home.
If you require open surgery then we would ask that someone else drives you home.
The truth of the matter is nobody really knows the answer to this. For long haul flights it has often been recommended to wait 6 weeks. Ultimately the decision is yours and how important the flight is. If you do fly a long distance within six weeks it may be prudent to wear the stockings you are given after the operation as well as keeping well hydrated and as mobile as possible throughout the flight.
For endovenous treatments you can eat and drink normally but please come in loose-fitting trousers, skirt or shorts because dressings will be applied after the procedure. This may make it impossible to put tight trousers back on!
For open surgery then you will need to come in fasted but your surgeon will advise you accordingly.
Yes they can. If you have reflux in the larger superficial veins you may find that once that is treated the spider veins disappear.
If they persist or there is no reflux to begin with then they can be treated by injecting a chemical into them with a fine needle. This is called “sclerotherapy” and relies on the chemical or “sclerosant” to cause a reaction in the vein wall which seals the vein and allows the body to make it disappear over time. Please note that this treatment is usually NOT covered by private medical insurance.
This depends on the treatment and you will be advised accordingly during the discussion with your doctor.
Both endovenous and open surgery carry risks but there is little doubt that modern endovenous surgery using any of the treatments listed on this website are overall safer. However there is a risk of blood clots (DVT/PE), recurrence of the varicose veins in the future, pain, nerve damage, bleeding, infection and skin damage.
For sclerotherapy of spider veins there is a risk of bruising, skin staining, some pain and again skin damage.
This depends on what treatment you require and what your treatment goals are. An initial consultation is £200. Please contact the hospital where you wish to have treatment for an indication of prices.
A DVT is when blood in the deep veins sticks together to form a solid mass or “clot” usually in the leg. This can cause pain, swelling and a hot, red leg. The superficial veins that cause varicose veins are different to deep veins.
Any type of surgery or even trauma like a fracture can cause a DVT especially if this is in the leg. There is therefore a small risk of DVT with any treatment for varicose veins.
A PE is like a DVT in that it is a blood clot but this time it is in the blood vessels of the lung. It is usually caused by a part of a clot from a leg DVT breaking up and travelling up to the heart and then into the lung where it lodges to block off some of these lung vessels. This can be very serious and even fatal. This is why all DVTs need prompt treatment.